Today, we’re going to learn a little more about diabetes.
Did you know … according to the American Diabetes Association, 8.3% of the population—25.8 million children and adults in the United States—have diabetes?*
Did you know … there are an additional 7 million people in the United States currently undiagnosed with diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, causing high blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone your body uses to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy needed for daily life.
The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although genetics and environmental factors, such as obesity and lack of exercise, appear to play roles.
There are two different types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes since it is usually diagnosed in children or young adults, and type 2 diabetes, typically diagnosed in adults.
Type 1: This type happens when your pancreas stops making insulin. Without insulin, sugar can’t get into your cells and stays in the blood stream, elevating blood sugar levels. People often seek medical help because they are seriously ill from sudden symptoms of high blood sugar.
This type of diabetes can’t be prevented. Some of the symptoms include: frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, and extreme fatigue and irritability.
Type 2: Millions of Americans have been diagnosed with this disease and many more are unaware they are at a high risk. In this type, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy.
This type of diabetes can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating sensibly, and exercising regularly. Sometimes people with this type don’t exhibit any symptoms. Other symptoms include any of the type 1 symptoms, frequent infections, blurred vision, tingling/numbness in the hands or feet, and recurring skin, gum or bladder infections.
If you suffer from diabetes or are concerned you might have diabetes, there are a few screenings and tests you can get at the doctor:
- Cholesterol Screening/LDL Levels: Know your LDL (cholesterol) levels and keep them under control. Your risk of heart disease becomes even greater as a diabetic.
- Blood Sugar Control: Improper management of your blood glucose (sugar) levels can damage your heart, your eyes, and your kidneys, and cause many other health complications.
- Dilated Eye Exam: Diabetic retinopathy, a common complication of diabetes, causes 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness each year.
- Kidney Screening/Disease Monitoring: Nephropathy (kidney disease or damage) is a major cause of sickness and death in persons with diabetes. Help prevent kidney disease by controlling your blood sugar and be sure to get annual nephropathy screenings.
Some of these screenings are covered under your preventive screenings in your health plan. Review your plan benefits or talk to a member service representative to find out what your plan covers. If you have a WPS plan, you can call our Member Services at 1-800-223-6882, Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., CST.
For additional information, check out our WPS Health Center, Diabetes page: https://www.healthwise.net/wpsic/Content/StdDocument.aspx?DOCHWID=center1010
You can also check out our Diabetes information sheet.
*American Diabetes Association, www.diabetes.org.