Diabetes is a health problem of crisis proportions. Estimates are that 20.8 million Americans suffer from the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association. And even if you or someone in your family does not have diabetes, it still affects you in your wallet. The direct medical costs of treating the disease were estimated to be $92 billion in 2002. The indirect costs: disability, work loss, premature mortality were estimated at $40 billion.
The ADA reports that diabetes is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and is a major contributing factor in heart disease, hypertensio, blindness, stroke, kidney disease, amputations and dental problems.
Diabetes is largely preventable. Diet and weight management, good nutrition and exercise are key to successful prevention efforts.
And early detection and intervention can mitigate its effects even after diagnosis. According to the ADA:
•Detecting and treating diabetic eye disease with laser therapy can reduce the development of severe vision loss by an estimated 50% to 60%.
•Detecting and treating early diabetic kidney disease by lowering blood pressure can reduce the decline in kidney function by 30% to 70%.
•Comprehensive foot care programs can reduce amputation rates by 45% to 85%.
Podiatrists are particularly concerned with diabetes foot care.
Throughout November, Diabetes Awareness Month, the American Podiatric Medical Association has been conducting a public awareness and prevention campaign called Knock Your Socks Off!
The objective of the campaign is to alert those at risk for diabetes to the symptoms of the disease, which frequently show up early in one’s feet. The campaign encourages people to remove their shoes and socks when visiting their doctors and to ask their physicians to conduct thorough foot examinations, which may lead to early diagnosis of diabetes.
The APMA urges people in high risk groups to learn the warning signs.
Diabetes manifests itself in many ways, including muscle weakness in the legs, pain in the feet, loss of feeling and numbness in the hands and feet.
Diabetes is treatable, but early diagnosis is critical.

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