Elizabeth S. Reames | 3/15/2006 3:42:32 AM
On March 28 the American Diabetes Association will issue its annual alert to locate the millions of Americans with undiagnosed diabetes. The event is a one-day call-to-action held on the fourth Tuesday every March for people to learn if they are at risk for diabetes.
The alert's goal is to raise the awareness that diabetes is serious and that a person can have diabetes and not even know it, says LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.
According to the American Diabetes Association, 18.2 million Americans have diabetes, and about 151,000 young people under age 20 have it.
"Some people are more likely to get diabetes than others," Reames says, adding, "These include people who have family members with diabetes, certain ethnic groups – including Native Americans, African-Americans, Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islanders – and people with some other health problems, such as being overweight."
Diabetes is a serious, lifelong disease without a cure. People with diabetes must learn to manage the disease and take care of themselves properly.
Reames explains that people with diabetes either can’t make or properly use a hormone called insulin. The body needs insulin to transform glucose (sugar) into energy. Without insulin, sugar levels in the blood get very high.
Reames also notes there are two major types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is a disease in which the body does not produce insulin, most often occurring in children and young adults. People with type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin by injection or pump to stay alive.
Type 2 results from the body’s inability to make enough, or properly use insulin. It is the most common form of the disease, accounting for 90 percent to 95 percent of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is nearing epidemic proportions in both children and youth because of obesity and sedentary lifestyles.
Reames says the warning signs of diabetes include frequent urination, thirst, hunger, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, irritability, slow healing of wounds or sores, tingling or numbness in hands or feet, dry skin, itching, blurry vision and high blood pressure.
People with type 2 diabetes often have no symptoms. In type 2 diabetes, blood sugar levels rise intermittently or so slowly that a person usually does not have symptoms and may have the disease for many years before diagnosis.
A recent study conducted at 27 research centers in the United States found that by adopting a moderate, consistent diet and exercise program, many people with one or more of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes can stop the disease before it becomes irreversible.
The study found that not only did changes in diet and physical activity prevent or delay the development of diabetes, they actually restored normal glucose levels in many people who had impaired glucose tolerance. These findings support the recommendations given through the LSU AgCenter’s Diabetes Education Awareness Recommendations (DEAR) Program.
For related nutrition information, click on the Family and Home link on the LSU AgCenter home page, at www.lsuagcenter.com, or contact the extension county agent in your parish.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com
On the Internet: American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/home.jsp
Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3929, or firstname.lastname@example.org