Diabetes in 2019: What You Need to Know

by Melissa Chichester

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, diabetes is one of the most expensive and chronic diseases that affects over 23 million people. Even more alarming is that many people may not know they are at risk: 84 million adults have prediabetes, while over 7 million people are undiagnosed. These numbers make diabetes one of the most common health issues in the United States.

What is diabetes?

When someone has Type 1 diabetes, the body does not make insulin or it is making very little. It is currently unknown how Type 1 diabetes can be prevented but for the small population that has Type 1 diabetes, it can be managed. On the other hand, Type 2 diabetes can be prevented with lifestyle maintenance.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and happens when the body does not use insulin properly.

This is also known as insulin resistance. In turn, the pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for the deficiency. In the long run, the pancreas cannot maintain blood glucose levels. Because of these actions, blood glucose levels rise higher than they should.

How is diabetes diagnosed?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the following methods may be used to formally diagnose diabetes:

  • Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test
  • Fasting blood sugar test (8 hours of fasting or more)
  • Random blood sugar test
  • Oral glucose tolerance test
  • Urine tests

Only a licensed physician can diagnose diabetes or prediabetes.

Who is likely to develop diabetes?

Diabetes can impact anyone, but there are some factors that can increase risks. The following are considered risk factors for Type 2 diabetes according to the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Being age 45 or older
  • Obesity
  • Are of Native American, African American, or Hispanic descent
  • Live a sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history
  • Fast facts about diabetes (According to the American Diabetes Association):

Diabetes is considered by many professionals to be a fast-growing public health crisis. The following statistics highlight just part of the story:

  • Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the US.
  • Every year, 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes occurs in 9.2% of pregnancies and happens when the woman cannot make and use all of the insulin the body needs for pregnancy.
  • In adults over 60, having both diabetes and cardiovascular disease may shorten lifespans by up to 12 years.
  • Approximately 193,000 Americans under the age of 20 have diagnosed diabetes.

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