Education is Key in Preventing and Managing this Life-Altering Disease
More than eight percent of Americans have some form of diabetes. Of these
25.8 million individuals, seven million are undiagnosed and an additional
79 million people are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
With these staggering numbers, it is important to both understand and recognize
the different types of diabetes diseases and learn how to prevent future
diagnoses, if possible.
According to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, more than 15,000 children
and 15,000 adults – approximately 80 people per day – are
diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) in the U.S. each year. Once diagnosed,
the autoimmune disease forces dependence on injected or pumped insulin for life.
On a biological level, the pancreas in those with type 1 diabetes no longer
produces insulin. Children and adults alike must monitor their blood glucose
levels closely, sometimes multiple times each day, to ensure proper levels
are maintained. A diagnosis also means patients need to examine how each
meal will affect blood glucose levels.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is when the body does not produce enough
insulin or the body’s cells ignore the insulin. As glucose builds
up in the blood instead of being converted into fuel for cells, cells
become starved for energy or the heightened glucose levels may affect
the eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart, according to the American Diabetes
There are many risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including a family history
of diabetes, obesity, sedentary lifestyle or diabetes during pregnancy.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and being of African
American, Pacific Island, Hispanic or Native American descent increases
the risk for developing the life-altering disease. Hoag Memorial Hospital
Presbyterian’s Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center has additional
information on the diagnosis and prognosis of type 2 diabetes, as well
as type 1 and gestational diabetes.
Women can also develop gestational diabetes while pregnant, which brings
additional risks to their infant during childbirth and an increased chance
for developing type 2 diabetes later in child- or adulthood.
Early detection of the disease can help prevent developing complications
from diabetes over the long-term. However, many of the symptoms are dismissed
early on because each may seem harmless at first.These symptoms include
(for all three types, unless otherwise indicated):
- Frequent urination
- Unusual thirst
- Extreme hunger
- Unusual weight loss
- Extreme fatigue and irritability
- Frequent infections, especially recurring skin, gum or bladder infections
(type 2 only)
- Blurred vision (type 2 only)
- Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal (type 2 only)
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and/or feet (type 2 only)
If you, a friend or loved one has one or more of these symptoms, make an
appointment with your physician immediately. For additional information,
consider attending one of Hoag’s Diabetes Self-Management Education
program for help managing nutrition, insulin and other important disease factors.
Written by James Lindberg, M.D., Hoag Executive Health Chief of Services