Millions of Americans are impacted by diabetes year-round. The National Institute of Diabetes designates the month of November to encourage diabetes awareness and help you get the real diabetes facts. If you don’t have diabetes, it is likely you know someone who does. Learn more about diabetes to determine the risk factors and discover how to possibly ward off this disease.
Diabetes Stats in the United States
Updated numbers from 2015 state that there are over 30 million children and adults in the US with diabetes.
- 23.1 million have already been diagnosed and another 7.2 million are still undiagnosed
- 12 million of those diagnosed with diabetes are over 65 years of age
- 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed yearly
Race and Ethnic Background Type 2 Diabetes
Certain groups are hit particularly hard with a diabetes diagnosis. The highest rates seen in the US effect Hispanics, African Americans, American Asians and American Indians.
- Hispanics have 12.1%
- African Americans have 12.7%
- American Indians living in the Southwest have 22.2%
- American Asians have 8.0% prevalence of diabetes
Reasons in racial differences include biological factors such as genes as well as certain social factors. Genetic family history of diabetes is well documented in racial minorities. Different ethnicities store fat in the abdominal regions of the body which increases insulin resistance, this then increases diabetes risk. Other reasons for a higher rate of diabetes in minorities include differences in eating and exercise patterns.
Prediabetes statistics in the United States
Around 84.1 million adults in America have prediabetes, which means they are at risk for eventually developing the disease. When people have prediabetes, blood glucose levels are above normal but not at levels for diagnosed diabetes. If changes are made early on, then diabetes may be prevented and avoided. Some simple changes would include losing 5-7% of your current body weight. This means if you weigh 200 pounds you need to lose about 14 pounds to have an impact on blood sugars. Eliminating or reducing processed foods and sweet, sugary drinks will help reduce weight and the risk of diabetes. Adding an exercise program such as walking for 30 minutes daily will help bring blood glucose numbers back to normal. Taking notice of pre-diabetes early on can have a huge impact on your future health.
Recent Cost of Diabetes
The cost of diabetes was just updated based on numbers from 2017. The total diabetes cost was 327 billion dollars in the US. Of that, 237 billion went to direct medical costs and 90 billion was attributed to lower productivity.
Risk factors and symptoms of type 2 diabetes
If pre-diabetes is not reversed or stopped then type 2 diabetes develops. Other risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes besides being overweight and inactive include family history, age, having gestational diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include increased thirst, slow healing wounds, blurry vision, being hungry and being extremely tired.
Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes Percentages
Type 2 diabetes remains much more common than type 1. About 5% of diagnosed cases are type 1 diabetes and 95% of diagnosed cases are type 2. Both kinds are chronic diseases that affect the way your body regulates glucose. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease which attacks the beta cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. Lack of insulin production means, “the key is missing” and glucose can’t get into the cells resulting in blood sugars going up. With type 2 diabetes, there is insulin production but either not enough or it is resistant. This means glucose will not get into the cells and blood sugars will go up.
Women can develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. There usually are no symptoms in gestational diabetes but the physician will be checking your blood sugar as part of a prenatal exam. This condition may cause problems for babies and mothers if it remains untreated. In November of 2018, National Diabetes Month focuses on gestational diabetes. Up to 10 percent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. There is no specific cause but there are risk factors involved. Gestational diabetes risk factors include being over the age of 25 when becoming pregnant, a family history of diabetes or pre-diabetes, having a previous baby of 9 pounds or higher, having a BMI of 30% or more and being from a racial minority. Gestational diabetes usually disappears when the pregnancy is completed. Gestational diabetes can put women at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure later in life. Gestational diabetes can be treated with a balanced diet, an exercise program and possibly medications such as insulin, if needed.
What are main concerns with diabetes?
Diabetes can lead to serious health issues including stroke, heart disease, amputation, blindness and kidney failure. Numbness may occur in extremities such as the fingers, toes, legs or feet called neuropathy. Make sure to have an annual eye exam to check for damage to the back of the eyes called retinopathy. Wear sun glasses to lower your risk of cataracts. People with diabetes are advised to remove their shoes during regular medical examinations to get their feet examined. They should also check their own legs and feet for cuts, sores, changes in temperature, callouses and other skin issues that could lead to serious infections and other problems. People with diabetes should never go barefoot either indoors or outdoors. Consider having a podiatrist trim your toenails if they are thick, have fungus or are difficult to cut to prevent injury. Use good mouth hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth daily. People with diabetes should see their dentist, as directed, to maintain their teeth properly. Gum or periodontal disease should be evaluated annually since it can raise blood sugars.
How can I stay healthy with diabetes?
The key to remaining healthy with diabetes is to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
- People with diabetes should eat a diet that includes whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meats and fish as well as plenty of vegetables and some fruits.
- Stay hydrated with plenty of plain water or low-calorie beverages.
- Learning to count carbohydrates can be a helpful tool with diabetes. Ask to work with a registered dietitian or a certified diabetes educator.
- Sugary foods should be strictly avoided.
- Eating salty, pre-packaged, processed foods can increase the risk of hypertension and heart problems.
- Limiting portion size is an excellent way to manage blood sugars.
- People with diabetes should use a blood glucose meter one or more times each day to test their blood sugar levels. Discuss with your medical professional how many times is best for you.
- Extreme highs and lows should be reported to a medical professional right away. Know the symptoms of low blood sugar such as feeling weak, shaky, sweaty, dizzy, having a headache and being hungry.
- Always have glucose tablets available to help combat the lows.
- Insulin and certain medications are used to treat diabetes along with life style changes. People with diabetes might be able to avoid taking medication and/or insulin with lifestyle changes.
- Get a medical checkup each year.
- Discuss your concerns with a doctor, especially if your family has a history of type 2 diabetes.
- Consider taking a diabetes course or being part of a diabetes support group to learn more about diabetes and how to make essential lifestyle changes.
National Diabetes Month is a time to raise awareness about this disease that affects millions of Americans. Knowledge is power when it comes to diabetes. Learning more about diabetes makes it possible to help your loved ones and you combat this disease