Busy executives are bombarded daily with issues surrounding the high cost of healthcare. Part of the challenge is the soaring cost of being sick. In 1997, it was estimated the total annual cost of diabetes was $98 billion in the United States, which translates to a per capita cost of $10,071.00. Further, studies showed during this same year, 13.9 million days of hospital stays and 30.3 million physician office visits were related to diabetes.
If you are one of the more than 17 million people in the United States with diabetes, you may wonder why this is such an insidious health issue. Scientists aren’t sure why diabetes occurs as research identifies new factors annually – however, the two most common types of diabetes are known as type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is less common, as only about 10 percent of people suffer from this disease, with the remaining 90 percent having type 2 diabetes. But what’s worse is that it’s currently estimated that more than 12 million people in the United States are unaware they have diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes generally strikes men and may be genetic. Sometimes, a severe illness in childhood or early youth causes the cells in the pancreas to be attacked by the immune system causing an insulin deficiency and significant elevations in blood sugar.
Type 2 diabetes is referred to as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), or adult onset diabetes mellitus (AODM). In type 2 diabetes, either people produce insulin, but not enough or alternatively, the pancreas may produce higher than normal quantities of insulin. Ultimately, there is a lack of sensitivity to insulin by the cells of the body, particularly fat and muscle cells. Type 2 diabetes is considered to be caused by genetics; however, it can be controlled and in most cases delayed indefinitely with a healthy lifestyle.
Many signs of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are similar. Typical signs include feeling tired and run down, as well as noticing increased thirst and urination due to too much glucose in the blood. Losing weight without trying is a common sign of type 1 diabetes, however, weight loss for those with type 2 diabetes happens gradually as increasing insulin resistance occurs.
Over time, diabetes may lead to serious health issues such as blindness or kidney failure. Tingling in the hands and feet are other symptoms caused by resultant nerve damage. It can also accelerate the hardening and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), leading to strokes or coronary artery disease.
Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may prescribe medications called oral hypoglycemic drugs. For type 1, daily insulin injections are usually required. Managing or preventing type 2 diabetes doesn’t necessarily require medication. Keeping your weight down and lowering high blood pressure with exercise is important, and so is what, when and how much you eat. Avoid processed foods, refined carbs and sugary drinks – stick to fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Be cautious about eating too much protein as it may actually cause insulin resistance. Eating at regular intervals will keep your blood sugar levels more constant, and keeping your weight down with smaller portions is critical too.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, see your doctor at EHS Corporate Care as soon as possible for testing.
John Mamana, M.D.