34 million Americans already suffer from the disease. One in three people may be at risk. Why is diabetes such a big problem, and how can the disease be cured?
Diabetes develops when the body does not manage to break down sugars we absorb as part of our diet. In healthy Americans, the hormone insulin is responsible for this process. Sugars are broken down and absorbed by various organs that use them for energy.
With diabetes, sugar levels remain high in the patient’s bloodstream. Type 1 diabetes usually develops in children and younger adults, as the pancreas no longer produces the hormone insulin. Type 2 diabetes is more common and directly related to a person’s lifestyle. Patients generally develop this disease during their adult life. Whilst the pancreas still produces insulin, the organs no longer respond correctly to the hormone, which is known as insulin resistance.
One in ten Americans has been diagnosed with diabetes and is currently living with the disease. The annual healthcare costs associated with the illness exceed 300 billion dollars.
For employers, diabetes means dealing with unplanned sick days, and hospital visits as well as lost productivity. Employees’ families are also affected when someone has to adjust to living with diabetes.
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that every third person in the United States is currently prediabetic. That means their blood sugar levels are raised above normal values. However, they are not yet high enough to warrant a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
At this time, there is no cure for type 2 diabetes. Instead, patients learn to manage their condition through medication and serious lifestyle changes.
Whilst it is possible to live with diabetes for decades, this chronic illness affects many of the body’s organs over time. The effects are more serious if the illness is not well managed, leaving the patient’s blood sugar levels high for long amounts of time.
The complications are severe and include high blood pressure and heart disease. Badly managed diabetes is also responsible for kidney disease and non-traumatic amputations.
Curing the American diabetes epidemic is all about early recognition and prevention. Prediabetes is both a warning sign and an opportunity. Not only are one-third of Americans prediabetic, but the CDC estimates that 90% of those with raised blood sugar levels are unaware of the danger to their health.
However, prediabetes can be reversed. Reversing prediabetes means returning blood sugar levels to a normal range. By doing that, the onset of type 2 diabetes can not only be delayed but even be prevented completely.
Curing prediabetes starts by considering lifestyle factors that have a negative impact.
Obesity is one of the biggest risk factors when it comes to the development of diabetes. Managing a person’s existing weight, developing a strategy for weight loss, and preventing additional weight gain is crucial for prediabetics.
Being overweight is often linked to a lack of physical exercise. Increasing physical exercise has several positive effects on the body. Not only can it aid weight loss or weight management, but activity also helps manage high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar itself.
Whilst any exercise is beneficial, it is important to consider a patient’s starting point. Establishing an exercise routine that starts gently and gradually is more likely to develop into a habit over time.
Smoking is another major risk factor. According to CDC figures, smokers are between 30 and 40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Smokers with diabetes are at a much higher risk of developing serious diabetes complications.
Reversing or delaying the onset of diabetes is closely linked to a well-managed diet. Almost inevitably, this starts with reducing sugars or replacing them with suitable supplements. Limiting carbohydrate intake and increasing lean protein also help with the reversal of diabetes symptoms.
Diabetes is a chronic disease, and there is currently no cure as such. However, as patients manage to control their blood sugar levels and return them to normal values, the disease goes into remission.
Experts distinguish between three types of remission depending on how long blood sugar levels have been managed. Partial remission refers to maintaining blood sugar levels lower than those of someone with diabetes for at least one year without medication.
A patient achieves complete remission when their blood sugar levels are outside the range of diabetes or prediabetes for at least one year. Again, this is conditional on not using medication. Finally, doctors define prolonged remission as complete remission that has lasted for at least five years.
The key to preventing diabetes or achieving remission is to notice raised blood sugar levels early. Prediabetes can be reversed before it develops into chronic diabetes.
Prevention and early recognition are cost-effective and convenient. Platforms like Diabetes screening powered by TrueCare24™ helps employers keep their team healthy by making early recognition part of the work routine.
Employees not only learn about their blood sugar levels but also receive concrete, easy-to-implement guidance to help them establish a healthier lifestyle.
Improve Your Team’s Health with the Diabetes Screening Program!
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