Diabetes is long term condition that affects over 25 million people in the United States. According to the Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), seven million people are not even aware that they have the disease. Currently, Alabama leads the nation in the number of people diagnosed with diabetes.
This is a serious situation. Diabetes can have far-reaching affects on one’s health, especially if the disease goes unmanaged or undetected. The disease is a major cause of heart problems, stroke, kidney failure, and blindness.
Type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes. This type occurs when the pancreas can no longer make insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is necessary for cells of the body use blood sugar or glucose. Glucose comes from the food one eats and is the source of energy for the body.
Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but it usually occurs in children, teens, or young adults under 30. If a person is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, insulin shots are needed everyday. Symptoms of type 1 include: excessive thirst, hunger, frequent urination, weight loss without trying, sudden vision changes, fatigue, and dry skin.
Type 2 diabetes is more common than type 1, especially among older adults, usually over 40. With type 2 diabetes, the cells do not respond well to insulin (called insulin resistance) or the pancreas does not make enough of the hormone. This type of diabetes happens slowly and is associated with being overweight. Because of the increase in childhood obesity, children are also developing type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can be managed with exercise, diet, and weight control. Sometimes drugs are also prescribed to help the body use glucose more effectively. Although type 2 diabetes may have no symptoms, some people experience symptoms similar to type 1.
The Joslin Diabetes Center, a renowned clinic for diabetes care, opened in January, 2011, at Brookwood Medical Center in Homewood to help deal with this growing problem. By educating patients about the benefits of healthy eating, exercise, and medications, the clinicians at the center hope to improve the health of residents diagnosed with diabetes in the Birmingham area. The center will also focus on educating health care professionals in the region.
For more information about diabetes, check out the following resources for the greater Birmingham area:
- Islets of Hope
- Diabetes Daily
- UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Clinic
- Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Inc.
- Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation–Alabama Chapter
Unmanaged diabetes can lead to serious health problems. By talking with health care professionals and practicing lifestyle changes, diabetes can be controlled with fewer complications.
The articles written by Andrea Wenger, Birmingham Diets Examiner, are for informational purposes only and are not to be used in the place of medical advice. Please contact a licensed physician or other medical professional before changing any health care routine or before starting any diet, fitness, or exercise program. Although every effort has been made to include the most current information, new information is released daily and may cause some recommendations to change.