More than 15 million people, 5.9% of the U.S. population, have Diabetes Mellitus (DM). Diabetes is a chronic disease with no known cure and is the 7th leading cause of death. Particularly troubling is the fact that 34% of the people with DM do not know they have it until they have life-threatening complications. The good news is that DM is a manageable disease when there is cooperation between you and your doctor.
DM is a disease in which the body does not produce, or properly use, insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into usable energy. It has two variants:
- Type 1 - An autoimmune disease in which the body does not produce any insulin, most often occurring in children and young adults. Type 1 accounts for 5-10% of DM.
- Type 2 - A metabolic disorder resulting from the body's inability to make enough, or properly use, insulin. Accounts for 90-95% of DM.
Warning signs of diabetes include:
- Type 1: Frequent urination, irritability, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue
- Type 2: Any of Type 1 indications, frequent infections (gum, skin, bladder), blurred vision, cuts or bruises that heal slowly, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
Proper management of diabetes is critical to longevity and quality of life. The National Center for Quality Assurance (NCQA) includes the following points in rating quality health care. If you have diabetes, is your doctor testing the following?
Eye exams: Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in people ages 20 to 74.
Foot exams: Approximately 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of diabetic nerve damage, which, in severe forms, can lead to lower limb amputations.
LDL, Cholesterol and hemoglobin A1c levels controlled: These measurements indicate risk for heart disease, stroke and management of glucose levels. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease, or to suffer a stroke.
Urinalyses for kidney disease performed: Diabetes is the leading cause of end-stage renal disease, accounting for 40% of new cases a year.
This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission.