For many Americans, diabetes is sadly considered a minor medical limitation rather than the life-changing disease it is. Attitudes toward this illness continue to play a troubling role in what's now generally considered an epidemic.
Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes; one in three people are expected to have the disease by 2050.
Another 79 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes
Diabetes takes more lives each year than HIV and breast cancer combined.
The American Diabetes Association estimates that one out of every five dollars spent on healthcare is spent on diabetes.
November is American Diabetes Month. Raising awareness of this ever-growing disease is one of the main efforts of the association designed to change attitudes about the issues surrounding diabetes and the many people who are impacted by the disease.
On the heels of calling on physicians to take a more individualized approach to treating diabetes, the association is now encouraging patients to tell their stories about what living with diabetes is like. This year's theme, A Day in the Life of Diabetes, is being shared on Facebook (facebook.com/AmericanDiabetesAssociation) where patients describe what goes into living an ordinary day with diabetes and also to dispel many myths and give hope to those who have or may be developing diabetes.
Myth: Diabetes doesn't run in my family, so I'm safe.
Family history is only one of several risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
Myth: You'll know if you have diabetes by your symptoms.
Not always. Type 2 diabetes often goes undiagnosed because it usually has few or no symptoms when it first develops.
Myth: People with type 2 diabetes who need to use insulin are in serious trouble.
Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, and most people with it eventually need insulin. By using insulin to keep their diabetes in good control, people with type 2 can often avoid complications and lead a healthy life.
Myth: You have to lose a lot of weight for your diabetes to improve.
Losing just 7 percent of your body weight can offer significant health benefits—about 15 pounds if you weigh 200.
Myth: People with diabetes need to follow a special diet.
People with diabetes benefit from the same healthy diet that is good for everyone else: plenty of whole grains and fruits and vegetables, with a limited amount of fat and refined sugar.
Myth: Women with diabetesn shouldn't get pregnant.
Women who manage their diabetes well can have a normal pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby.
It is a manageable disease and in most cases, preventable.
Who is at Greater Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?
Page 2 of 2 - n People with pre-diabetes (fasting blood glucose level consistently elevated above what is considered normal)
n People over age 45
n People with a family history of diabetes
n People who are overweight
n People who do not exercise regularly
n People with low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides, high blood pressure
n Certain racial and ethnic groups (e.g., Non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians and Alaska Natives)
n Women who had gestational diabetes, or who have had a baby weighing 9 pounds or more at birth
St. Mary’s Medical Center provides diabetes education and comprehensive care for those hospitalized with the disease, as well as management courses and support groups for those facing diabetes on an outpatient basis.
Another option may be bariatric surgery. It is one of the most effective options to cure morbid obesity. Research has shown most bariatric patients with diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or sleep apnea experienced improvement, or complete resolution after losing weight. St. Mary’s hosts regular educational seminars about bariatric surgery. The next one is Nov. 29, in the Education Center at 6 p.m.
For information on Diabetes education, call 816-655-5515. To talk with the Bariatric Services Navigator, call 816-655-5560.
Bryan Hughes, M.D., practices at the Oak Grove Medical Clinic of St. Mary’s Medical Center.