Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Knowledge Necessary to Deal With Diabetes

Knowledge Necessary to Deal With Diabetes

Being educated about diabetes is important for everyone affected by the disease — especially the parents of young diabetics, said Laurence Martin, a pediatrician and pediatric endocrinologist at Regional Hospital

Type 1 diabetes affects 1 in 500 children and is a lifelong condition with no cure, he said. Type 2 diabetes, which used to be seen only in adults, started to occur in children about 15 years ago, and the numbers are growing, he said.

"It used to be unusual to see. But now we see it on a regular basis," he said. "Type 2 is maybe even increasing to become more common than Type 1, which is very much self-inflicted. It runs in families; it's inherited. It's related to obesity."

Education for adults currently is offered at Regional. Jessica Strickland, a clinical dietitian, leads a monthly class on diabetes for adults. The one-day class includes a complimentary lunch, which is used as an educational tool, and complimentary lab work. The class includes a dietitian, a registered nurse, a clinical pharmacist, a physical therapist/wound care specialist and a medical resident, Strickland said.

"Each one speaks to their area of diabetes care and management," she said. "There is no fee for the class. This is a service Regional provides to the community."

Strickland encourages each person to bring a support person, and she said the class is for any adult with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 — or adult-onset diabetes — may be increasing to become more common than Type 1, Martin said. He has Type 2 patients as young as 5 years old, he said.

"It's not so much about a shortage of insulin, but about too much person," he said. "It's about insulin resistance. The body develops insulin resistance, so the body develops more to keep up and the person gains weight. With proper diet, exercise and weight control, you can make Type 2 go away."

Sometimes patients can use pills, but some become so overweight that they have to have insulin shots, he said.

Most parents, when they find out about Type 1 diabetes, feel the news is sudden, Martin said.

"It develops quickly," he said. "Parents are distressed and troubled. A major lifestyle change is involved. Type 2 sneaks up, and it can be there a while and you not know."

Many adults have Type 2 and may not know it. Martin said 20 to 30 million Americans don't know they have Type 2 diabetes.

"It's all about diet, exercise and what I call 'screen time,'" he said. "The TV screen, the computer screen, the iPhone screen. As we become more sedentary, this becomes more a problem. Type 2 is socioeconomic — it's really expensive to eat healthy."

Parents and adult diabetics should look at food labels and be aware of free calories, Martin said. He often warns parents about juices because some have a lot of sugar.

People with diabetes and those in danger of becoming diabetic should stay active.

"A muscle at work doesn't need insulin, so the less insulin needed, the less weight gained," he said.

It's important to be informed about diabetes, especially in children, Martin said.

"This has long-term impacts on a child's health and on your long-term health," he said. "Complications to diabetes can affect the eyes, kidneys, nerves; with Type 2, you add in cardiac disease and harm to the feet."

If the disease starts at age 30, complications develop 20 or 30 years later. If the disease develops at age 5, complications come when a child is relatively young, Martin said.

"This has an impact on generations," he said. "This is one of the most expensive diseases nationally. We spend a huge amount of health care money on diabetes. If we bring down the burden on individuals and society, everyone will benefit."

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