Do you have diabetes? Are you sure?

There are many faces of diabetes — it can affect anyone regardless of age, ethnicity or social status. In type 2 diabetes, often symptoms do not appear until it’s too late.

If left untreated, diabetes can lead to deadly complications – including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and amputation.

Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. A quarter of those with the disease — 7 million — are unaware that they have it. Recent estimates project that as many as one in three American adults will have diabetes in 2050 unless we take steps to Stop Diabetes. With such staggering numbers — how many people in Oregon SW Washington could be at risk or undiagnosed?

Tuesday, March 27, is the 24th Annual American Diabetes Association Diabetes Alert Day. American Diabetes Association Alert Day, which is held every fourth Tuesday in March, is a one-day, “wake-up call” asking the American public to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

This year, we’ll be encouraging people to take a new and improved Diabetes Risk Test by driving the public to Facebook where they can also ask questions, engage with our community and share the test with friends and loved ones. The test has been updated with a new algorithm adjusted to align with a more contemporary and accurate scoring system that enables the general public to better assess their risk for type 2 diabetes.

You can be part of the movement to Stop Diabetes and get your free Diabetes Risk Test (English or Spanish) by visiting us on Facebook, or by calling 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383). Although Alert Day is a one-day event, the Diabetes Risk Test is available year-round.

Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by losing just 7% of body weight (such as 15 pounds if you weigh 200) through regular physical activity (30 minutes a day, five days a week) and healthy eating. By understanding your risk, you can take the necessary steps to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. For people who have already been diagnosed with diabetes – whether they have type 1 or type 2 diabetes – these same lifestyle changes can make a significant difference in their diabetes management.

I strongly urge your readers to take the Diabetes Risk Test and share the test with everyone you care about — friends, family members and colleagues. “Take It. Share It.”

Andrew Ahmann, M.D., is a Community Leadership Board Member of the American Diabetes Association and Director of the Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center at OHSU.