More and more people are getting diabetes - millions know nothing about it
More and more people in Germany are diagnosed with diabetes. Millions of them have long been unaware of their illness. The German social security funds are burdened by diabetes as high as by the consequential costs of smoking. The fight against diabetes is the focus of this year's World Health Day.
The number of diabetics could double
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 350 million people worldwide are currently affected by diabetes. The number of patients could double in the next 20 years. Around 60 million people in the WHO European Region suffer from diabetes. The prevalence of the disease is reported to be increasing in all age groups, so that in some Member States ten to 15 percent of the population is already affected. "The increasing number of cases is mainly due to the increasing frequency of overweight and obesity as well as to unhealthy nutrition, lack of exercise and socio-economic disadvantage", write the experts on the occasion of the World Health Day 2016 on April 7th, which deals with the prevention and treatment of diabetes .
Burden on health systems
It also says: "Diabetes is a burden not only for people living with the disease, but also for the economies and health systems of the Member States." According to the German Diabetes Association (DDG), diabetes costs the German social security funds 35 a year Billion euro. This sum is comparable to the consequential costs of smoking. "It is imperative that high-risk patients, for example with obesity or the corresponding hereditary system, are specifically examined for diabetes," DDG Vice President Dirk Müller-Wieland told the German Press Agency. According to the DDG, up to two million people in Germany are still unaware of their illness.
Diabetes can lead to serious complications
Because, according to medical experts, untreated diabetes can lead to serious long-term health problems such as kidney damage, hardening of the arteries, blindness and the need for leg amputations. In addition, diabetes also increases the risk of potentially fatal cardiovascular diseases (e.g. heart attack or stroke). That is why health experts recommend paying attention to classic symptoms such as strong thirst, frequent urge to urinate, tiredness, poor performance and poorly healing wounds. Unfortunately, diabetes is often only recognized when patients already have complications. That makes the treatment expensive, it says in the dpa report. According to the DDG, the costs would normally be around 500 euros per year. In the case of complications, however, they increased four to eight times.
Clear risk factors
While unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and obesity are considered clear risk factors in type 2 diabetes, they play no role in type 1 diabetes. Rather, this is due to misguided immune system reactions, in which the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed. This results in an absolute insulin deficiency and the body can no longer metabolize blood sugar. With type 1, insulin injections are the standard therapy, with type 2, changes in lifestyle are usually worked on first. Losing weight can often normalize insulin levels again. Vaccination to protect against diabetes may be available in the future, researchers reported last year. (ad)