The costs of diabetes, in the United States, are overwhelming. In 2007, total costs of (diagnosed) diabetes care in the United States, was $174 billion dollars. This number represents both direct medical costs, as well as indirect costs for such things as work loss, disability, and premature mortality). It has been estimated that the average medical expenditures for persons with diabetes is 2.3 times higher than that of a non-diabetic person. Factoring in the additional costs of care for undiagnosed diabetes, pre-diabetes, and gestational diabetes (diabetes occurring during a pregnancy), the annual costs of caring for diabetes in the United States is estimated to be nearly $218 billion dollars.
Diabetes is an equal opportunity” disease, affecting both men and women, of all ages from infants to elders, and also affects all nationalities. In the United States, diabetes is ranked as the 7th leading cause of death. If current patterns continue, it was estimated that one in three American children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes. Thus, it is critical for the health and welfare of our nation that we begin to understand the disease of diabetes, its implications, and what we can do to lower our risk of the disease and its associated complications.
Complications of poorly managed, uncontrolled diabetes are numerous. Early diagnosis and proper treatment are essential to reduce, if not prevent, the onset of dire consequences. An overview of diabetic related complications is as follows:
- Uncontrolled diabetes is the leading cause of adult blindness, end stage renal disease, and non-traumatic lower limb amputations
- It causes an increased risk in cardiovascular complications, including heart disease, stroke and hypertension, due to an increase in atherosclerosis
- It may cause peripheral neuropathy, or damage to nerve endings. This may lead to numbness, tingling and poorly healing wounds of the lower extremities, especially the feet.
- It may cause injury to kidneys, eventually leading to renal failure and the need for hemodialysis
- It may cause injury to small eye vessels, leading to vision changes and eventual blindness
Knowledge is power. For more information on diabetes, from prevention, to identification and treatment plans, visit your local chapter of the American Diabetes Association.