If one out of every 11 people you know was going to have a nasty chronic medical condition, that would be frightening, to say the least. Well, the truth is diabetes will affect nearly one in 11 of us. More than 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease and another 8 million may have it and not even know. Men are more likely to have undiagnosed diabetes. Beyond the medical challenges of diabetes, there’s a huge financial cost. Diabetes costs $245 billion in medical expense and lost work and wages for people with diabetes.
Diabetes is a disease that affects a person’s blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels. Diabetes causes the blood glucose to be too high.
Glucose comes from the foods we eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy.
With type 1 diabetes, your body doesn’t make insulin. With the more common type 2 diabetes your body does not make or use insulin well.
The symptoms of the disease can be so mild that they may not be noticed. The American Diabetes Association lists common diabetes symptoms as:
With diabetes, over time the high blood glucose levels can cause a range of serious medical problems. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations (other than injury related) and new cases of blindness among adults. It can cause nerve damage, heart disease and stroke.
It can also lead to chronic wounds such as ulcers. These sores are often seen on the feet or legs.
About a quarter of people with diabetes develop a foot ulcer during their lifetimes. In some cases wounds caused by diabetes can become chronic. That means they aren’t reduced in size by at least 50 percent after four weeks of standard wound care under a health care professional’s supervision.
Additional treatment can be deployed to address the chronic wound and reduce the risk of infection, which can threaten the patient’s limb and even their life.
Throughout treatment, health care professionals will continue to work together to heal the wound and preserve limb function.
You can reduce your risk of diabetes by:
Once diagnosed, a person can manage diabetes largely by following the same steps as reducing risk:
If you have a family history of diabetes (this increases your risk) or questions about the disease, visit with your health care professional. A diabetes screening or diabetes test might be recommended.