Diabetes: Startling Statistics
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease that affects the lives of about 20.8 million people in the Unites States, 6.2 million of whom are unaware that they even have the disease. Every day, 2,200 new cases of diabetes are diagnosed, and an estimated 1.5 million new cases are identified each year. The disease is marked by the inability to manufacture or properly use insulin and impairs the body's ability to convert sugars, starches, and other foods into energy. The long-term effects of elevated blood sugar (hyperglycemia) are damage to the eyes, heart, feet, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels.
Symptoms of hyperglycemia may include frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, unexplained weight loss, tingling or numbness of the feet or hands, blurred vision, fatigue, slow-to-heal wounds, and susceptibility to certain infections. People who have any of these symptoms and have not been tested for diabetes are putting themselves at considerable risk and should see a physician without delay.
The growth of the disease worldwide is especially alarming. The World Health Organization (WHO) expects the number of new diabetes cases to double in the next 25 years from 135 million to nearly 300 million. Much of the growth will occur in developing countries where aging, unhealthy diets, obesity, and sedentary lifestyles will contribute to the onset of the disease.
- According to a recent survey, about 86,000 lower limbs are amputated annually due to complications from diabetes
- Diabetes is the leading cause of end-stage kidney disease, accounting for about 44 percent of new cases
- Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults age 20 to 74
While there is no cure for diabetes, there is hope. With a proper diet, exercise, medical care, and careful management at home, a person with diabetes can keep the most serious of the consequences at bay and enjoy a long, full life.
If You Have Diabetes Already, You Need To:
- Wash feet daily
- Inspect feet and toes daily
- Lose weight
- Wear thick, soft socks
- Stop smoking
- Cut toenails straight across
- See your podiatric physician
- Be properly measured and fitted every time you buy new shoes
If You Have Diabetes Already, Make Sure You:
- Don't go barefoot
- Don't wear high heels, sandals, and shoes with pointed toes
- Don't drink in excess
- Don't wear anything that is too tight around the legs
- Never try to remove calluses, corns, or warts by yourself