Diabetes – Staggering Statistics and Screening Success
Nearly 10 percent of Americans have diabetes, making it the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. And every year, that number increases by 1.5 million diagnosed cases, according to the American Diabetes Association.
“To understand how to treat it, we must first understand what it is and how it affects your body,” explains Dr. Maher Mourad, M.D., an internal medicine physician with Silver Cross Medical Group at Silver Cross Hospital. “Your body naturally changes the foods you eat into sugar or glucose, which triggers the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts as a doorway that opens your cells, allowing that glucose to enter, which your body then uses as energy. When you have diabetes, your body fails to do this process on its own.”
Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes are the most common forms of this disease, and chances are you know someone with one of these conditions.
Type 1 diabetes is also commonly referred to as “juvenile diabetes,” meaning that it has early onset, striking its victims in childhood. Only 5 percent of the diabetic population has this form.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form and begins when the body does not use insulin properly, a condition known as insulin resistance. The pancreas naturally makes insulin, but begins to overproduce insulin when it realizes that it isn’t being used properly. Over time, the pancreas can’t keep up with the demand for insulin, and outside intervention is needed in the form of medication, insulin pumps, and major lifestyle changes.
Finally, gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy. “While women are pregnant, their bodies are constantly changing, not only physically as the months pass, but internally as well,” he added. “The influx of pregnancy hormones can cause insulin resistance, which can, in turn, complicate an otherwise healthy pregnancy.”
And while insulin itself doesn’t cross the placenta into the baby, glucose can and does. The baby’s body then uses this glucose by storing it as “fat,” causing babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes to have higher birth weights.
“Current diabetes research shows there are over 8 million undiagnosed cases of diabetes each year and nearly 10 times that number of people who are living with prediabetes and don’t even know it,” Dr. Mourad said. “Diabetes left untreated can cause major complications to your health, even death,” “It is so easy and relatively painless to be screened for diabetes; it can be as simple as a finger stick or a blood draw.” Dr. Mourad explains the importance of lowering your risk factors, and how they can significantly impact your chances of getting this disease. “Some of the risk factors include hypertension, being overweight, and smoking. The sooner you address these risk factors, the lower your risk becomes.”
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Mourad, call 815-727-4292.
The Diabetes Center of Excellence at Silver Cross Hospital began in 1996 with a commitment to promote health and well-being and act as a resource center for individuals with diabetes and their family members. To this day, a team of specially trained nurses and dieticians work closely with patients and their physicians to develop a personalized program, teaching participants essential information and skills for managing diabetes.
If you or a loved one needs assistance with their diabetes management or would like to schedule an appointment, please call 815-300-5990.