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November is National Diabetes Month

Diabetes can occur at any age, even in the first year of life. It occurs when the pancreas does not produce adequate amounts of the hormone insulin. Insulin is essential for allowing the body to produce and store energy. In people who do not have diabetes, insulin is produced as necessary to process food. Diabetes occurs when a person has a decreased supply of insulin or if the insulin does not work properly. The primary problem that results is elevation in blood sugar levels.
 
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There are two major types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.
 
Warning signs include:
• Increased thirst
• Increased urination
• Waking up at night to urinate
• Bedwetting, if this is a new condition
• Increased appetite, but with weight loss instead of weight gain
• Fatigue
• Difficulty concentrating
• Frequent headaches
• Blurry vision
 
 
Type 1 Diabetes
 
Type 1 diabetes used to be known as childhood-onset diabetes. It is now known that Type 1 diabetes can occur at anytime from childhood until adulthood. It is more commonly present in children greater than five years old. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. This means that the body's system for fighting infection - the immune system - turns against the pancreas. The pancreas is the organ responsible for making insulin. You cannot get Type 1 diabetes from eating sugar or from gaining too much weight.
 
The exact cause of Type 1 diabetes is not currently known. What is known is that there are certain genes associated with a higher risk of developing Type 1 diabetes. Inheriting those high-risk genes does not automatically mean that a person will go on to develop Type 1 diabetes.  Instead, there is some sort of environmental "trigger" that causes the person with those high-risk genes to then develop Type 1 diabetes. Exactly what those triggers are is not yet known. Currently there are ongoing international research studies to determine these specific triggers, and other studies that focus on genes and blood markers to determine why one sibling in a family might develop diabetes while another does not. A child with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily to live.
 
Type 2 Diabetes
 
Type 2 diabetes used to be known as adult-onset diabetes. With the increase in childhood obesity in recent years, however, we are seeing Type 2 diabetes more frequently in children. Type 2 diabetes has a definite environmental component. An imbalance between caloric intake and daily physical activity results in overweight or obesity. If there is a family history of diabetes, children are at a much higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Children in minority groups have a higher incidence of Type 2 diabetes.
 
Type 2 diabetes tends to be present at age 10 or greater, but can occur at any age in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood. Type 2 diabetes is weight-related. The best way to prevent Type 2 diabetes is to follow a healthy diet and stay physically active. For addition information you may go to www.diabetes.org or www.dexcom.com. I hope this information has been helpful to someone in our community.
 
Nurse Allen
 
What is diabetes? (Video)
 
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