What Is Diabetes?

If you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, you are not alone.  Approximately 18.2 million Americans-about 6.3% of the population-have this disease. About 1.3 million people are diagnosed with diabetes each year. Of all cases of diabetes, 90 to 95 percent are type 2 diabetes. And more than one-third of all people with type 2 diabetes are unaware they even have the disease. Because of the nature of type 2 diabetes, it is possible to have mild symptoms (what you feel) or signs (what the doctor can detect) of type 2 diabetes for years before diabetes is detected. In contrast, few cases of type 1 diabetes go undetected for long.  The symptoms of type 1 diabetes are severe enough that the person goes to the doctor for help. Who Has Diabetes? About 18.2 million Americans have diabetes. This is more than 6 percent of the people in the country. An estimated 900,000 to 1.8 million people have type 1 diabetes. It is hard to get an exact count of the number of people with diabetes because we have no nationwide diabetes registry. Type 1 diabetes is more common in Caucasians than in African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and American Indians. About 16 to 17 million people have type 2 diabetes. Nearly 6 million people are undiagnosed. (And 16 million more people have pre-diabetes-a condition in which blood glucose is higher than normal but not at diagnostic levels.) Type 2 diabetes is common in older people. More than 18 percent of Americans over the age of 60 have it. It is more common in some ethnic groups than others.  In those age 45 to 74,  approximately 25 percent of Mexican Americans and Puerto Rican Americans have type 2 diabetes, more than 13 percent of African Americans have type 2 diabetes, and about 16 percent of Cuban Americans have type 2 diabetes. It is even more common in American Indians. In some tribes, almost half of adults age 30 to 64 have type 2 diabetes. About 135,000 women develop gestational diabetes each year.  Of these,  about 40 percent get type 2 diabetes within 15 years. —Martha M. Funnell, MS, RN, CDE Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center University of Michigan Medical School Ann Arbor, Michigan Robert M. Anderson, EdD Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center University of Michigan Medical School Ann Arbor, Michigan Shereen Arent, JD National Director of Legal Advocacy American Diabetes Association American Diabetes Association Complete Guide to Diabetes

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