African Americans and Diabetes

dnaDiabetes, medically known as diabetes mellitus, is actually a group of diseases known as metabolic diseases. The disease occurs in people who have high blood glucose levels, commonly known as high blood sugar. This may be because their naturally occurring insulin is not sufficient, or due to the person’s cells not reacting correctly to insulin, and sometimes it is a combination of reasons. When the subject’s blood sugar is high, they will generally experience bouts of frequent urination, known as polyuria. Their thirst will also increase, known as polydipsia, and they will become more hungry than usual, which is known as polyphagia.


Most Dramatically Affected by Diabetes


However, the disease appears to affect some races of people more than it does any other. The primary group of people who are most dramatically affected by diabetes are African Americans. A staggering 18.7 percent of people who are both African American and over the age of 20, currently suffer from diabetes. They are nearly two times as likely as their non-Hispanic white counterparts to develop the disease, which requires constant monitoring with blood-glucose meters and other diabetic accessories such as Aviva test strips and FreeStyle lancets.


Diagnosis & Treatment of Diabetes


Diagnosis and treatment of diabetes is crucial, as there are serious complications associated with it. Blindness or kidney disease can occur as the disease progresses. In some cases, amputations become necessary. If the diabetic is African American the risk for blindness from diabetic retinopathy goes up nearly 50 percent. The risk for developing kidney disease goes up a staggering five times, compared to those who are not African American. As for lower-limb amputations, the risk is twice as high.
Almost three million African Americans are affected by diabetes. However, 50 percent of those who are affected are not aware that they have diabetes. Insulin, a hormone, is essential for the body to convert sugar and other foods, into the energy required to sustain a healthy life. The medical community is not currently aware of the reason that diabetes exists, but they do know that genetics and certain circumstances, such as being overweight and not exercising, are risk factors for developing diabetes.


Type 1 Diabetes


There is more than one type of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is due to a lack of insulin production and mainly affects children and adults under the age of 20. Those affected require daily doses of insulin to be injected, or they will die. Type 2 diabetes, however, is the most common type. This is due to the body not creating enough insulin, or not being able to properly make use of the insulin that it creates. Generally, this affects the elderly in comparison to Type 1 diabetes. Gestational diabetes is another type. This affects children while they are still in their mother’s womb, but subsides when they are born. The mother, however, is at a greater risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. The other forms of diabetes are a direct result of surgery, drugs, poor nutrition, certain infections, specific generic syndromes, and other illnesses.


The risks of complications alone are sufficient for African Americans to be concerned. Diabetes is responsible for the deaths of a large number of African Americans every year. Regular exercise and healthy eating are key requirements for preventing diabetes. It is not understood as yet by the medical community why African Americans are targeted more by this disease. The American Diabetes Association considers diabetes to be nearly an epidemic for those in the African American communities. As a result, African American diabetics are counseled to pay particular attention to monitoring their disease, including making sure that they have sufficient Aviva test strips or FreeStyle lancets to keep their blood-glucose readings consistent. They are also counseled to take the best possible care of themselves with diet and exercise.


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