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Diabetes: The Economic And Social Implications

1357 words - 5 pages

"...For fluids do not remain in the body, but use the body only as a channel through which they may flow out. Life lasts only for a time, but not very long. For they urinate with pain and painful is the emaciation. For no essential part of the drink is absorbed by the body while great masses of the flesh are liquefied into urine."1 This quote comes from the ancient Greek physician, Aretaeus, who recognized the destructive illness of diabetes. Aretaeus and other ancient physicians lacked understanding of this killer and were powerless to treat it, but over 2,000 years later there are well-recognized and documented symptoms, causes, and treatments for diabetes mellitus. There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys beta cells in the pancreas. The body, in turn, produces little to no insulin, and the sufferer must take insulin to live. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is producing insulin, but the body cannot effectively utilize it, a condition called insulin resistance. Over time, insulin production decreases, glucose builds up in the blood, and the body cannot use its main source of energy. 5 to 10 percent of diabetes in the United States is attributed to type 1. Scientist don't know specifically what causes the immune system to attack the beta cells, but autoimmune, environmental, genetic, and viral factors are involved.2 Type 2 is responsible for other 90 to 95 percent of diabetics in America. Unlike type 1, type 2 diabetes can be directly correlated to "older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, previous history of gestational diabetes, physical inactivity, and certain ethnicities."2 This form of diabetes is interesting and disheartening in its implications and scope. The majority of Americans who have diabetes have the preventable form, and this is what this paper will examine. This has been an enormous problem in the United States. Type 2 is easily preventable or delayed with daily physical activity, a healthy diet, and modest weight loss, yet "diabetes will affect one in three people born in 2000 in the United States" and its "prevalence…is likely to increase."2 The lifestyles of Americans have and continue to decrease their overall health and quality of life. There are many blatant and underlying factors to the decreasing health of people in the United States, with the rise of diabetes being a manifestation of this growing trend. This paper will examine the economic cost we bear because of this and the social causes of this disease.When examining the direct and indirect cost of diabetes, we must consider medical care, hospitalizations, treatment supplies, disability payments, time lost from work, and premature death. But it doesn't end there. Complications due to diabetes include diabetic ketoacidosis, end-stage renal disease, amputation, hypertension, diabetic retinopathy, heart disease, vascular disease, and infections; it affects virtually every organ and body...

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