BUFFALO - Diabetes is the most rapidly growing chronic disease of our time. It has become an epidemic that affects almost one out of every 11 adult Erie County residents. The number of people in Erie County who have diabetes has more than doubled since 1994, and it is likely that number will double again by the year 2050.
More than 101,000 Erie County residents have been diagnosed with diabetes and an estimated 21,000 people currently have diabetes but are unaware of their status because diabetes' symptoms may be overlooked or misunderstood.
Diabetes is an extremely costly disease. The average yearly healthcare costs for a person with diabetes is $11,744 compared to $2,560 for a person without diabetes.
"It is imperative that individuals at risk of developing diabetes, or are in the prediabetes stage, take action to prevent developing type 2 diabetes," stated Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. "Prediabetes is when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes."
Dr. Burstein added, "Steps that can prevent developing type 2 diabetes include choosing healthy foods, such as opting for whole grains, and eating more fish, fruits and vegetables, as well as increasing physical activity to at least 30 minutes a day. Once an individual becomes diabetic, there is no way to reverse that diagnosis."
In type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, the body either cannot make enough insulin or cannot use its own insulin as well as it should. The cause of type 2 diabetes is largely unknown, but genetics and lifestyle clearly play roles. Type 2 diabetes has been strongly linked to obesity, a family history of diabetes, and inactivity.
"Not only is diabetes a serious disease with potentially devastating effects, but having diabetes along with other medical conditions greatly raises your risk for other conditions such as heart disease, stroke, depression, blindness and dental (periodontal) disease.", stated Dr. Burstein
"There is no known way to cure type 2 diabetes, but it can be controlled by keeping the level of sugar in the blood within a normal range."
The Erie County Department of Health strongly encourages all residents not diagnosed as diabetic to be aware of the risk factors for diabetes, and if at risk, to discuss their personal health plan to not become diabetic with their personal healthcare team.
Erie County residents with diabetes or prediabetes are reminded of the numerous local resources available to help individuals learn more about the disease in order to better control their condition. A sampling of the website-based resources available is listed below.
American Diabetes Association www.diabetes.org
Erie County Department of Health www.erie.gov/health/
New York State Department of Health at www.health.ny.gov/statistics/diseases/conditions/diabetes/index.htm