Common questions about diabetes and REACH
Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body uses food. In order for your body to have energy it changes the food you eat into glucose or sugar. Your body then carries this sugar to your body's cells. A hormone, called insulin, helps the sugar get into the cells. Diabetes occurs when the body does not make enough insulin or use it very well. When glucose cannot enter the cells, it builds up in the blood instead of going into the cells. It is estimated that nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes-over 8% of the US population. However Approximately 7 million remain undiagnosed and do not know they have the disease. In the US, 79 million people are estimated to have Prediabetes, putting them at high risk for eventually developing type 2 diabetes. (The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2011.)
||What are the complications of diabetes?
Over time, this build up of sugar in your blood can cause damage to the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, and nerves, leading to serious health problems, even death.
Some of the diabetes-related complications include:
- Heart disease
- Vision loss or blindness
- Amputations (loss of foot or leg)
- Nerve damage
- Kidney disease
- Lower life expectancy
There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be managed!
||How can I control my diabetes?
There are a lot of things you can do to control your diabetes. These include:
- Stay at a weight that is right for you
- Become more active
- Eat meals that are low in total and saturated fat, high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods
- Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly
- Do not smoke
- Let others help
- Brush and floss your teeth regularly
- See your dentist regularly
- Use the health care system
- If prescribed, take your medication correctly
- Perform routine foot care
- Have your feet, eyes, and kidneys checked regularly
The causes of diabetes are multi-faceted and still under research. What we do know is that both genetics and our environment play a role. Your risk for type 2 diabetes increases as you age, and if you are overweight or do not get regular physical activity.
||What are the different types of diabetes?
- Type 1 - A disease in which the body does not produce any insulin, most often occurring in children and young adults. People with Type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5-10% of diabetes.
- Type 2 - A metabolic disorder resulting from the body's inability to make enough, or properly use, insulin. Type 2 diabetes, which most often appears after age 45, is also rising among children and persons under 45 years. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease, accounting for 90- 95% of diabetes. It is nearing epidemic proportions, due to an increased number of older Americans and a greater prevalence of obesity and sedentary lifestyles.
- Other - Some women develop diabetes during pregnancy. Known as gestational diabetes, this condition occurs in 2-5% of all pregnancies. Other less common types of diabetes, which together account for 1-2% of all diagnosed cases, result from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, drugs, malnutrition, infections, and other illnesses.
Many people have diabetes and don't know it. If you can answer "yes" to any of these questions, you may have a higher risk of developing diabetes:
- Does your family have a history of diabetes?
- Is your blood pressure at or above 140/90 or have you been told by your doctor that you have high blood pressure?
- Are you African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or Native American?
- Do you have abnormal blood cholesterol? Is your HDL ("good cholesterol") below 35 mg/dl or is your triglyceride level above 250 mg/dl?
- Did you have diabetes during pregnancy?
- Did you have a baby weighing more than 9 pounds at birth?
- Are you overweight?
- Are you under 65 years of age AND get little or no exercise?
- Are you 65 years of age or older?
- Take this test to find out more
||What are some of the signs and symptoms of diabetes?
Do you have any of the symptoms on this list? If so, call your health care provider right away.
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Often tired
- Blurred vision
- Tingling or numbness in the feet
- Sores that don't heal
- Increased hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
Remember, the sooner you know if you have diabetes, the sooner you can learn to control it.
||What about different racial/ethnic groups?
Minority racial and ethnic groups are hardest hit by diabetes and bear a disproportionate share of the burden of the disease.
In King County and WA State, the diabetes death rate in the African American (AA) population is 3.3 times higher than it is for whites. The age-adjusted diabetes death rate for AA in King County is 26% higher than the national average. Diabetes death rates for Asians/Pacific Islanders are significantly higher than the rate for whites. Diabetes death rates for Hispanic/Latinos (H/L) are also higher than whites, although similar to national rates. Limited data are available for Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (NHPI), but 2008 data indicate NHPI experienced higher age-adjusted death rates than King County residents overall.
Racial disparity is evident in the prevalence of obesity and physical inactivity. In King County in 2008, the prevalence of obesity (BMI>30) was 31.3% among AA, 22% for H/L, 37% for NHPI, versus 19.6% among whites. Physical inactivity rates (did not participate in any physical activity during the past 30 days) were 27% for H/L, 21.7% Asian/PI, and 28.4% AA, versus 12% for whites. Disparities in diabetes morbidity and mortality are associated with poverty, education, and employment status. Among adults in King County, diabetes prevalence was 18.1% among those adults living at/ below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level compared to 8% for those above this income level. Diabetes death rates associated with poverty are not the same across racial groups. The death rate for adult AA living in low poverty areas was 2.6 times the rate of whites living in high poverty areas.
Lack of health insurance remains a major barrier in obtaining quality health care to prevent and/or manage diabetes. In King County, rates of uninsured persons have declined overall, but disparities remain. H/L households have the highest percentage of uninsured adults by race/ethnicity with 47.6% of households without insurance, compared to 28 .9% of AA, 13.6% of API versus 10.8% for whites.
Public Health - Seattle & King County, Public Health Data Watch, Volumes 9 & 10, 2007-2008.