The 5 Most Surprising Facts About Diabetes

Photo of someone performing a finger prick to measure blood sugar levels

When you want to learn more about diabetes, your doctor and the American Diabetes Association. are likely your best bet for everything you want to know. And with all the most important topics covered by these great resources, we wanted to dive deeper into some of the lesser-known facts about diabetes in honor of National Diabetes Month. Here are five things you might not know about diabetes and its effects on the population: 

Diabetes is a Leading Cause of Blindness Worldwide

When most Americans think about diabetes, they probably think of it in terms of how it can affect someone’s diet or what medications they need to take. But the reality is that diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in America and around the world.

Adults with Diabetes Are Twice as Likely to Die from Heart Disease or Stroke

What might be most surprising about diabetes, however, is that it’s integrally linked with heart disease and stroke. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, adults with diabetes are twice as likely to die from these conditions as adults without diabetes.

The reason for this increased stroke and heart disease risk is because of the damage diabetes can do to your body. More specifically, the high levels of glucose in the blood of someone with diabetes can damage the blood vessels in their heart over time. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken by someone with diabetes to lower their chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

Millions of Americans Have Type 1 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is far and away the most common form of diabetes; however, it might surprise you to learn just how many people in America currently live with type 1 diabetes. 

Unlike type 2 diabetes, which is often caused by lifestyle choices, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that occurs when someone’s pancreas produces little or no insulin (a hormone needed to process sugar in the body). And, According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.25 million people in the United States are living with type 1 diabetes with an additional 40,000 people in our country will be diagnosed with it this year alone.

Many Early Symptoms of Diabetes Are Too Mild to Notice

Although doctors are generally able to point to things like weight, age, physical activity levels, race, cholesterol levels, etc., to determine a person’s type 2 diabetes risk, type 1 diabetes is much more difficult to predict. Moreover, most people who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes never show any symptoms of the condition until it causes further complications.

When symptoms do arise, they commonly include the following:

  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Excessive hunger
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that take a long time to heal
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in your hands and/or feet

Talk with your primary care provider to learn more about your level of risk for diabetes and to find out if the A1C test (i.e., the test that can identify prediabetes) is right for you.

Half of All Those with Diabetes Are Undiagnosed

With such mild early symptoms, it’s easy to see why there are so many cases of diabetes that go unnoticed. According to the International Diabetes Federation, 50% of people who have diabetes right now are living with it undiagnosed.

Early detection of prediabetes or diabetes is an important step in preventing life-altering or life-threatening complications, and this is especially true for type 1 diabetes, which can lead to disability or death if not detected early enough.

Resources for Adults with Diabetes in Southern Maryland

If you’re struggling with diabetes or simply want to learn more about how to better manage your condition, you can find help right here in Southern Maryland.

Our Center for Diabetes Education is led by a certified diabetes educator and provides the following:

  • Blood sugar meter training
  • Individual evaluation and diabetes instruction
  • Group education classes
  • Insulin instruction and injection training
  • Diabetes nutrition instruction and weight management
  • Diabetes self-management education

In addition, UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Diabetes & Endocrinology is a specialty practice located in Waldorf that offers comprehensive diabetes care and education to help you avoid complications. To learn more about either of these practices, please call (301) 870-4100.

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