Understanding Type 1, Type 2 diabetes

Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. To that end, the Monticello Lions Club is being proactive, hoping to help the community learn more about Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

     On Thursday, Nov. 9, Diabetes Educator Julie Guthrie, RN with UnityPoint–Jones Regional Medical Center will speak at a Lions Club event, “Diabetes Awareness Education Night.” The event will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Monticello Berndes Center.

     Guthrie handles the diabetes outpatient program at JRMC. She works with many patients, of all ages, all living with diabetes.

     Many myths are tied to those with diabetes. In fact, both Type 1 and Type 2 are completely different forms of diabetes. According to the CDC, in 2015, 1.5 million people, 18 years and older, were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

     Those with Type 2 are diagnosed because their bodies cannot use insulin properly. Guthrie while Type 2 can develop at any age, typically it’s seen in people over the age of 40.

     “However,” she said, “we never saw Type 2 develop in kids until the last five years.” Guthrie said that’s likely attributed toward the high obesity rate in youth and their level of inactivity.

     “Ninety to 95 percent of all cases of diabetes are Type 2,” said Guthrie. “That’s huge.”

     While there’s no cure for diabetes, at any level, Guthrie said people can manage it with proper diet/weight loss, exercise, and medications. “It’s all reducing the insulin resistance,” added Guthrie.

     Aside from age and weight, there are other risk factors associated with Type 2: family history of diabetes, inactivity, and ethnicity.

     Guthrie said sleep apnea is also a factor, getting less than five hours of sleep a night.

     Symptoms to know about for Type 2 include: increased urination, increased thirst, dry mouth or skin, cuts and bruises that don’t heal, blurred vision, very fatigued, and hunger due to low energy.

     “With proper diet and exercise and medications,” said Guthrie, “these symptoms can fluctuate. Proper care can reduce the long-term complications.” She went on to say that improving one’s quality of life is the main goal to avoid long-term complications due to diabetes. “Little changes can make a big difference.”

     The big take-away: maintain a healthy weight, stay active, and eat healthy.

     For those who might show signs of pre-diabetes, Guthrie said if you don’t follow through and make some lifestyle changes, five years down the line, you’re more likely to develop Type 2.

     “Being pre-diabetic wasn’t really a big thing until the last couple of years,” said Guthrie. “But the CDC is trying to make it a big deal.”

     Type 1 diabetes means one’s body does not make enough insulin. Guthrie said the body requires insulin in order to survive. Type 1 can develop at any age, though typically children and young adults, with no known way in which to prevent it.

     “Type 1 is an autoimmune disease,” explained Guthrie. She said the body starts attacking the pancreas cells because of lack of insulin. “People generally have to give themselves insulin shots in order to survive.”

     With Type 1, Guthrie said lifestyle changes have nothing to do with lessening the effects. Some signs include: excess weight gain without trying to lose weight, excess thirst, frequent urination, and extreme fatigue.

     “It comes on very quickly,” said Guthrie. “And it’s the worst because the person’s body in insulin resistant.”

     Most recently, Guthrie said experts have seen signs of LAD (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes) in adults. It’s commonly referred to as Type 1.5.

     “People in their 30s are being diagnosed with this, showing signs of Type 1 and Type 2,” explained Guthrie. “They’re insulin-dependent like those with Type 1.

     Diabetes in general can lead to a whole slew of other health issues: depression, gum disease, feet/circulation problems, heart disease, etc.

     “Be proactive and always ask your doctor for a copy of your labs,” Guthrie urged when seeing your doctor for any reason. “Ask about your glucose rates, be your own advocate.”

     She said there is a big push to diagnosis people at the pre-diabetes stage in the hopes of preventing Type 2.

     “Like cancer, the sooner we catch it the better,” said Guthrie.

     JRMC hosts a “Preventing Diabetes” workshop at no cost for those who might have pre-diabetes, to learn how to reduce the risk factors. It’s held in the outpatient clinic at the hospital in Anamosa. The next two sessions are Thursday, Dec. 7 at 4 p.m. and Jan. 4 at 9 a.m. Call 319-481-6238 for more information. 


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