As one of the most prevalent chronic illnesses in the United States, diabetes continues to grow among the population each year. An estimated 25.8 million people of all ages have some form of diabetes in America, or 8.3 percent of the whole country. The majority of cases are type 2 diabetes, and found in adults 20 and older, equally acquired by men and women. Diabetes can lead to various additional health problems, including glaucoma, cataracts, neuropathy (nerve damage), hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and a slew of other conditions. As such, some of the most frequently occurring illnesses in America are often spurred by type 2 diabetes, as well as obesity.
Until the Affordable Care Act came along, it was also increasingly difficult to insure a diabetic, but in several months anyone with the condition will be able to purchase coverage the same as a healthy individual. The condition take continuous monitoring and management.
Type 1 diabetes typically occurs in children, and was once referred to as juvenile diabetes. In this condition, the pancreas creates barely any insulin, or none at all, because the body’s immune system is killing the beta cells which produce the hormone insulin in the pancreas. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks other cells int he body, as well, but primarily focuses on cells creating insulin, therefore ridding the body completely of the hormone.
Genetics may be a factor in type 1 diabetes, and though it is most often present in children or adolescents, adults have also developed the disease. It is characterized by dehydration, and fatigue, as the cells cannot are unable to receive energy normally. The onset of symptoms is usually rapid.
Type 2 diabetes is present when the pancreas either doesn’t create sufficient insulin or the insulin is not used correctly by the body’s cells. This is also referred to as insulin resistance, and as a result, glucose is unable to get absorbed by cells and builds up in the blood. Cells cannot function properly, and gradually, other parts of the body experience damage due to the impact. Hardening of the arteries, dehydration, and diabetic coma can occur with the effects of type 2 diabetes. While anyone is susceptible to type 2 diabetes, certain individuals are at a greater risk for the condition, including people who:
- Are overweight or obese
- Are inactive
- Are older than 45
- Are African American, Latino, Asian American, Native American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
- Have high blood pressure
- Have prediabetes
- Are genetically predisposed to type 2 diabetes
- Have had gestational diabetes
- Have high triglycerides levels or low HDL cholesterol
Individuals with type 1 diabetes have common symptoms associated with insufficient energy. Because the cells are not receiving any sugar, and blood sugar levels are increasing, many people experience dehydration and frequent urination. Additionally, people may feel extreme hunger, and lose weight unintentionally as sugar is being lost in the urine, thus leading to a loss of calories for energy. Fatigue, blurred vision, and increased thirst are also associated with this disease.
Sharing some symptoms with type 1 diabetes, type 2 may also be present with no symptoms at all. They differ in severity in each patient, and depending on how well or poorly managed the condition is, symptoms may include increased thirst, increased hunger (notably after eating), blurred vision, urinating often, and weakness. Dry mouth, nausea and occasional vomiting, numbness or tingling in the feet or hands, recurring infections of the skin, urinary tract, or vagina, and sores that do not heal at a normal rate.
Treatment for either type of diabetes is ongoing, as you may already know by monitoring your blood glucose levels, taking medications, and checking on various body systems to ensure they are not being damaged. Adjusting your diet is a very important piece of the puzzle, though insulin injections and other medications may also be prescribed.
For type 1 diabetics, a normal treatment plan involves taking insulin, keeping track of your blood sugar, getting frequent exercise and maintaining a normal weight, and eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet. Normalizing blood sugar is the main goal of treatment, and finding the right kind of insulin is also key. the more common types are rapid-acting insulin, long-acting insulin, and intermediate. Doctors can prescribe one type or a mixture to properly moderate your insulin levels throughout the day.
Type 2 diabetes involves a similar method of treatment, including blood glucose monitoring, physical activity, eating healthy, and potentially, though not always, medication or insulin. Many people find that lifestyle changes can help them get their type 2 diabetes under control. However, the disease requires constant attention, as well as a reliable doctor and medical supports to help you manage it. Reducing stress, unhealthy foods, alcohol intake, and medications that impact your blood sugar level may help regulate the symptoms and prevent your condition from worsening. You can find many ways to treat type 2 diabetes on your own in our Home Remedies section.
How Health Insurance Can Help
As you can imagine, making frequent trips to the doctor’s office can get unpleasantly pricey without coverage. Though individual health insurance may be out of the question for individuals who already have severe, medication-controlled diabetes, less serious cases may still be able to get insured. Find out more about coverage options and insurability with different degrees of the condition here.
From getting diagnosed to covering the cost of insulin and office visits, diabetics need a consistent doctor, and team of medical professionals to rely on for maintenance and emergencies alike. Diagnosis usually consists of checking for abnormalities in the blood through one or more blood tests, such as a random fasting blood test, 2-hour glucose tolerance test, or a hemoglobin A1C. If you don’t already have insurance, these tests are fairly inexpensive out-of-pocket, but in addition to the office visit, you’ll have at least a $160 bill for diagnosis.
One of the upsides of having an individual plan, however, is that if you were not at risk for diabetes when you applied, your plan cannot be canceled if you become sick after you’ve been accepted. Therefore, you may still be able to find a private health plan and get treated for diabetes. Look for plans in your area by getting a quote, or visit your state for free or inexpensive coverage through government plans.
1. American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Statistics.
2. WebMD. Type 2 Diabetes.
3. WebMD. Type 1 Diabetes.
4. WebMD. Type 1 Diabetes: Treatment and Drugs.
5. WebMD. Type 2 Diabetes: Treatment and Drugs.
6. Healthcare Blue Book. Pricing for Insulin, Fasting.