AMARILLO - According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, half a million Texans are living with diabetes and don't even know it.
The department says one out of every ten Texans is diagnosed with some type of diabetes.
Northwest Texas Healthcares System Endocrinologist Dr. Cesar Arias says it's only going to get worse.
"It's an epidemic," Arias said.
Arias says he's seen an increase in diabetic patients for the past 11 years and he doesn't see it getting better anytime soon.
"It is anticipated by CDC data, the Centers for Disease Control, that by the year 2050, one of every three Americans will have diabetes," Arias said.
He says the lack of education on prevention and risk factors plus the unhealthy lifestyle of our society contribute to the increase.
The number of Americans diagnosed with pre-diabetes has jumped from 47 million in 2010 to 76 million in 2012.
It doesn't help that less and less medical students are specializing in endocrinology at a time when they're needed most.
"If that keeps going that way, we won't have endocrinologists in this country to take care of the population with diabetes," Arias said. "That's why it's so important that primacare physicians, pa's, nurse practitioners to learn how to treat this disease."
The risk factors for diabetes include are obesity, a family history of the disease, and a Hispanic or African American background.
"Don't wait until you get symptoms if you know that the risk is there," Arias said.
80 percent of diabetics die of heart attack or stroke. Arias says that fact alone should make everyone, especially those with risk factors, lead a healthier life.