November is Diabetes Awareness Month when we address a nasty disease that plagues over 29 million people in the U.S. Diabetes alone is life threatening but also leads to many other health complications. This month designated by the American Diabetes Association is a time to examine the statistics, risk factors and complications of diabetes along with the lifestyle habits that we can change to reduce our risk.
According to the CDC, approximately one out of every 11 Americans has diabetes but 25% of those with the disease don’t know they have it. Managing symptoms of diabetes is essential to living with the disease. Without proper treatment, diabetes becomes even more life threatening. When looking at type 2 diabetes alone, at the rate at which diabetes occurs now, one out of three Americans will get diabetes in their lifetime.
Around 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes – the condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal increasing risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Unfortunately nine out of 10 of these individuals are unaware of their status. When people make significant lifestyle changes, they can often prevent themselves from becoming diabetics.
Medical costs and lost productivity for people with diabetes is upwards of $245 billion dollars yearly. Diabetics on average spend twice as much on health care costs as those without diabetes.
Nearly 70,000 people die of diabetes every year although deaths of other causes based on complications due to diabetes bring the total to a much higher number.
Health Complications due to Diabetes
Diabetes causes blood glucose imbalance in the body as cells become insulin resistant and cannot keep sugar levels at a normal, stable level. Blood glucose is intertwined with nearly every function of the body. Therefore, diabetes leads to a host of medical complications. Among them are:
- Heart Disease including heart attack, stroke, atherosclerosis, angina and coronary artery disease
- Kidney damage which can lead to kidney failure or kidney disease
- Nerve damage that can cause digestive issues, sensitivity, numbness, burning sensations and pain
- Eye problems possibly leading to blindness
- Hearing loss
- Skin conditions including bacterial and fungal infections
- Toe, Foot and Leg issues that may lead to amputation
- Alzheimer’s disease
Later this week we’ll take a look at the risk factors associated with diabetes and lifestyle habits to prevent and manage diabetes in the second part of our salute to Diabetes Awareness Month.
Sources: American Diabetes Association, Center for Disease Control and Mayo Clinic
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