Diabetes is becoming the greatest public health crisis of the next quarter century. In a new report from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), one in five individuals in Dallas, Houston, throughout Texas and in the rest of the country is either at high risk for developing Type-2 diabetes or are unaware that they already have diabetes.
To address this burgeoning health crisis, the ADA is issuing an urgent call-to-action for Americans to find out their risk for Type 2 diabetes. The numbers are staggering, with more than six million Americans who have diabetes, but don’t even know it. While another 54 million Americans have pre-diabetes, placing them at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes sometime during their lives.
The World Health Organization divides the disease into three main forms: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy.
Type 1 is usually a result of autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin. Type 2 is characterized by tissue-wide insulin resistance and varies widely; it sometimes progresses to loss of beta cell function. Gestational diabetes is similar to Type 2 diabetes, being that it involves insulin resistance; the hormones of pregnancy cause insulin resistance in those women genetically predisposed to developing this condition.
Researchers say Types 1 and 2 are incurable chronic conditions, but both types have been treated with insulin since it became medically available in 1921. Physicians also say the diseases can be managed with a combination of dietary treatments, pills, and, more often than not, insulin supplementation. Gestational diabetes however usually cures itself upon delivery.
Among the primary risk factors for Type 2 diabetes are being overweight, sedentary, over the age of 45 and having a family history of diabetes. African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at an increased risk, as are women who have had babies weighing more than nine pounds at birth.
The ADA encourages people who are overweight, physically inactive and over the age of 45 years to take the American Diabetes Risk Test, which asks seven simple questions about weight, age, lifestyle and family history — all potential risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. The agency says people scoring ten points or more are at a high risk for diabetes and are encouraged to schedule an appointment to see their doctor.
Early detection and treatment can help prevent Type 2 diabetes or serious complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, amputation, and even death. By taking the American Diabetes Risk Test, people can be one step closer to having the information they need to lead a healthier life.
Medical professionals say individuals with Type 2 diabetes can live for years without realizing that they have the disease. However, individuals with diabetes may exhibit noticeable symptoms, which include frequent urination, blurred vision and excessive thirst. Yet, most individuals diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes do not show these warning signs when they develop the disease.
According to researchers, Type 2 diabetes only becomes evident when people develop one or more of its serious complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye damage, and nerve damage, which can lead to amputation.
How you treat your body when you’re young will certainly affect your health when you get older. Eventually, it will also affect your wallet.
Pat Carpenter writes for Precedent Insurance Company. Precedent puts a new spin on health insurance. Learn more at Precedent.com