(BlackDoctor.org) The statistics are staggering. More than 18 million people–6 percent of the U.S. population–have diabetes. Of those, it is estimated that more than 5 million people don’t even know that they have the disease. And as if that’s not enough, the rate of diabetes among African-Americans has tripled in the last 30 years, with nearly 3 million African-Americans (11.4 percent of the total African-American population) current victims of the disease. Today, African-Americans are twice as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic Whites, and most likely to have complications from the disease.
FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW:
* Diabetes is the result of the body’s inability to produce or respond to insulin, a hormone that allows blood glucose (blood sugar) to enter the cells of the body and produce energy.
* There is an estimated 5 million undiagnosed people with diabetes in the United States.
* The disease kills nearly 200,000 Americans annually.
* African-Americans over 45, persons who are overweight and those who have a family history of the disease are most at risk.
* One in 4 African-American women over 55 and 1 in 4 African-American men between 65 and 74 are affected by diabetes.
* Medical authorities have not been able to fully explain why African-Americans are affected at a higher rate, although they believe factors such as heredity, diet and increased incidences of high blood pressure are contributors.
* Diabetic symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, increased hunger and irritability, unexplained weight loss or weight gain, tingling in fingers and/or toes, nausea, fatigue and vomiting.
* Diabetes is one of the most manageable chronic diseases. In many cases, diabetes can be controlled if you eat well-balanced meals on a regular basis, exercise regularly, take prescribed medication (if necessary) and test your blood sugar routinely.
* Unlike most other diseases, the person affected with diabetes does most of the care.
* Inhaled insulin is expected to be widely available to treat those who would prefer that method to injection.
* Diabetes is the seventh-leading killer in the United States and the No. 1 disease causing blindness, kidney ailments and non-traumatic amputations.
* Diabetes is the country’s second most-costly disease, behind mental disorders.
* Manufacturers have created glucose-monitoring systems that require a smaller blood sample, making living with diabetes more comfortable because there is less pain associated with the test.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ALREADY HAVE DIABETES:
The most important thing to remember about diabetes is that much of your health is in your hands. Under the best circumstances, you should be receiving your care from a team that includes an eye doctor, nurse and a dietitian. If you have ether compilations, your doctor may send you to other specialists, including a podiatrist.
YOUR DOCTOR OR TEAM SHOULD ROUTINELY:
* Ask what adjustments you’ve made to your diabetes care plan.
* Make sure you have an appropriate diet and exercise plan.
* Ask what problems you’ve had in following your plan.