The American Diabetes Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that there are 20.8 million people in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with the disabling condition of diabetes. However, 54 million people age 21 or older have disease or pre-diabetes and don’t know it.

Diabetes has become the leading cause of death in America and each year there are approximately 800,000 new cases diagnosed. One of every three children has a risk of developing diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition in which either there is not enough insulin produced by the body, or the body does not properly use the insulin, which is a hormone necessary for the conversion of sugar, starches and other food into energy.

There is not a known cause of diabetes and a cure has yet to be discovered. The disease can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, limb amputation, and nerve damage. There is also an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

According to Sharon Ferguson, RN, Diabetic Educator at Mahaska Health Partnership, diabetes will often go undiagnosed due to the symptoms seeming harmless. The symptoms including excessive thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, unexplained weight loss, irritability, increased fatigue, and blurry vision.

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