Last summer, I raised $200 and rode my bike 100 miles in the Tour De Cure, a cycling event held in Brigham City to benefit the American Diabetes Association (ADA). All I cared about at the time was setting my best time in a century (100 mile ride), but after an education on diabetes I’m proud to have supported the effort to find a cure for this difficult disease.
One statistic that surprised me is that more than eight percent of the American population has a form of diabetes. In 2007, it contributed to more than 231,404 deaths and that number is rising every year. An even more startling fact is that one in five people who have the disease don’t even know it and may be suffering from complications unknowingly.
The reason people may not know they have it is that diabetes isn’t what kills you, the complications from diabetes do. While there are many, the most common and most serious complications are:
- Increased risk of heart disease and stroke
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Leading cause of kidney failure
- Nervous system disease such as neuropathy
- Leading cause of blindness in adults age 20-74
The earlier a diagnosis is made, the less likely someone is to suffer from these complications. People who fit into risk categories of being overweight, are over age 40 or have family history of diabetes should be tested at least once every three years.
‘Diabetes’ is kind of a blanket term for at lease three types of the disease; type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. While the symptoms of diabetes are similar across the different types, the causes and risk factors are not.
Type 1 is where your body fails to produce insulin, which allows glucose to enter your cells and fuel them. This type accounts for 5-10 percent of diabetes diagnoses within the U.S. In the past type 1 diabetes was referred to as juvenile diabetes as it is genetic and most diagnoses are in children and young adults. While there is no cure, physicians offer various treatments as well as medications to help type 1 diabetics live a happy health life.
Type 2 is the most common type and represents around 90 percent of all cases. It has to do with insulin deficiency or resistance that your body develops rather than inherits. Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes are many, but have to do mainly with older age and being overweight. Some ethnicities are more likely to develop this type of the disease. Dr. Bentley says the good news is that most cases of type 2 diabetes can be cured with lifestyle changes.
I am so glad that I rode the Tour de Cure and got rid of my ignorance for one of the more serious diseases that Americans face. I’m also happy about my sub-four-hour time, but mostly the education!
Remember, one in five diabetics don’t even know they have it, so if you fit into one of the risk categories, call Ogden Internal Medicine & Urology at (801) 475-8600 and schedule an appointment with Dr. Bentley. She is passionate about helping people cope with this disease and providing treatment to improve quality of life for anyone affected or at risk for diabetes.