By Kristen Taufer
In the United States, diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the last 10 years, diabetes rates in the U.S. increased 49 percent, but in Utah the increase was a lot higher — 81 percent, said Stephanie Benjamin, an epidemiologist at the CDC.
“It”s so high because too many people are sedentary. They”re not very active,” said Gayle Burns, area associate for the American Diabetes Association in Utah.
In the year 2000, 6.7 percent of Utahns were living with diabetes, Benjamin said.
This ranks Utah as the state with the eighth highest rate of diabetes in the nation, Burns said.
The number of people in Utah with diabetes is about the same as the number of people in other states; the problem is,in Utah the rates are increasing dramatically each year, she said.
Through a statistical analysis of genetics and risk factors, it has been found that half of the Utahns with diabetes do not even know they have the disease and go undiagnosed, Burns said.
“Many people are not even aware of the symptoms. They never guessed they have diabetes,” she said.
Symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss, extreme hunger, sudden vision changes, tingling or numbness in hands or feet, feeling tired much of the time, dry skin and slow healing sores, Burns said.
There are two types of diabetes. The most common form is Type 2, which is when the body does not produce enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it produces. Type 1 diabetes is when the body cannot even produce insulin and accounts for about 8 percent of all people with diabetes, Burns said.
Treatment for diabetes include diet control, exercise, glucose testing, and in some cases, oral medication or insulin shots, said Brenda Bodily, information specialist at the Utah Diabetes Control Program.
Some people with diabetes don”t realize it takes more than just measuring glucose levels to keep themselves healthy, Bodily said.
“Not enough people ask their doctor what their levels mean and what they need to do,” Bodily said.
In order to guard against heart disease, people with diabetes need to take a comprehensive approach to their disease, Burns said.
People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart problems than those without diabetes. Seventy-five percent of those people with the disease will die from their heart problems, Burns said.
November is National Diabetes Month and the focus this year is being placed on people taking control of their diabetes, Burns said.
Remembering the ABCs of diabetes is a simple way of keeping the disease in check. People with diabetes need to be careful and watch their A1C test, which measures their glucose levels, their blood pressure, and their cholesterol levels, Burns said.
“The need to have everything checked regularly is for everyone, but it needs to be a focus for people with diabetes,” she said.