The Pandemic We Have All Been Ignoring
Updated: Jul 28
Written by Inbar Tropen, Senior Marketing Analyst
Many of us are feeling that our world has been turned upside down in the past months, as we live through the ripples caused by an airborne virus. However, while the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc, there is another pandemic going on right under our noses, and it is being largely ignored. This pandemic, unlike COVID-19, is not one that comes in waves - rather, it is unrelenting. Unlike COVID, this pandemic is not transmitted from person to person - yet, the number of people it affects are rising quickly. The pandemic that I am referring to is type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body is unable to either produce enough insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar) or is unable to productively use the insulin which it produces. As opposed to type 1 diabetes, which is typically discovered at a young age and may be caused by an autoimmune disorder, type 2 diabetes is most often found in adults who experience frequent peaks in blood sugar, essentially leading to insulin resistance, where the body doesn’t make or use insulin well. Type 2 diabetes is by far the more common of the two, accounting for approximately 90% of all cases.
Diabetes is among the only chronic non-contagious diseases which is increasing in both developed and developing countries, along with overweightness and obesity which are a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. According to the International Diabetes Federation, there are approximately 463 million adults with diabetes in the world, and in American, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “more than 34 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes.”
There is some good news, however. Prediabetes, the state in which blood sugar is higher than it should be, but not yet in the range of diabetes, is easily determined through blood tests and is reversible. Control of glucose levels through lifestyle changes such as improved nutrition and regular exercise to maintain a healthy body weight is the main way to prevent prediabetes from becoming type 2 diabetes, reverse prediabetes, or prevent it altogether.
Those who have already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes will need to manage their symptoms through continued healthy eating and exercise, often alongside medication. Diabetes also increases the risk for complications such as heart disease or damage to the nerves, kidneys, or eyes. Therefore, it is highly important that patients with diabetes regularly follow through on the screenings that are recommended such as an annual retinal exam to check for diabetic retinopathy, a common, yet treatable complication.
Today, there are companies which are working to increase the accessibility of these screenings and reduce the burden on diabetics seeking care. AEYE Health is an example of such a company, having developed an automated diagnostic retinal screening solution that is prepared to be implemented at the primary point of care (i.e. primary care and endocrinology clinics). If this solution is not currently offered at your clinic, visit us at www.aeyehealth.com to learn more and contact us.