Diabetes Awareness Month

Bringing Awareness to a Diabetes Epidemic

November isn’t just the start of the holiday season it also kicks off National Diabetes Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 30 million kids and adults have diabetes. And here’s an interesting fact: diabetes kills more people than AIDS and breast cancer combined. KXAN’s Gigi Barnett talked with The Austin Diagnostic Clinic Endocrinologist Sherwin Yen, MD and his patient Susie Jockisch, who is an American Diabetes Association Red Strider and spokesperson for the Austin chapter.

Why don’t people pay more attention to diabetes?

Dr. Yen says that initially most people do not feel like they have high blood sugars, until their blood sugars are very, very high. When people don’t feel any different they don’t necessarily know there is anything wrong.

What’s the difference between type one and type two diabetes.

For type one diabetes the problem is that the pancreas is not making insulin because of an autoimmune obstruction. When your body is not making insulin, that insulin can’t bring those sugars down and that’s why a Type One patient will have high blood sugars. This is in contrast to people with type two diabetes, whose pancreas is making insulin but they have a high resistance to insulin. So, their insulin is not working to prevent their blood sugars from going high as well.

In Susie’s case she’s type 1 1/2, she has a component of type one diabetes, where for most type one patient’s the pancreas stops working at a younger age of 10 or 12 years, but she presented in her late 30s. Dr. Yen says he is seeing more people presenting with Type One in their thirties as their pancreas function decreases over time and at a slower rate.

Susie was diagnosed at age 37 with type one diabetes. She went two her primary care doctor for an infection and based on the results of the urine test, her doctor performed a blood test on the spot. Her blood glucose was four times the levels of what a normal blood glucose level should be. Less than an hour and 1/2 later she was meeting with Dr. Yen and started on insulin immediately. She started on four injections a day, and after four months, she transitioned to an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring.

What were some of the symptoms?

Looking back, Susie recognizes the symptoms, but at the time she didn’t know. Susie experienced rapid weight loss, which she attributed to working out or eating healthier and she had excessive thirst, she was drinking water all the time and had constant urination, which she attributed to being an adult. It wasn’t until after her diagnosis, that the symptoms made sense all together.

How much of type one diabetes is hereditary?

Dr. Yen says it can be hereditary and their is a genetic component, but there’s also some data showing that it could be environmental, as well caused by certain infections or viral infections that can trigger onset of type one. Certainly in type two diabetes, he can see that genetics and a family history can mean increased risk. He says we are learning more and more about about the importance of diet, sugary beverages and even diet beverages that can increase the risk of diabetes and weight gain. He also talks about the critical importance of exercise, especially with those individuals already diagnosed with diabetes to prevent progression of the disease.

Resources:

  • For information about Diabetes visit Diabetes.org
  • To register or donate for the Step Out for Diabetes event visit
  • To make an appointment with ADC Endocrinology call 512-901-1111 or request an appointment below

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