Diabetes warning signs: What you don't know could kill you

There are about 25.8 million people in the United States with diabetes. That amounts to one in every 12 persons.

Diabetes is often called the silent killer because there can be no warning signs, including signs you may not even know to watch for.

Shannon Lyles is a registered nurse, diabetes educator and was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age 16 after she realized something was wrong.

"Getting up four, five, six times a night, um, and it just kept progressively getting worse,” said Lyles, a specialist at the University of Florida.

According to Dr. Desmond Schatz, Lyles experienced one of the more common signs of diabetes.

"Typical features are polydipsia, meaning drinking too much, polyuria, urinating too much,” said Schatz, the medical director at the University of Florida College of Medicine’s diabetes center.

However, he says there are also some lesser-known symptoms that should not be ignored.

"A child, for example, who's been potty trained and then suddenly starts wetting the bed at night,” Schatz said. “Constipation may occur in addition, particularly in those patients who are under the age of ten, likewise, the appearance of recurrent boils on the skin."

Also look for changes in a child’s energy. Schatz also says a telltale sign in younger girls could mean diabetes.

“We certainly can explain it in babies with diapers, but if a five or six year old develops recurrent vaginal infections, think about diabetes,” he said.

Call it a twist of fate or mere coincidence, but Schatz diagnosed Lyles over a decade ago and today they partner up in the fight against diabetes.

"It's forever,” said Lyles. “So, it's never going away unless they come up with a cure."

Numbers from the Center for Disease Control show that 7 million of those in the U.S. with diabetes have not yet been diagnosed.

Adults should be aware of high blood pressure, kidney damage and nerve damage. If left undiagnosed, the result could be fatal.

REPORT #2019

BACKGROUND: Diabetes, often called diabetes mellitus, is a group of diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because of inadequate insulin production or because the body's cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both. Patients who have high blood sugar typically have polyuria (frequent urination), hungry, and they will become increasingly thirsty (polydipsia). The three types of diabetes include type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Patients with type 1 do not produce insulin, so they will have to take insulin injections for the rest of their lives. Those with type 2, which is about 90 percent of all cases, do not produce enough insulin for proper function, or the cells in the body do not react to insulin. Gestational diabetes affects women during pregnancy. Some have high glucose levels in their blood and their bodies cannot produce enough insulin to transport the glucose into their cells. (Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com)

A METABOLISM DISORDER: Diabetes is classed as a metabolism disorder. Metabolism refers to the way our bodies use digested food for energy and growth. Most of what we eat is broken down into glucose. When food is digested, it makes it way to the bloodstream. The cells use glucose to grow, but glucose cannot enter our cells without insulin. Someone with diabetes has a condition in which the quantity of glucose in the blood is too high. This is because the body either does not make enough insulin, produces no insulin at all, or has cells that do not respond properly to the insulin the pancreas produces. This will result in too much blood glucose. The excess will eventually pass out of the body in urine. So, even though the blood has plenty of glucose, the cells are not getting it for their essential energy and growth requirements. (Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com)

CHILDREN AND DIABETES: A common myth about children with diabetes is that they will outgrow it. Nearly all children with diabetes have type 1 (insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas have been destroyed). These never come back. Children with type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin for the rest of their lives, until a cure is found. So, be proactive and resourceful. For example, link the school nurse to a diabetes educator who can help train and educate teachers about diabetes or discuss the Diabetes Medical Management Plan provided by your child's health care provider and work together to develop a plan for school including: blood glucose checks, insulin administration, emergency situations, and snacks and meals. (Source: www.diabetes.org)

For More Information, Contact:

Desmond Schatz, MD
Professor and Associate Chairman of Pediatrics
Medical Director, Diabetes Center
University of Florida College of Medicine
(352) 273-9270

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