Diabetes in America-The Impact, Issues and Ways to Prevent
Posted on Jun 12, 2015

The Impact of Diabetes by the Numbers

According to the CDC, just over 29 million people in the United States have diabetes. That roughly equates to almost 1 in 10 people living in the United States, and many of those with diabetes are currently undiagnosed. A staggering 8.1 million of the 29 million people living with diabetes have not been diagnosed, meaning 27.8% of those with diabetes have not received proper medical care for their diabetic symptoms. Worse, 86 million Americans have prediabetes and 9 out of 10 of said individuals are currently unaware of their circumstances. Without intervention, prediabetes will likely become Type 2 Diabetes in a decade or less. Without proper nutrition and exercise, prediabetes will become diabetes in only five years for 15 to 30% of prediabetics. Diabetes comes in two forms, Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2 is far more common, given that 95% of diabetics suffer from Type 2. This type of diabetes occurs when individuals cannot use insulin properly within their body, and 1 in 3 individuals will develop this over their lifetime. Type 1, on the other hand, occurs when the body does not make enough insulin. There is no known way to prevent this form of diabetes, and it is by far the least common of the two types. No matter which type of diabetes, however, properly managing diabetes becomes essential. Given the dangerous implications of diabetes, as one might expect, the health costs are staggering. Diabetics nationwide have an estimated $245 billion in medical costs and lost wages as a result of their diabetes, and the typical costs of care for a diabetic are twice as high as the average person. In addition to the staggering cost of diabetes, diabetics also have a 50 percent greater chance of death than a non-diabetic. Further, diabetics have increased health risks and common ailments as a result of their diabetes.

Common Issues Associated with Diabetes

There are many common issues associated with diabetes, but one of the most unique issues are related to feet. Diabetics are at greater risk of losing their feet, toes and legs since a complication of diabetes is that blood circulation becomes difficult. In the worst case scenario this can lead to amputations, but a more common issue that is caused by this loss of circulation is foot ulcers. Given the difficulties of circulation when diagnosed with diabetes, those ulcers worsen rapidly and are difficult to treat once they exist. As such, the best practice is to properly manage circulation at all times (which will be discussed in the next section). Other issues associated with diabetes involve increased risk for a number of serious ailments. Diabetics are at an increased risk for kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and blindness as well. Fortunately, the likelihood of these symptoms can be greatly reduced by reducing blood sugar and following a few easy steps.

How to Effectively Prevent and Manage Diabetes

For starters, effectively treating diabetes should first begin with preventing and/or delaying diabetes for as long as possible. The best way to do this at the outset is to lose weight. As such,  eating healthy foods and exercising regularly is the best way to stop diabetes in its tracks. This advice is especially important for individuals over 45 who are overweight, have high blood pressure or have a family history of Type 2 diabetes. Once diagnosed with diabetes, however, it is important to treat and manage it effectively. It is important to work with a health professional in the early days of the diabetes diagnosis since they will be able to tell you the specific nature of your diagnosis and where to focus your diabetes management efforts. As a general matter, however, once again it is important to stay active, exercise and manage the diet efficiently. As a diabetic, this means watching out for foods that spike blood sugar. Additionally, it is essential to have an eye exam every year if that was not a typical part of your healthcare routine prior to the diabetes diagnosis. Seek out an expert in diabetes eye care who will be sure to catch any diabetes-related eye problems early and know how to treat them. Beyond that, there is important information regarding foot care that is helpful to know. As mentioned, feet ulcers and more severe issues are one of the worst diabetes risks, so properly taking care of your feet is essential. Inspect feet daily, making sure that redness, swelling, blistering or sores is carefully monitored. To that end, wash the feet daily and keep them as soft as possible. In the event that a callous or sore is noticed, do not take care of it yourself. Seek the help of a medical professional who has the expertise necessary to deal with the issue effectively. In short, take care of your feet and monitor them constantly in order to keep your feet as safe as possible. By following these tips, living with diabetes becomes manageable. Stay active, eat healthy and stay vigilant in order to live a healthy, active life as a diabetic.  For more information, view this infographic about diabetes from the CDC.