By Dr. Brian McDonough

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Sometimes a cold, hard look at a condition like diabetes gives us the best information. Certainly in the United States it has to be seen as a major health problem.

Twelve-point-nine percent of adults in the United States twenty and over have diabetes, of which 40 percent are undiagnosed. Equally concerning is that about a quarter of us are on our way, based on highly predictive blood tests.

But even when people have diabetes, many refuse or stop treatment. Some of the leading reasons include the fact that many people do not want to use medications or are concerned about side-effects.

As doctors, we often fail to provide clear instructions about medication use.

Another problem is that if the medications we give to patients work well they can lower the blood sugar. This is called hypoglycemia. A study in patients with type 2 diabetes showed increased fear of hypoglycemia. Once people experience these symptoms they can become quite frightened.

Why worry about controlling blood sugar? Because years of uncontrolled blood sugar can affect the kidneys, nervous system and the heart.

Reported By Dr. Brian McDonough, KYW Newsradio Medical Editor

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