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WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America
WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America

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Diabetes

Description: Diabetes mellitus, or high blood sugar, results from a deficiency of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. In type 1, the body does not produce any insulin; in type 2 (accounting for 90 to 95 percent of diabetes cases) the body is unable to make enough, or properly use, insulin. In those cases, the body can't make use of sugar, its main fuel. Untreated, diabetes can lead to blindness, vascular disease, kidney disease, neuropathy, and other problems.

Symptoms: Frequent infections, blurred vision, cuts or bruises that are slow to heal, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, recurring skin, gum or bladder infections; type 2 symptoms also include frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue, and irritability.

Number of Americans diagnosed: 11 million people.

Long-term problems/treatments: The biggest problem for people with diabetes is heart and blood vessel disease, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure. It also causes poor circulation in the legs and feet. High blood sugar can also cause the blood vessels in the eyes to bleed, leading to blindness, of which diabetes is the main cause in adults in the United States. Lastly, too much blood sugar is hard on the kidneys. After a number of years, high blood sugar can cause kidney failure.
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American Diabetes Association

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