Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Diabetes isn't a death sentence

There was an article on USA Today the other day that I really appreciated.  Not only did it specify that it was talking about type 1 diabetes, it also was attempting to dispel one of the fear-inducing myths surrounding diabetes: that as a type 1 diabetic, you are going to die young.

Life expectancy improves for type 1 diabetics

See?  Isn't that beautiful?  "Type 1" clearly specified, even in the title!

The article looks at life expectancies for type 1 diabetics in 2 groups: diagnosed between 1950 and 1964, and diagnosed between 1965 and 1980.  Life expectancy for the first group was 53.4 years, versus 68.8 years for the second group.  Compare that to an average of 72.4 years for the general population.

Of course, the article doesn't address people diagnosed after 1980, probably because none of us are old enough to start dying yet.  (Ha, ha.)  But I can only imagine that our life expectancy has gone up even more, and might even be about equal to the life expectancy of everyone else.  In fact, because having type 1 diabetes makes you so health-conscious, I wouldn't be surprised if our life expectancy is even longer than the general population — we certainly pay more attention to diet and exercise than the average person does!

This just goes to show how much of a difference modern medicine can make.  With modern insulins and glucose meters, pumps, and continuous glucose monitors, we are given such precise control over our blood sugars that we can actually mimic the insulin production of a normal body fairly closely.  And if you keep your blood sugars within normal range most of the time, then theoretically you shouldn't have any of the complication of diabetes that come from having high blood sugar for extended periods of time.  It may take a lot of work, but it's essentially like not having diabetes at all!

No comments: