November is American Diabetes Month

by Howard Gerber on November 15, 2010

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The American Diabetes Association has a number of tools and resources to help individuals, bloggers, companies, and communities, help spread awareness about diabetes. There are currently more than 24 million people in America living with diabetes, and another 54 million who are at risk for developing the disease. Many forms of the disease are entirely preventable and the hope is that those who do not have to suffer from the disease, and the many detrimental complications the disease can cause, will become more aware of the symptoms and types of diabetes and work to avoid developing the disease.

Types of Diabetes

There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in young adults and children, and in the past was known as juvenile diabetes. With this type of diabetes, the body is unable to produce insulin – a hormone necessary to convert starches, sugar, and other foods into energy. This is the rarest form of diabetes and accounts for only about 10% of the cases in the United States. Insulin therapy is usually quite successful with this type of diabetes, and can allow children and adults to manage their disease and live full lives. Type 2 diabetes is the much more common form of the disease, and may go undiagnosed for years because many people do not have noticeable symptoms. This type of diabetes is caused by the body not producing adequate levels of insulin or by the body ignoring the insulin that is being produced. Glucose will then build up within the blood and can lead to complications.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Type 1

  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Increased thirst for no apparent reason
  • Excessive hunger
  • Weight loss for no apparent reason
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Unusual irritability

Type 2

  • Any or all of the symptoms from Type 1
  • High frequency of infections
  • Blurring of vision
  • Bruises and cuts that heal slowly
  • Numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
  • Repeated skin, bladder, or gum infections
  • A person with this type of diabetes may exhibit no symptoms.

Treatment

Type 1

  • Monitoring blood sugar levels with a glucose meter
  • CGM, or continuous glucose monitoring
  • Insulin as needed
  • Healthy diet
  • Physical activity
  • Pancreas transplant – a somewhat controversial procedure whose side effects may be more dangerous than the disease
  • Islet cell transplantation – an experimental therapy which provides new cells to produce insulin from a donor pancreas

Type 2

  • Monitoring blood sugar levels
  • Healthy diet
  • Physical activity
  • Weight loss
  • Medication or insulin therapy may be indicated

Do you have diabetes or do you have patients suffering from the disease? What treatment options do you feel are most effective?

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