Ten Things You Should Know About Diabetes

November is American Diabetes Month. Did you know that roughly 30.3 million Americans have diabetes? That’s over nine percent of the population. (So, if you have 11 friends or family members, the chances of one of them having diabetes is likely.)

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Diabetes refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (or glucose). Your body breaks down the sugars and starches you eat into a simple sugar called glucose, which it uses for energy. Glucose is vital to your health because it's an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It's also your brain's main source of fuel. Though the causes and the type of diabetes may differ, a person with diabetes has too much glucose in his blood. Too much glucose can lead to serious health problems. Diabetes should always be diagnosed by a doctor.

Diabetes Types

  • Type 1 Diabetes, which was previously known as juvenile diabetes, is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. Only 5 percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. Insulin therapy and other treatments help those with type 1 diabetes manage their disease.

  • Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes experience insulin resistance, which means that their bodies do not use insulin properly. At first the pancreas takes over to make extra insulin, but over time it isn't able to keep up and can't make enough insulin to keep blood glucose at normal levels. Insulin therapy and other treatments like a healthy diet and weight management can help those with type 2 diabetes maintain their disease.

Diabetes Facts

  1. Diabetes remains the seventh leading cause of death in America as of 2015.

  2. Every 21 seconds someone in America is diagnosed with diabetes.

  3. Senior Americans (those 65 and older) account for 25 percent of those affected.

  4. A person can also be diagnosed as prediabetic. Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but are not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with prediabetes are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes and for heart disease and stroke. Around 84 million Americans are prediabetic and 90 percent of them are unaware of their condition.

  5. Native Americans, African-Americans, and Hispanics have higher rates of diabetes than other ethnic groups.

  6. According to a 2012 American Diabetes Association study, the total cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States annually was $245 billion. That’s $176 billion for direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity. (The ADA puts the total cost of diabetes and prediabetes for 2017 at $322 billion.) After adjusting for population age and sex differences, average medical expenditures among people with diagnosed diabetes were 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes.

  7. The average price of insulin tripled between 2002 and 2013.

  8. People with diabetes are at a higher risk for stroke, blindness, kidney disease, heart disease, and the loss of toes, feet, and/or legs.

  9. Family history and dietary factors can be risk factors for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Additional risk factors for type 2 diabetes (and prediabetes) are things like weight, race, age, activity level, and other health characteristics like high blood pressure.

  10. Blood glucose monitoring, insulin therapy, medication, and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle are just some ways those with diabetes can live with and maintain their disease. Healthcare professionals should be consulted for the treatment options that best suit an individual’s diagnosis.

Where do we go from here?

With America being the most obese country in the world and the United States also leading a global fast food industry, in many ways, we continue to put ourselves at greater risk for this disease — a disease that costs billions of dollars a year.

While some risk factors and other health struggles are out of our control, there are some things we can be doing to lower our chances of a diabetes diagnosis. Commitment to a healthier lifestyle, routine screenings with a licensed professional, and education on the disease are good starting points. After all, you know there’s nothing more important to us than both your physical and fiscal health —  this month and every month of the year.

What else do you think is important to note about diabetes? How are you spreading awareness about the disease during American Diabetes Month? Let us know on Facebook or share with us in the comments.

 

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