Health Officials: Diabetes Epidemic Worsening
A "staggering" 366 million people worldwide now suffer from diabetes—and one person dies from the disease every seven seconds. The International Diabetes Federation, which unveiled the data on Tuesday, warned that the global epidemic is on track to continue worsening. The group urged officials who will focus on chronic diseases at a United Nations meeting next week to develop specific preventive measures and to invest in more research. "The clock is ticking for the world's leaders," Jean Claude Mbanya, the federation's president, said in a statement to the press. "We expect action ... that will halt diabetes' relentlessly upwards trajectory." The latest figures estimate that health systems spend $465 billion annually fighting type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The spike in the number of cases worldwide is likely explained by population growth, aging populations, and a rise in inactivity and obesity rates, The Washington Post reports.
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.
Myth 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.
Myth 2: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes. "Certainly, anybody will benefit from eating less sugar ... because it is not a nutrient-dense ingredient," McLaughlin says. That said, simply eating too much sugar does not cause diabetes. [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 will have type 1 or type 2 diabetes by 2050 holds up; currently 1 in 10 Americans is diabetic. For those who already have the disease, though, there is hope, U.S. News reported in 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.]