Diabetes: The Growing American Epidemic
The Diabetes Epidemic that is underway in America can be prevented by YOU
“I fight a battle against my body every day. One that doesn’t end, with no breaks, and no finish line. I keep fighting when I’m tired, weak, or when I’ve had enough. I fight for my health in more ways than others understand. Until there is a cure”
– The Diabetic Journey –
Since the beginning of my life, I’ve always heard about the disease of Diabetes and the horrible effects it’s had on my family. As I’ve grown up, Diabetes, in general, has made my life a lot harder. Now you must be wondering what could these effects be? Well, it’s a bit complicated, because my dad has it. My dad was first diagnosed with Diabetes when he was 23, and doctors immediately realized the problem when they began to notice his weight loss and constant vomiting. For the first few years it was rough since he wasn’t getting used to symptoms of the disease and needed to readjust (not to mention he had just gotten married to my mom), but as time went by the symptoms began to go away. Coincidentally, the same time I was born, and for the next ten years or so, he didn’t show any symptoms. My dad was able to keep everything under control and kept a healthy diet. And after turning ten, his symptoms have been on and off. In some months, he’ll be depressed and won’t do anything, while in others he gets cheerful. Now as we catch up to modern day, my father’s Diabetes problem has been going really out of hand. He’s been severely depressed and always seems to be under stress. These drastic effects of Diabetes have on my father has also shaped me in a way as I’ve learned how to quickly accommodate to his emotions and try my best to think that he’s not always feeling pain. It’s really painful since my dad sometimes can’t do things that every normal dad can because his Diabetes depletes his energy and make
Coincidentally, the same time I was born, and for the next twelve years or so, he didn’t show any symptoms. My dad was able to keep everything under control and kept a healthy diet. And after turning ten, his symptoms have been on and off. In one day, he’ll be depressed and won’t do anything, while in another he’s quite active cheerful.
Now as we catch up to modern day, my father’s Diabetes problem has been going really out of hand. He’s been severely depressed and always seems to be under stress. These drastic effects that Diabetes has created is most likely due to his older age and exercising is much harder. My father’s Diabetes has also shaped me in a way as I’ve learned how to quickly accommodate to his emotions and try to ease his pain. It’s really painful since my dad sometimes can’t do things that every normal dad can do and to be totally truthful, every symptom that I’ve mentioned previously apply to my dad and that’s awful. What hasn’t helped also is that almost every person in my relative family either is on the verge of being Diabetic or has Diabetes II. This clearly shows that Diabetes runs deep in my family and hopefully, even though I’m in good shape and play various sports, don’t have a higher chance of receiving Diabetes.
What is Diabetes II?
Diabetes Mellitus (Type II) is a disease in which the body creates high amounts of sugar either because cells aren’t responding to the insulin correctly or not enough insulin is being created. Diabetes Type II is one of the most common chronic diseases in America and it affects people of all ages. However, it predominantly affects older people between the ages of 25 and higher.
Why is Diabetes such a pain in everyday life?
Diabetes Type II has many symptoms associated that affect everyday life. Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Excessive thirst,
- Frequent Urination,
- Blurred Vision,
Both excessive thirst and frequent urination go hand to hand since the excessive amount of sugar in cells leads to more water and other fluids to be taken from the bloodstream to deal with this imbalance of concentration. This in result would make a person who experiences this disease drink more water, and urinate even more. Furthermore, patients experiencing Diabetes Type II also have an increased appetite since the inadequate amount of insulin in their body doesn’t allow for sugar stored to become into energy. Since the patient is no longer able to produce as much energy, they have the feeling to eat and continue to do so until full. However, this hunger can also show a possibly lead to weight loss because the body has to use fats and proteins to get energy from. This would in result lead to the body losing mass.
Other symptoms of Type II Diabetes include fatigue and decreased eye vision. Due to fluids being taken out of the bloodstream to deal with the sugar around the body, water and other liquids may be taken out of the lenses of the eyes. This can potentially harm the eye, as these liquids are used to fix the concentration of sugar in other cells. This makes it harder for patients to focus and see. Finally, fatigue is another symptom caused because of the low energy levels in the body. The reason being that since there is not enough energy for the body to support itself, it makes the body tire out faster and weakens it.
So, what causes Diabetes?
As briefly mentioned before, the causes of Diabetes Type II isn’t that enough insulin is being created in the body, but it’s not being properly used to convert glucose into energy. This is the basic sense of what happens with someone who has Type II Diabetes However, diabetes can affect other people in a combination of different ways through genetics, obesity (lifestyle), and abnormal glucose production by the liver.
