First, let's start with the definition used by the US Centers for Disease Control:
"Type 1 diabetes was previously called insulin- dependent diabetes mellitus or juvenile-onset diabetes. Although disease onset can occur at any age, the peak age for diagnosis is in the mid-teens. Type 1 diabetes develops when the cells that produce the hormone insulin, known as the beta cells, in the pancreas are destroyed. This destruction is initiated or mediated by the body’s immune system and limits or completely eliminates the production and secretion of insulin, the hormone that is required to lower blood glucose levels. To survive, people with type 1 diabetes must have insulin delivered by injection or a pump. In adults, type 1 diabetes accounts for approximately 5% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes." There is no cure.
That's the definition. Now here are some pretty sobering numbers. In 2012 diabetes cost the American economy $176,000,000,000 in direct medical costs and a further $69,000,000,000 in lost productivity, according to the American Diabetes Association. It is the 7th leading cause of death in America - killing more people than breast and prostate cancer combined. Here are some other numbers (computed on an annual basis):
- 20,000,000 Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes,
- 8,100,000 Americans have diabetes but do not know it,
- 282,000 emergency room visits by people with diabetes because of low blood sugar,
- 234,051 people who died in 2010 had diabetes listed on their death certificate as a cause of death,
- 228,924 rely on dialysis or a kidney transplant because of diabetes related kidney disease,
- 175,000 emergency room visits by people with diabetes because of high blood sugar,
- 73,000 amputations are done because of diabetes,
- 49,677 people began treatment for kidney failure due to diabetes,
- 18,000 people are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
Having Type 1 Diabetes changes a person's life forever. It is a daily (if not hourly) battle. Get it right and you can have a full life. Screw it up and you will likely get very sick, if not die. But get this: the human body is an infinitely complex creation. People with diabetes mechanically replicate some of those incredibly complex activities. When they get it wrong (unless they knowingly do something they know they shouldn't) it isn't their fault. There's no going back. Learning how to deal with diabetes, to manage it better and understand new developments that will enable us to move forward despite the impediments it creates is why I've started this blog. As always, keep in mind my disclaimer and let me know what you think.