Research Paper on Diabetes

Research Paper on Diabetes

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Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Assessing the Burden and Seeking Solutions

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is one of the most common and dangerous chronic diseases worldwide. Currently, it affects more than 422 million people, and this number is expected to increase to 552 million by 2030 if no effective measures are taken (World Health Organization, 2016). Nearly 80% of people with T2DM live in low- and middle-income countries; however, the prevalence of this disease in developed nations like the USA has been growing exponentially. According to the American Diabetes Association (2016), in 2012, 29.1 million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes, which is more than 9% of the total population. Moreover, millions of people have prediabetes – a condition that is likely to progress to type 2 diabetes without proper prevention measures (American Diabetes Association, 2016). In this report, the researcher explores the burden of diabetes in the USA and analyses the most effective prevention and management measures that can stop the spread of this disease.

Type 2 diabetes is undoubtedly one of the most costly chronic diseases that imposes a substantial burden on American healthcare providers. The recent data shows that in 2013, the total cost of T2DM in the USA was $245 billion, including more than $69 billion in reduced productivity (American Diabetes Association, 2013). People diagnosed with diabetes spend 2.3 times more on healthcare services compared to the average citizen. Rough estimates indicate that they spend from $54,700 to $130,800 on diabetes supplies, inpatient care, physician visits, medication, etc. Additionally, diabetes affects the society in general because people diagnosed with T2DM have limited productive capacity and have to take more days off because of diabetes-related complications. In general, type 2 diabetes affects patients themselves, their families, healthcare providers, employers, community services, and so on, so one can confidently claim that this disease is a national problem.

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder caused by the decreased insulin action (Jones and Rotella, 2012). More specifically, it occurs when the body develops insulin resistance while the pancreas fails to produce the sufficient amounts of insulin to maintain a normal glucose level. As explained by Nair and Peate (2015), T2DM develops only when the present insulin secretion is not enough to compensate for insulin resistance. This type of diabetes is strongly associated with several risk factors including obesity, the lack of physical activity, consumption of fatty food, ongoing stress, and genetic predisposition (Wu, et al., 2014). Other risk factors include alcohol intake, high blood pressure, and age. Low socioeconomic status may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes because people from the disadvantaged communities have limited access to primary care and cannot afford to buy healthy food (Hasson et al., 2013). Thus, some of the risk factors cannot be controlled, but others can be reduced by keeping the healthy lifestyle and diet.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, T2DM is a preventable disease, which means that patient education plays a central role in reducing its burden on the society. It is critically important to encourage individuals with diabetes to take control of their lifestyles by keeping a healthy diet, monitoring blood sugar levels, undergoing periodic medical checks, and engaging in physical activities (Coppola, et al., 2016; Shrivastava, Shrivastava and Ramasamy, 2013). Community and patient education, media campaigns, and governmental policies aimed at making healthy food more available can all contribute to increased awareness and empower people to reduce their risks. Research shows that education can be effective in addressing the problem because the growing awareness that better food choices and more exercise can prevent the disease has already helped to slow down its spread in the United States (Healy, 2014).

Furthermore, evidence shows that many individuals diagnosed with T2DM fail to manage the disease properly. Thus, according to the statistics, only 77% of patients take insulin, and only 85% take other prescribed medications. Approximately 45% can monitor their glucose levels regularly, and even fewer percentage of people can change their lifestyle patterns as recommended (American Association of Diabetes Educators, 2017). As a result, these people put themselves at risk for developing life-threatening complications that require much time, efforts, and money to treat.

Given this evidence, one may suggest that education of people already diagnosed with T2DM is a central part of disease management. Its main aim is to prevent diabetes-related complications, such as hypoglycemia, hypertension, dyslipidemia, stroke, kidney disease, skin conditions, nerve damage, and many others (Tracey, 2016). Although education cannot cure the disease, individuals with T2DM cannot regulate their glucose levels without knowing the basic principles of nutrition, physical activity, insulin injections, and other related aspects. A person needs to be aware how and when to take medications, how to assess and maintain normal glucose levels, what food to choose, and so on. This information provides confidence required to manage the disease on the day-to-day level and allows reducing healthcare costs.

To conclude, education is undoubtedly an essential part of type 2 diabetes prevention and management. First, it allows patients with prediabetes to adjust their habits and reduce their risks for developing T2DM. Second, it empowers individuals already diagnosed with T2DM to manage it successfully and live fuller and healthier lives. Third, education can reduce the immense burden of diabetes on the American society by decreasing direct and indirect costs and preventing diabetes-related complications and deaths. Clearly, education is the most cost-effective and logical solution to addressing the problem of diabetes and making Americans more conscious and responsible in relation to their lifestyle choices and behaviors.