woman sits at desk over blue-green background; 10 things you might not know about diabetes

Diabetes affects nearly 30 million Americans and is considered by many healthcare professionals to be a national epidemic. In addition to all the cases of type 2 diabetes, more than 84 million people are suspected to have prediabetes. Diabetes affects a large portion of the American population, but it’s still sometimes misunderstood. Here are 10 things you may not know about diabetes.

  1. About 90 percent of people with prediabetes don’t know they have it. If you have any risk factors of diabetes, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and see your doctor regularly to check your blood sugar and A1c.
  2. Bariatric surgery could reverse type 2 diabetes. A certain type of gastric bypass surgery called Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) has been proven to alleviate the symptoms of type 2 diabetes and sometimes send it into remission.
  3. There are more than two types of diabetes. In fact, scientists claim there could be as many as five types of diabetes, with Alzheimer’s being considered type 3 diabetes due to the way glucose controls brain function.
  4. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when tiny blood vessels in the eye are damaged by high blood sugar. At least one-third of people with diabetes will experience some degree of diabetic retinopathy in their lifetime.
  5. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented. If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, that isn’t a guarantee that you will develop type 2 diabetes. If you maintain a healthy diet, lose a moderate amount of weight, and exercise 150 minutes per week, you could stave off type 2 diabetes.
  6. Diabetes is expensive. Diabetes costed Americans an estimated $327 billion in 2017, which was a 26 percent increase from 2012.
  7. Where you live could determine if you develop diabetes. People who live in the southeast region of the United States (also referred to as the “diabetes belt”) are more likely to develop diabetes due to the region’s high rates of poverty and food deserts.
  8. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop heart disease. When blood sugar builds up in the arteries surrounding the heart, it results in atherosclerosis. This is a hardening of the artery walls where the arteries also get clogged up with triglycerides, cholesterol, and white blood cells.
  9. Type 1 diabetes isn’t caused by diet. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease caused by genetics and sometimes a virus that attacks the pancreas and makes it create too little insulin to regulate blood sugar.
  10. Your diet isn’t the only thing that affects your diabetes. Diabetes can be influenced by many factors, including weather, stress, alcohol, sleep, exercise, illness, menstruation, pregnancy, steroids, other medications, dehydration, pain, and more.
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Kayla Pearce
Kayla Pearce is a Content Developer at Diabetic Nation in Memphis, TN. She has backgrounds in professional and creative writing and over a decade of experience in research and editing. She is deeply interested in literature, poetry, cats, and dessert.