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Diabetes: Just the facts

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Diabetes refers to a group of diseases that have a high level of blood glucose due to some defect in insulin production and/or utilization of insulin. Untreated/uncontrolled diabetes is linked with serious complications. Diabetes is currently the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.

Approximately 25.8 million people had confirmed diabetes, as of 2011. In addition, an estimated 79 million adults had pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is a condition where the blood glucose level is elevated but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. The normal fasting blood sugar level should be below 100mg/dl. Diabetes is diagnosed when the fasting blood sugar level is above 126mg/dl.

Type 1 diabetes, also referred to as juvenile onset diabetes or insulin dependent diabetes, refers to people who do not produce insulin; thus, they have to take insulin injections on a daily basis. This type of diabetes accounts for nearly 5-10 percent of all diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes (noninsulin dependent diabetes or adult onset diabetes) refers to people who still produce some insulin. They may be treated with diet and lifestyle changes, as well as oral and injectable medications, including insulin. This type of diabetes accounts for nearly 90-95 percent of all diabetes.

Total health care costs associated with diabetes, runs approximately $174 billion annually. This amount includes direct medical costs (such as hospitalization, medical care, treatment and supplies) and indirect costs (including disability payments, lost work time, and premature deaths).

Diabetes is a treatable condition. People with diabetes can live long, productive lives when they control the disease with healthy lifestyle changes, medication compliance, and early treatment. For more information on diabetes, risk factors, diet and more, check out your local chapter of the American Diabetes Association.

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