I don’t suffer from diabetes
The chances are that you’re right; you do not have and will not suffer from diabetes. Don’t take more risks than you need. There are ways to reduce the possibility of the risk of this debilitating condition.
In 2019 37.3 million Americans were suffering from diabetes, a potentially life-threatening condition (11.3% of the population.) The disease can be managed when detected early.
Out of those 37.3 million people, 8.5 million were undiagnosed. Every year 1.4 million Americans (over the age of 20) are diagnosed with diabetes. And there are 9.6 million people diagnosed with prediabetes. Prediabetes is a condition that is an early sign of diabetes. cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics- report/index.html.
Over 100,000 Americans died in each the years 2020 and 2022. Diabetes is now the seventh highest cause of death in the USA (data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“type2 diabetes is relatively preventable, so it’s even more tragic that so many deaths are occurring.” (Dr. Paul Hsu, UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health)
Before we consider how to improve our chances of avoiding diabetes, we must first know what it is: -,
What is diabetes?
Good health depends on your liver’s consistent ability to use glucose (sugar) in food. Your liver is the organ, and insulin is the hormone that enables cells in your body to convert the glucose in your blood (often called blood glucose) into energy. A lack of insulin causes blood glucose levels to rise. Blood glucose levels too high will eventually cause health problems. These health problems come under three main headings, type1, type2, and gestational. Prediabetes, as its name implies, is an early indicator of possible type 2 diabetes.
Whatever the cause of diabetes, the effect is similar. In the long term, high blood sugar (glucose) levels can cause damage to your blood vessels. These can damage your
- small blood vessels which supply the eyes, nerves, and kidneys
- large blood vessels which supply the heart and limbs
Type 1 diabetes (juvenile diabetes) is when the pancreas produces either no or insufficient insulin to control the body’s blood glucose level. The glucose is not converted into energy and builds up in the bloodstream. Between 5% and 10% of diagnosed cases of diabetes are type1. It develops most often in children, teens, and young adults. Type1 diabetes can advance quickly.
Researchers think that the cause of diabetes is an autoimmune reaction (the body’s defense system mistakenly attacks itself) that inhibits insulin making. The condition is not inheritable, but some specific genes (which are inherited) make the autoimmune response more likely. Studies suggest that having close relatives (parents/siblings) with type1 diabetes makes the condition more likely. Lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise do not cause type1 diabetes
Type2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces insulin and the blood cells do not respond correctly (insulin resistance). The blood glucose is not converted effectively into energy, and the level in the bloodstream rises.Type2 diabetes most often develops in adults over 45 but is increasingly more common in children, teens, and younger adults. About 1 in ten Americans have diabetes: 90% to 95% of cases are type2
Gestational diabetes. During pregnancy, the body produces more hormones and goes through other changes. The most common of them is gaining weight. One less obvious is that your body uses more insulin. In the vast majority of cases, this is not a problem. Sometimes, the pancreas does not cope with the higher demand, as with type2 diabetes, the blood glucose level rises.
Prediabetes can be considered an indicator of a condition that, if ignored, can lead to Type2 diabetes. Blood glucose levels are higher than average. They may not be high enough to diagnose type2 diabetes. A CDC estimate suggests that 96 million (one in three) Americans have prediabetes, and 8 in 10 don’t know they have it.
Am I at risk? Can diabetes be inherited?
Diabetes is a complex condition. Although diabetes is not directly inherited, the genes that cause it are. If there is a history of diabetes in your immediate family (parents or siblings), you are more likely to develop type2 diabetes. The likelihood of developing diabetes increases with age (45 and older). There are also environmental (external) factors and behaviors that increase your risk, such as
- being overweight or obese
- having high blood pressure
- having high triglyceride and cholesterol levels
- being relatively inactive
- using nicotine
And most significantly, PREDIABETES
What are the symptoms?
Many people have no symptoms, which accounts for the high number of people unaware that they have prediabetes. Common symptoms of diabetes and prediabetes are:-
- Frequent urination (especially at night)
- Feeling very thirsty(drinking 3-4 liters per day)
- Feeling very hungry (even after meals)
- Experiencing extreme tiredness (especially without physical exertion)
- Pain or numbness in the feet or hands
- Blurred vision
Left untreated, these symptoms of diabetes can develop into complications such as kidney failure, blood vessel blockages, heart disease, or blindness. Suppose you experience these symptoms (risk factors). You should talk to your healthcare provider about testing your blood sugar levels there.
Can diabetes be prevented or cured?
There is no cure for diabetes type1, an autoimmune condition that dramatically reduces the body’s ability to produce insulin. The lack of insulin makes it hard to control blood sugar levels. The earlier the condition is detected, the less likely it is to cause broader complications.
Diabetes type1 is a lifelong condition that requires disciplined management.
- Insulin replacement either by injection (often self-administered) or by insulin pump
- Tracking of blood glucose + a good understanding of their implications
- Adopting a healthy diet and eating plan
- Taking regular exercise (physical activity)
These actions are vital, but you must work closely with your healthcare team. Keep your doctor/specialists, dietician, and pharmacist informed of any changes in your condition.
Effective management of diabetes type2 keeps blood sugar levels within the target range. It aims to prevent both short and long-term complications.
Critical to successful diabetes management is managing blood sugar levels. Aim to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). Your healthcare team will work with you to agree on your targets.
Your commitment is essential. You will need to:-
- Take the prescribed medicines
- Track (at home) your blood sugar and blood pressure
- Achieve (and maintain) a healthy weight
- Take exercise (physical activity) daily
- Maintain a healthy balanced diet
Does my health plan cover diabetes?
Many people are concerned that their health insurance provider will refuse coverage if they have diabetes.
All ACA-compliant plans, whether individual or small groups, must cover these conditions, which are risk factors for diabetes type 2:
- Type2 diabetes
- Blood pressure
- Cholesterol (adults of certain ages)
- Diet counseling ( adults at risk of chronic disease, e.g., diabetes type2)
- Excess weight (screening and treatment)
- Alcohol misuse (screening and counseling)
- Tobacco use (screening. and cessation interventions for users)
Pregnant women are entitled to free screening for gestational diabetes (for those 24-28 weeks pregnant and those at high risk, e.g., family history of diabetes).
These tests and screenings are FREE: no deductibles, no co-pays, and no co-insurance if your provider is in your plan’s network. Be aware that these tests and screening indicate the need for further needs, e.g., medication or services, e.g., specialist consultation. These needs and services will not be “free.” The proportion of these costs you will pay depends on your insurer and plan.
Medicare (part A) is free, but you must enroll to take advantage of the benefits. The benefits are broadly similar to those covered by ACA- compliant health plans. Original Medicare does not cover the cost of medication. Your out-of-pocket costs-deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurances will depend on your chosen Medicare plan.
It makes sense to discuss your possible healthcare needs with your doctor. A trained insurance expert with knowledge and experience can help you find the best health insurance to meet your specific requirements.