November 9, 2016 | by Jay Fernandez
Research shows that consumer awareness of diabetes and its serious health consequences is at an all-time high. Yet in spite of increased knowledge, a growing number of Americans are being diagnosed with the complex metabolic disease.
An estimated 18 million (12 percent) of American adults have diabetes. And one-third of the adult population is believed to have undiagnosed prediabetes. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2050, experts predict one out of every three Americans will have diabetes.
Experts worry that people are not taking diabetes seriously enough, as greater awareness has merely normalized the affliction. “People know a little more about diabetes than they did 10 years ago,” said Raynald Samoa, M.D., assistant professor in City of Hope’s Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism. “But now that diabetes is becoming more and more common, what we’re seeing is that people minimize it, like it’s a cold: ‘Oh, well, everyone else has it.’”
Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable produce enough insulin to control blood sugars. This can be a result of the cells in the pancreas being destroyed or overworked for a long time (because the body does not use its insulin well.) In both cases, too much sugar is produced in the blood, causing a number of adverse health effects.
Currently, there is no cure for diabetes. But if it is caught early, healthier lifestyle choices can help prevent major complications.
There are three different types of diabetes
“What we’re seeing with (type 2) diabetes is that it’s a cumulative effect over time,” Samoa said. “There are many different hits that you get over time that keep adding to it. Let’s say you’re not being very mindful of what you’re eating and you start to gain weight. That can wreak havoc on how you deal with stress. That stress can manifest into not sleeping well, which will also worsen your body’s ability to use its insulin very well. And then when you’re not sleeping well and you’re tired all the time, you’re definitely not going to want to exercise very much. Over time, there’s a ripple effect.”
For decades, Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute at City of Hope has been working to advance diabetes detection and treatment.
Following are the basic symptoms of types 1 and 2, starting with those that are common to both:
Additional type 1 symptoms may include:
Additional type 2 symptoms, which tend to appear after glucose levels have been high for a long time, may include:
Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of complications. “If you are at higher risk for diabetes and experiencing any of the common symptoms, consult with your doctor or health care team to get checked out,” Samoa said.
For type 2 diabetes, prevention is key. “Stay at a healthy weight, eat well and be active,” Samoa added. “These steps can reduce your risk for many serious health problems resulting from diabetes.”
Learn more about our diabetes research and treatments.