A closer look at diabetes

November 16, 2013 6:30 pm  • 

Heart disease, blindness, kidney disease and nerve disorders are conditions that may increase in people who have diabetes. Sixty percent of non-traumatic amputations occur in people with diabetes.

Despite recent advances in medicine, diabetes is on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 25.8 million people in the United States (370 million worldwide) with diabetes. Seven million of these people in the country are walking around not knowing they are diabetic. A concerning figure is that there are 79 million people who are considered “pre-diabetic.”

With the annual medical costs related to diabetes being around $245 billion in this country, it is no surprise that there is great concern regarding the addition of new diabetic patients to the medical pool. The rate of juvenile Type I diabetes is also on the rise.

Controversy exists as to the cause, but foods, such as gluten, and of course obesity are contributors to the process. The global obesity epidemic, similar to diabetes, shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. According to Johns Hopkins University research, if this trend continues, all American adults will be overweight by the year 2048.

Type II diabetes is the most common form of diabetes (90 percent of diabetics). In Type II diabetes, the body either does not produce enough insulin or cannot use the insulin properly — this is known as insulin resistance. Risk factors for Type II diabetes include: obesity, age, pregnancy, genetics and ethnicity. From the ethnicity standpoint: 12.6 percent of non-Hispanic blacks, 11.8 percent of Hispanics, 7.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites, 15 percent of Native Americans, and 8.4 percent of Asian-Americans have diabetes.

Early detection and treatment of diabetes is the key to living a healthy life with diabetes. As a foot doctor, I have seen too many times a patient finding out they are diabetic after they are seen in the emergency department for a raging foot infection. Signs are certainly present before something limb-threatening occurs.

Here of some symptoms that may be present as diabetes develops: excessive thirst, excessive urination, blurred vision, feely overly tired and burning in the feet or hands.

Simple blood testing can be performed to determine if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Fasting blood glucose, glucose tolerance tests and the hemoglobin A1C tests are useful to see where you stand. These tests can be routinely performed and reviewed by your primary care physician. If you are found to be pre-diabetic, your physician can discuss lifestyle changes to help prevent you from progressing further, including starting an exercise program, promote weight loss, eating proper foods and proper amounts of food.

They are many fantastic resources available to help our diabetic patients. Most local hospitals and some physician specialists have diabetic support groups, nutritional counselors and diabetic educators. Education is the key to success.

You know what you know, but don’t know what you don’t know. Seek help/advice, get educated and get and stay healthy.

Dr. Seth J. Steber is a foot and ankle surgeon with Carlisle Foot & Ankle Specialists specializing in simple and complex foot and ankle reconstructive surgery, lower extremity nerve pain and chronic wounds. He is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and the Association of Extremity Nerve Surgeons. For more information, visit www.MSIFootandAnkle.com.

Steber is one of five Carlisle Regional Medical Center physicians contributing to the weekly Health Talk column, to appear in The Sentinel every Sunday.

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