Over 8 million may have diabetes

Published 7:00 am Thursday, November 19, 2015

According to the American Diabetes Association, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3 percent of the entire population, had diabetes. Of those cases, 21 million were diagnosed, leaving 8.1 million undiagnosed, the association says.

November is national diabetes month and Jeff Buntin, a nurse practitioner who specializes in adult medicine at Highland Community Hospital, says diabetes is a large issue facing the residents of Pearl River County, citing the American Diabetes Association.

Diabetes was the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States in 2010, based on the 69, 071 death certificates in which diabetes was listed as the cause of death.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

One of the most alarming statistics Buntin said was the sheer amout of undiagnosed cases of diabetes.

“A lot of times you can have very subtle symptoms and not recognize the disease. It’s one of the major causes of blindness in the United States. A lot of times the damage is already done when people find out,”Buntin said.

He explained that many people go to their eye doctor because of poor eyesight and then subsequently find out the issue plaguing them is diabetes.

There are two kinds of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.

Buntin said Type 1 usually affects people approximately 30 years and younger and this form of diabetes is treated with insulin shots. This is because those affected by Type 1 have a pancreas that doesn’t produce enough insulin. Type 2 is usually found in older adults and can be treated with pills. Type 2 is also more associated with lifestyle choices.

“One thing that is accepted is, if someone is overweight  and makes unhealthy food choices and doesn’t  get exercise, those are strong contributors to possibly getting diabetes and usually this lifestyle contributes towards type 2. The vast majority of diabetics are type 2,” Buntin said.

Buntin recommends people get screened for diabetes because it is important to know whether or not a patient has diabetes as quickly as possible.