First off, Type 2 diabetes can be hereditary as there is a higher chance that a person whose parents had diabetes, will receive the disease. However, researchers are not sure how the disease spreads genetically since they do not know what genes produce insulin. Studies have shown that variants of the TCF7L2 gene increase susceptibility to type 2 diabetes. For people who inherit two copies of the variants, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is about 80 percent higher than for those who do not carry the gene variant.
“Couldn’t stop it, can’t cure it, and I did not cause it.”
– Cecilia C. –
Furthermore, obesity also affects diabetes because it creates an imbalance between calorie intake and physical activity that leads to the body becoming insulin resistance. As described before, insulin resistance is when the body isn’t able to effectively convert glucose into sugar. In fact, obesity and type 2 diabetes patients have a strange correlation between having high blood pressure. This leads to other diseases being caused like kidney disease, blindness, and etc. In addition, eating foods with high fats will only make the situation worse they make the body even bigger and lead to hormones and substances being created that negatively affect blood vessels by harming them. Essentially, both obesity and unhealthy lifestyles accentuate the risk of diabetes and make people have a higher chance to get Diabetes Type II since they affect insulin resistance.
How many Americans are affected each year?
According to the American Diabetes Association, there were 29.1 million people in the United States who had Diabetes in 2012. Although there is no data on specifically how many people have Type II Diabetes, both types have harmful effects on the body. Furthermore, the worst part of the statistic about the number of people who have Diabetes in the United States is that it was from 2012. It’s been estimated that 1.4 millions of Americans are diagnosed and this is an astonishing rate for such a disease to increase by every year. In fact, in an estimate from the CDC in 2010, approximately 26 million people had Diabetes, in which 3 more million people were diagnosed with Diabetes after two more years.
These numbers are horrifying to look at as it shows that in 2012, 9.3% of the American population has Diabetes and that 1 in 4 people did not know. Not only that, but 86 million people have prediabetes, and are at a high risk of getting Diabetes because of their high blood sugar. Furthermore, Diabetes has also had a significant impact on the American economy, in which Diabetes has resulted with $245 billion in medical costs, lost work, and wages just in the year 2012.
As Ann Albright, Ph.D., R.D., director of CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation puts it, ” These new numbers are alarming and underscore the need for an increased focus on reducing the burden of diabetes in our country, Diabetes is costly in both human and economic terms. It’s urgent that we take swift action to effectively treat and prevent this serious disease.”
Is there a cure for Diabetes and is there a treatment?
Type II Diabetes is a very serious disease as it slowly harms the body and may eventually lead to death. There is no cure for Diabetes, but it can be treated. However, for the most part, the options of treating few ways to handle diabetes is very limited. One strategy of treating the disease that controls sugar levels in the blood like Glipizide and Glimepiride. Not to mention, some patients can be prescribed to take different types of insulin to control their glucose levels as the ones in their body may not be working as well as the ones they were prescribed.
Overall, these medications cannot be effective without proper exercise and proper nutrition. The reason being that exercise helps people to control their blood sugar, and this especially important for people with Type II Diabetes because exercising allows the glucose to be consumed by muscles. In fact, exercise has shown to decrease insulin resistance and in return, it uses glucose more effectively. The benefits of exercise are just wonderful in terms of treating Diabetes because it keeps the heart strong and maintains good cholesterol.
How can YOU and others prevent getting Diabetes?
There is a chance for everyone who doesn’t have Diabetes to have a lesser chance of getting the disease as they age. However, the bad part is that, according to the CDC, 1 in 3 American adults aren’t aware they have Prediabetes. Fortunately enough, this can be prevented and the biggest factor to prevent the disease is exercise! Exercise is just simply proven that it lowers your risk of getting Diabetes and helps people control their blood sugar. Not only that, but keeping a healthy diet by eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will allow you be able to maintain a lifestyle that is low in fat and calories. This would also help with obesity since it would lower the numbers of people in the United States with the disease.
Here’s a video about preventing Diabetes and I suggest that everyone should start from 0:53 when they’re watching the video:
It’s important for our generation of Americans to prevent Diabetes from increasing in the United States and we should take on the first steps by changing ourselves. Although, other factors like the junk food industry may be bringing us down, we all have to remember that millions of Americans are fighting this battle every day.
I also have a survey to take from everyone that has read my Catalyst Conference! I ask that everyone take the survey to see how many of us have seen the direct effects of Diabetes! I actually took a similar survey at school and discovered that out of 100 people, 42 had an immediate or relative member who had Diabetes. Furthermore, I recorded from the same 100 people if they knew someone who had Diabetes beside their family and 78 reported, yes. With your help, we’ll hopefully be able to generate even a larger poll.
Here it is: