Diabetes Awareness Month: It’s not always a silent killer

It causes approximately 72,499 deaths in the United States every year. The risk of dying from diabetes is about twice that of people without diabetes of similar age. Although in many cases of type 2 diabetes, its victims are unaware that they have it, in others it is most definitely not a silent killer, causing a myriad of complications like heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, infections, and amputations.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Knowing the warning signs and living a healthy lifestyle are important weapons in the fight against diabetes.

People with Diabetes Need Health Care Reform

The American Diabetes Association reports that 24 million people in the United States have diabetes and 57 million other Americans are risk. Most shockingly, if current trends continue, one out of every three children born today will face a future with diabetes.

What is diabetes? “Diabetes Mellitus” is a term for a group of diseases that affect how the body uses blood glucose, the main energy source for the cells in your muscles and tissues. It is the body’s main source of fuel. Although they share similar names and are often confused, there are two distinct forms of diabetes.

In type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, the body fails to produce insulin, a hormone necessary to convert sugar and other foods into energy. About 5 to 10 percent of people with diabetes have type 1, and are often diagnosed as children or young adults. 

Type 2 diabetes is much more common. Type 2 diabetics do not produce enough insulin or the body cannot use the insulin properly.

What about pre-diabetes? That’s higher than normal blood glucose levels, but not quite high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. It is a clear warning sign that should be heeded. That’s when it’s time to get very serious about making some changes.

What are the risk factors for having diabetes? Some risk factors, like genetics, are clearly out of our control. 

Other risk factors are ours to change. Certainly excess weight, poor diet, and lack of exercise are things we can control. According to The National Institutes of Health risk factors for diabetes include:

  • Age greater than 45 years
  • Diabetes during a previous pregnancy
  • Excess body weight (especially around the waist)
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • HDL cholesterol under 35mg/dL
  • High blood levels of triglycerides, a type of fat molecule (250 mg/dL or more)
  • High blood pressure (greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg)
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • Low activity level (exercising less than 3 times a week)
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • A condition called acanthosis nigricans, which causes dark, thickened skin around the neck or armpits
  • Persons from certain ethnic groups, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans, have a higher risk for diabetes.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Type 1:

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue and Irritability

Type 2:

  • Any of the type 1 symptoms
  • Frequent infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet
  • Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections
  • Often people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms

How is diabetes diagnosed? 

  • A fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test measures blood glucose in a person who has not eaten anything for at least 8 hours.
  • An oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) measures blood glucose after a person fasts at least 8 hours and 2 hours after the person drinks a glucose-containing beverage.
  • A random plasma glucose test, also called a casual plasma glucose test, measures blood glucose without regard to when the person being tested last ate. 

How is diabetes treated? Diabetes treatment varies according to each patient’s needs and requires dedication in order to manage the disease. People with diabetes must monitor what they eat and keep track of their blood glucose levels. A proper diet (check with your personal physician) and exercise are essential, and diabetics must take special care with their overall health. Type 1 diabetics and some type 2 diabetics must self-inject insulin on a daily basis or use an insulin pump. 

Diabetes and Health Care Reform: The cost associated with insulin and other diabetes medical supplies is staggering. Lack of insurance (pre-existing condition) and high health care costs are forcing many people to cut back on – or even go without – doctor visits, medications and diabetes supplies. Without adequate care, too many diabetics suffer needlessly from preventable life-limiting or life-threatening complications and require more expensive care later.

Lives are at stake. Please take a moment to tell Congress that People with Diabetes Need Health Care Reform.

Action Items:

Pledge to Promote World Diabetes Day in 3 Ways

Ask the FDA to Better Serve Diabetes Patient Needs

People with Diabetes Need Health Care Reform

From Healthy and Green Living:

Are You at Risk for Diabetes? Top 7 Factors

Let’s connect on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo

Photo: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/550152


Sarah D.
Sarah D8 years ago

I don't have diabetes but my doctor gave me one of those little devices just so I can monitor my blood sugar.

Heidi M.
Heidi M8 years ago

I am 14 years old and have had diabetes for almost ten years now. I know it's not funn, but I don't have a reason to hate everything about it. Because of Saskatchewan's diabetic camps I met my best friend and nothing would be worth not meeting her.

Barbara C.
Barbara C8 years ago

I have had diabetes for three and a half years now, and am managing it quite well with generic drugs. I am 70 now and feeling like a young person again. I've lost 87-1/2 lbs. since I began treatment. I feel great. The pregnant women with diabetes deserve to be heard and helped too. I have great concern for them.

Maria H.
Maria H8 years ago

Well, i have my mom with tyoe 1 diabetes adn well.....it just horrible, because...everything is affecting her. For instance, her nervous system is all sensative and as well muscle tissue. Her blood circulation is very bad which produce her pain even while trying to sleep. Even that she gets all the treatment possible, is not that afective. I worry a lot abou ther and seing my mom suffer like this and many other people.. In my family case, everyone from my relatives have diabetes 1, so I pretty much have to take care....I just recomend to those who are just beginning to get Diabetes to do their best in their diet, eat healthy, and do their medications as is told and God help them...kisses

Merideth G.
Merideth G8 years ago

I suggest to all who have been diagnosed or are concerned to read Dr. Gabriel Cousens's excellent book, There Is A Cure For Diabetes (co-author Rainoshek), or watch the film, Simply Raw, which is about reversing diabetes with live, vegan food. It's amazing, and needs wider distribution. The film is available at www.rawfor30days.com (or it might be rawforthirty.com, not sure). Google it!

Sandra H.
Sandra H.8 years ago

As far as pregnant diabetics (gestational diabetic), I can't tell you how many indigent pregnant diabetic patients we would see every day. The endocrinologist is the only one in this particular county and basiclly he worked for free.

Sandra H.
Sandra H.8 years ago

I worked at a clinic for 28 years and the only thing that was a constant was that diabetic patients are real bad about compliance. The worst!
They come in, get tested, their record for the last two weeks checked,,,if they keep one, walk out the door and buy a big chocolate bar and a Pepsi. Then they would show up in the ER on our dime in crisis and wonder why.

Bruce Anderson
8 years ago

As Lionel B pointed out in his comment, most other countries have the medical means available and accessible for all.

Here in the states, someone with a permanent or recurring condition like diabetes, that have to medically manage for life do not have that luxury and if costs are prohibitive, they suffer while some even die. Currently referring a system as such, what does that say of a country?

As noted in the article nearly 75, 000 Americans die each year from diabetes complications. That amount would overfill a sports stadium.

Besides educating us on exactly what diabetes is, this article also alludes to the fact that anyone in America with an ongoing condition, the only prescription prescribed for those that don't have the monetary means to properly keep the disease in check is...good luck with that...

Lionel B.
Lionel Burman8 years ago

Here in Britain, I was diagnosed with type2 diabetes more than 20 years ago. I receive all the treatment I need from the National Health Service; this included regular health checks, in-depth eye examinations, foot care, and all medication - including a free blood sugar monitor. All I have to pay is the cost of travel to hospital, if I need it, but mostly I attend my local doctor's clinic.

Dorothy Minichiello

I found a fabulous support group for all types of diabetes! They support you with conf calls, techie tools, information/education and subliminal audio's for diabete's management! email me if you would like more information. It is available to anyone, anywhere in the world! My email is thehealthyglow@gmail.com