Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
I am always thirsty and drink lots of water. But, then I have to go to the bathroom frequently. Someone at work suggested that I might have diabetes. What do you think?
Excessive thirst and frequent urination are symptoms of diabetes. But, to know for sure, you would need to see your doctor in order to check your blood glucose level.
The American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org) gives the following definitions for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes symptoms and complications.
WHAT IS DIABETES?
Type 1 Diabetes: caused by an autoimmune disorder-a problem with the body's immune system. In a healthy body, specialized cells (called beta cells) in the pancreas make insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows the body to use energy from food. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakes beta cells for invaders and attacks them. When enough beta cells are destroyed, symptoms of diabetes appear.
Type 2 Diabetes: the beta cells still produce insulin. However, either the cells do not respond properly to the insulin or the insulin produced naturally is not enough to meet the needs of the body. So insulin is usually still present in a person with type 2 diabetes, but it does not work as well as it should. Some people with type 2 can keep it under control by losing weight, changing their diet, and increasing their exercise. Others take one or more medications, including insulin.
A diabetes myth - diabetes is not caused by eating too much sugar. This myth probably began when people with diabetes were absolutely forbidden from consuming sugar. Researchers no longer believe this. Your child can still have all of her favorite sweets as long as they are scheduled in her eating plan.
Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless. Recent studies indicate that the early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes.
Some diabetes symptoms include:
1. Frequent urination
2. Excessive thirst
3. Extreme hunger
4. Unusual weight loss
5. Increased fatigue
7. Blurry vision
If you have one or more of these diabetes symptoms, then see your doctor right away.
DIABETES COMPLICATIONS & RELATED CONCERNS
If you don't take good care of diabetes, over time, it can cause some problems. But, hyperglycemia is a strain on the body and it can cause problems later on. Some diabetes complications include:
1. Neuropathy is nerve damage. It can cause problems in legs as well as other systems in the body.
2. Retinopathy is damage to the eyes.
3. Nephropathy is kidney disease. The kidneys filter waste out of the blood when they don't work well, poisons can build up.
4 Heart disease is more common in people with diabetes.
There are treatments to help people with these problems. For example, eye surgery can often keep retinopathy from turning into blindness. Good diabetes care now can delay or prevent complications later.
Some specific complications to watch for
People with diabetes are more likely to have some kinds of problems, like dry skin or gum disease. Some of these areas include:
1. Skin Complications
At some point in their lives, as many as one-third of people with diabetes will have a skin problem caused or affected by diabetes. Luckily, most skin conditions can be prevented or easily treated if caught early. To prevent problems, try to keep blood glucose levels in the target range, keep hands clean and dry, treat cuts right away, and include a dermatologist in your child's diabetes care team.
2. Foot Complications
People with diabetes can develop many different foot problems. Foot problems most often happen when there is nerve damage in the feet or when blood flow is poor. Learn how to protect your feet by following some basic guidelines.
3. Oral Health
People with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum disease and other mouth-related problems.
For more information on diabetes, see www.diabetes.org