Diabetes is a national epidemic that is spreading from year to year. In the US, 14 percent of the adult population suffer from diabetes. That's 30 million Americans. While 10 percent know they have it, 4 percent are unaware. If left untreated or poorly treated, diabetes shortens and shortens the quality of life. November is the month of diabetes education. Know the signs and symptoms of diabetes. Get a free screening (see below).
Despite everything known about diabetes, it remains confusing for many people. Most of us have heard that there are different types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is the result of the loss of the ability to produce the hormone insulin. It is caused by a slow destruction of the insulin-producing tissue in the pancreas by the person's immune system. People with type 1 diabetes can develop it at any age. About half of the type 1 diabetes cases are diagnosed after the age of 30 years. For type 1, insulin therapy by injection is required.
Signs and symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include frequent thirst and urination, as well as unexplained weight loss. These can occur quickly or slowly over weeks to months. A person can detect in their breath a sweet smell of substances called ketones. If not diagnosed early, it can cause nausea and vomiting, dramatic weight loss, severe dehydration and coma.
Type 1 diabetes was formerly referred to as juvenile diabetes, but this terminology is outdated and inaccurate. Unfortunately, many adult healthcare providers still do not recognize that adults can develop any form of diabetes, not just type 2. Children can also develop both types.
In contrast, type 2 diabetes is much more common. There are nearly ten times as many people with this form of diabetes. Signs and symptoms include fatigue, high blood pressure, depression, low libido, sleep disorders and obesity. Increased thirst and urination are present, but less pronounced than in Type 1. The family history is enlightening. It is often very likely that an immediate family member has or had type 2 diabetes (parents, siblings or grandparents). If a parent suffers from type 2 diabetes, the risk for the child of that person is 50 percent. If both parents have type 2 diabetes, the risk is 2 out of 3.
It is common for an undiagnosed person with type 2 diabetes to be used to their symptoms or to reject them as work-related, age-related or weight-related. Long-standing diabetes can be detected when a woman repeatedly experiences yeast infections. If a woman has gestational diabetes that has disappeared after the birth of a child, there is a nearly 50 percent risk of developing type 2 diabetes over the next 10 years.
Another common scenario is an adult who experiences a first heart attack and is then discovered to be suffering from diabetes. Although the heart attack did not cause diabetes, it is a sign of metabolic problems that may have led to diabetes years ago. Similarly, a cut or other injury to an end may be slow or resistant to healing, resulting in gangrene or an open draining wound. This is due to poor blood flow from undiagnosed diabetes.
Many individuals at risk for type 2 diabetes have dark thickened skin or patches of skin on the folds of the neck, waist or groin. This is called acanthosis nigricans. This discoloration or change in texture is a sign of insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. All individuals with risk factors should be screened annually for diabetes. Early diagnosis can prevent or treat many of the long-term effects of diabetes.
The Impact Church in Temple offers a free diabetes screening from 9:30 to 12:00. Children and adults are welcome. There is no appointment required. Impact Church is at 306 E. Adams Ave.
Dr. Stephen Ponder is a pediatric endocrinologist at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children's.