Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects as many as 16 million Americans. For reasons that are not yet clear, diabetes is increasing in our population to the point where public health authorities are calling diabetes an "epidemic" that requires urgent attention.
Of the 16 million people with diabetes, about one-third of them don't even know they have it. Every year, 800,000 additional cases are diagnosed. It affects over six percent of the population now, and it is projected that nearly nine percent of all Americans will have diabetes by the year 2025. Health care costs for diabetes are estimated to be nearly $100 billion per year in the US.
People with diabetes are unable to use the glucose in their food for energy. The glucose accumulates in the bloodstream, where it can damage the heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves. Left untreated, diabetes can develop devastating complications. It is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.
However, the good news is that with proper care, people with diabetes can lead normal, satisfying lives. Much of this care is "self-managed," meaning that if you have this condition, you must take day-to-day responsibility for your own care.
Most important to managing the disease is to know as much about it as you can. The first thing to know is what kind of diabetes you have. There are three types: