Diabetes Cases Double to 347 Million Worldwide
Nearly 10 percent of adults worldwide have diabetes, and new research suggests the rate of new cases is rising rapidly. Over the past three decades, the number of adults with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes worldwide has more than doubled, jumping from 153 million in 1980 to 347 million today. (Type 1 diabetes means the body produces too little or no insulin, while type 2 is linked to excess weight or inactivity.) About 70 percent of the increase is due to an aging population—since diabetes typically hits in middle age—while the remaining 30 percent is explained by the obesity epidemic, according to a study published Monday in the Lancet. Perplexingly, the incidence rate is rising twice as fast in the United States as it is in Western Europe, though researchers don't yet understand why. "This is likely to be one of the defining features of global health in the coming decades," study author Majid Ezzati, an epidemiologist and biostatistician at Imperial College London, told The Washington Post. "There's simply the magnitude of the problem. And then there's the fact that unlike high blood pressure and high cholesterol, we don't really have good treatments for diabetes."
6 Common Myths and Misconceptions About Diabetes
There are many mistaken beliefs about diabetes. Sue McLaughlin, former president of healthcare and education at the American Diabetes Association, offered her opinion of what she says are the six most common myths and misconceptions about diabetes, based on an ADA survey of more than 2,000 Americans released in 2009.
1. Diabetes is not that serious. In fact, diabetes causes more deaths than breast cancer and HIV/AIDS combined, McLaughlin says. Still, people with type 2 diabetes—the most common form of the disease—may go a long while, even years, before being diagnosed because they may downplay their symptoms or write them off to other causes. So if you are making frequent trips to the bathroom at night; experience extreme thirst, overwhelming fatigue, or blurry vision; or notice that you keep getting infections, ask your doctor to test you for diabetes. An early diagnosis can help ward off complications. [Read more: 6 Common Myths and Misconceptions About Diabetes.]
Are You Diabetic? 6 Tips That Will Help Keep You Out of the Hospital
Diabetes-related complications are among the most common reasons for hospitalization, according to a recent study in the Journal of Women's Health. Researchers found that in 2006, for example, diabetics hospitalized because of congestive heart failure accounted for more than 1 in every 16 discharges; diabetics with pneumonia made up another 1 in 26. Moreover, the overall rate of hospital admissions for diabetics is rising—up more than 65 percent between 1993 and 2006. And it will climb even faster if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recent estimate that as many as 1 in 3 Americans, up from 1 in 10 now, will have type 1 or type 2 diabetes by 2050 holds up. For those who already have the disease, though, there is hope, U.S. News's Kurtis Hiatt reported in October 2010. Some of these tips may help keep you healthy—and out of the hospital:
1. Do a daily foot check. "Keeping good watch over your feet is an important aspect of good diabetes care," says Joyce Lee, a coauthor of the Women's Health study and assistant professor in the department of pediatrics and communicable diseases at the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers. A high blood glucose level can cause nerve damage in the feet, and you might not feel a cut, scrape, or blister that could be the start of a deep skin infection. Data from the study indicates that young men are especially prone to such ulcerations. Applying lotion regularly and drinking lots of water can keep skin on the feet—and the rest of the body—from becoming dry and cracked, advises the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. [Read more: Are You Diabetic? 6 Tips That Will Help Keep You Out of the Hospital.]
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