LIVINGSTON — Currently, 24 million children and adults in the United States live with diabetes. Of these, nearly 6 million do not know they have the disease and it is estimated that another 57 million adults have pre-diabetes. Over the last 50 years, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has risen from 1.5 million to 17.9 million, an increase of epidemic proportions. If current trends continue, 1 out of every 3 children born today will face a future with diabetes.
To help raise awareness, November is American Diabetes Month®—a time to shine a spotlight on a serious disease that leads to potentially life-threatening complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and amputation.
“Diabetes is a chronic disease of the endocrine system that results in high blood glucose levels,” explains Elaine Atkinson, APRN, BC, CDE, a diabetic educator at Saint Barnabas Medical Center.
There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, formerly known as insulin dependent or juvenile onset diabetes; type 2, formerly known as non-insulin dependent or adult onset diabetes; and gestational diabetes, which develops in up to four percent of pregnant women and increases the risk of later developing type 2 diabetes.
There are no known methods to prevent type 1 diabetes. Most people with diabetes have type 2, which often can be prevented or delayed with lifestyle changes, including eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and participating in daily physical exercise.
“Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless and oftentimes normal,” Atkinson explains. She adds that recent studies indicate that the early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complication of diabetes.
If you have one or more of these symptoms, it is recommended that you see doctor right away:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme hunger
- Sudden vision changes
- Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
- Feeling tired much of the time
- Very dry skin
- Sores that are slow to heal
- More infections than usual
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