Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Disease affects more than blood sugar

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Nov. 6, 2013 at 5:06 a.m.

America has made some great strides in the medical industry. Thanks to the innovation and inspiration of generations of doctors and researchers, some diseases such as polio, smallpox and measles have all but disappeared.

Humans have mapped our genetic code, found ways to transplant organs and bone marrow and even given people a fighting chance against cancer. But there are still many more advances to be made.

November is National Diabetes Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is the name for a group of diseases that result from defects in the body's ability to produce and/or use insulin and is characterized by high blood glucose levels. There are three categories: Type 1 diabetes - or juvenile diabetes - is typically diagnosed during childhood, type 2 diabetes is the most common form, and gestational diabetes can emerge during a pregnancy.

Diabetes is a serious disease that is widespread in America. According to the ADA, about 26 million people, both children and adults, in the nation have diabetes, and another 79 million have prediabetes, which is a risk factor for developing type 2. Diabetes is more than just a sugar imbalance in the blood stream. The effects of this disease can lead to serious complications in a person's eyes, skin, feet, hearing, mental health, blood pressure and more. Long-term effects of diabetes can even include such drastic things as heart attacks, strokes and leg amputations.

We encourage all of our readers to know the risks and warning signs of diabetes and know how to properly care for this condition. Diabetes is often linked to genetics, so a family member who is diagnosed with the disease should be a warning to others in the family. The ADA lists other warning signs as urinating often, feeling very hungry or thirsty, extreme fatigue, blurry vision and cuts or bruises that do not heal quickly. In addition, weight loss is a warning sign for those who might have type 1 diabetes and tingling, pain or numbness in the hands or feet for those with type 2.

We encourage our readers to take action to prevent the spread of diabetes and to be aware of any warning signs. Diabetes is a disease that cannot be ignored. It must be faced head-on to be properly controlled. In a nation with expanding waistlines, diabetes is becoming more and more common. We need to take a stand now to stop this plague.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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