Most people saw coverage of the volcanic activity happening in Hawaii this summer. Folks are mesmerized by the images of Kilauea, the volcano erupting on the Big Island. The suddenness of its devastating power has unleashed a geologic fury that quietly smoldered for many years. Nothing can stop that hot flowing lava — anything in its path is instantly incinerated. It’s Mother Nature at her most fierce.
Many are personally enduring an equally dangerous metabolic eruption. It’s called diabetes. Diabetes occurs when the simple sugar glucose, metabolized from the food we consume, is unable to enter our cells to generate energy. Elevated glucose levels accumulate in the bloodstream (hyperglycemia). Left untreated, diabetes can cause progressive damage to every organ in the body. Like a volcano, the problem can escape detection for many years if recommended screenings are not performed. Or like they always reminded us in medical school: “If you’re not looking for something, it is highly unlikely you will find it!”
Diabetes is usually not difficult to diagnose. Many folks with new-onset diabetes report a variety of symptoms that should justify a doctor’s visit. These include:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme hunger
- Vision changes
Common complications of chronic diabetes include heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, painful neuropathy, and overall poor circulation. Consider the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Diabetes Statistics Report 2017 (2015 data):
- There are 30.3 million U.S. adults and children with diabetes.
- Nearly 24% do not know they are diabetic.
- Age increases your risk of developing diabetes (25.2% of adults over 65 are diabetic).
- Blacks are 1.7 times more likely to develop diabetes and are more likely to experience severe complications.
- The death rate for blacks with diabetes is 27% higher than for whites.
Here’s another worrisome statistic from the CDC report unknown to most Americans: There are an additional 84 million adults with prediabetes, a precursor condition featuring abnormally high blood glucose levels but just below the diagnostic threshold for diabetes. Almost half of all adults over 65 have prediabetes. It is estimated that up to 50% of prediabetics will develop Type 2 diabetes over the next five to 10 years. Despite that grim prediction, aggressive medical, dietary, and lifestyle interventions can halt prediabetes and prevent the complex health problems that predictably follow.
Diabetes is a great example of how embracing Transamerica’s Wealth + Health philosophy may help you enjoy the best future possible. Observing simple positive lifestyle habits today can preserve good health later in life. Physical activity, healthy eating, and weight management can prevent diabetes from ever happening — or at least make it easier to live with diabetes.
Do you know the different subtypes of diabetes? Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes of pregnancy are the most common. Although each deals with abnormal sugar metabolism, in many ways they represent different diseases. We will explore Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in much greater detail in separate, upcoming blogs.
As of the time of this post, there (thankfully) have been no deaths attributed to Kilauea; the same cannot be said for diabetes. According to the CDC’s most recently published 2015 stats, diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of adult mortality. Diabetes can also introduce additional unwanted healthcare expenditures, something that becomes a real problem for people relying on limited retirement income. Average annual medical expenditures for individuals with diabetes are about $9,600. When retirement comes, wouldn’t you rather use that hard-earned money for something far more meaningful? Taking time now to learn more about the health and financial challenges posed by diabetes may help you rethink how you plan to spend those retirement years. Transamerica wants to help you pursue the chance to live long and live well. Perhaps, someday, even enjoying the opportunity to visit a real volcano.
Things to Consider:
- Get screened for diabetes regularly.
- Making simple, positive lifestyle habits today can prevent acquiring diabetes.
- Physical activity, healthy eating, and weight management can prevent diabetes from ever happening.
Doctor Bill Lloyd is a board-certified surgeon and pathologist. He joined Transamerica earlier this year as its first Health Director. Bill and his wife Mary (also a physician) live in Sacramento, California.
Transamerica does not provide you with personalized medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment (collectively “advice”) and you should not rely on any it for such. You should consult your own doctor for personalized advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment. NEVER DISREGARD PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ ON OR ACCESSED THROUGH THIS WEBSITE.