Welcome to Diabetes Awareness Month!
November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and we couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to support a cause so close to our hearts! With nearly 29 million Americans living with diabetes, for us, the importance of spreading awareness seems like a no-brainer. However, because so many people know diabetes exists, they may question the need for an entire month focused on drawing attention to this chronic condition.
But we’re here to tell you that this month remains vital. Even if you understand diabetes, a lot remains that people simply don’t get about it, and they have questions. Questions like: What causes it? Can it be cured? Who’s at risk? Further, awareness month is a time to support the individuals and their loved ones who struggle with diabetes every day. Not convinced? Here are six reasons why November is our favorite month!
1. Diabetes Affects More Than Just the People Who Have Been Diagnosed
Diabetes is complicated. And regardless of type, it has to be managed all day, every day, an unfortunate fact that frequently affects more than just the person suffering from the condition. When you have diabetes, nearly every part of your life is influenced by decisions about management; from what and when you eat, to how you manage stress and what puts you in a bad mood. When you love someone who has diabetes, the mood swings, the rules, and the fear are felt by you, too. If you’re an adult caring for a child with diabetes, your time, energy, and sleep belong to the condition. And all of that is without mentioning the worry and fear that come with watching someone you love struggle with something so dangerous each day.
2. Diabetes Is Getting More Expensive
In 2013, The American Diabetes Association released a report providing total costs of diabetes to have grown from $174 billion in 2007 to $245 billion in 2012. That’s a 41% increase! And while 72% of that $245 billion came from direct medical costs, the other 28% came from decreased productivity. What does that mean? Well, it means the study accounted for the toll diabetes takes on workplace productivity and work missed due to diabetes-related health problems, among other indicators.
The report further revealed that individuals with diabetes accrue an average of $13,700 in medical costs each year, which is believed to be nearly 3.2 times the average of individuals who do not have diabetes. An additional 2014 study determined that these costs are actually significantly higher over a lifetime despite the average life expectancy of individuals with diabetes to be potentially lower than those without. Understanding these rising costs could be an essential component of proving the need for more national prevention programs as well as yearly screenings.
3. Millions of People Are Living with Diabetes and Don’t Know It
Remember earlier when we mentioned that 29 million Americans are living with diabetes? Well, 8.1 million of those people are undiagnosed. That means 8.1 million Americans have this disease and aren’t managing it. Why is this such a serious issue? Because uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a host of complications, including neuropathy, kidney damage, cardiovascular disease, foot problems, retinopathy, and skin issues. The longer an individual’s blood sugars go uncontrolled, the more vulnerable to complications they become.
4. People Still Have an Alarming Number of Misconceptions About Diabetes
Not to belabor the point, but 29 million people is a lot of people. When you consider the number of people affected by diabetes (i.e. family and loved ones of individuals with the condition, medical personnel, etc.), it’s somewhat surprising that so many misconceptions remain. However, people with diabetes consistently encounter harmful, and often dangerous, stereotypes and myths about diabetes. Why are they dangerous? Studies suggest that people with diabetes are 3-4 times more likely to suffer from depression than the rest of the population. These misunderstandings easily lend themselves to the feelings of isolation, alienation, guilt, and anxiety that are also common to depression.
People continue to be confused about the differences between types, as well as the associated risk factors of each. This makes recognizing symptoms difficult and impedes opportunities for prevention. Raising awareness for diabetes is a great way to not only show the people afflicted with this condition that we want to understand, it is also one of the best ways we can increase awareness of what has become a national health crisis.
5. We Still Don’t Have a Cure
Speaking of misconceptions… many people are under the impression that a cure for diabetes exists. Insulin is not a cure. It’s a treatment. Losing weight is not always a solution. Medication is the equivalent of a bandaid. Think an artificial pancreas is the magic bullet? Think again. While we have made tremendous strides, we still don’t have a cure. I, for one, think we still have a long way to go.
6. Diabetes Is on the Rise in Children
According to The American Diabetes Association, approximately 208,000 youths (defined as individuals under 20) have been diagnosed with diabetes, which accounts for a nearly 33% increase in the past decade. The majority of that population is made up of children with type 1, with approximately 18,436 diagnoses. However, while type 2 was virtually unheard of in children as recently as 15 years ago, those numbers are on the rise.
This Diabetes Awareness Month, we want to focus on this epidemic. Being a kid should be fun! We believe our nation’s young people should be able to spend their time focusing on the best parts of life and learning how to become exemplary adults… later in life. A diabetes diagnosis forces these children to grow up far too soon, and robs them of the carefree lives they should be living.
While we hope to spend our November raising awareness for a condition that affects all people without discrimination, we hope to spend a little extra time honoring the young people– and their families– who are touched by diabetes every day. I sure hope you’ll join us!