Disease can happen to anyone of any age
“Diabetes mellitus is a disease characterized by elevated blood glucose,” said Wendell Myers, an endocrinologist at the Kentucky Diabetes Endocrinology Center. “It may lead to symptoms of polyuria, polydipsia, blurred vision and weight loss.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, the hormone insulin is necessary for converting sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. There are two distinct types of diabetes. This article looks particularly at type I diabetes.
“For diabetes I, there are certain HLA types that increase risk,” Myers said. “It is caused by an autoimmune attack on the beta cells that produce insulin. Although it was previously called juvenile onset diabetes, Type I diabetes can happen to anyone of any age, ethnicity or body type.”
Diagnosis of diabetes is straightforward. “It is diagnosed by a fasting blood glucose of >126mg/dL x2, random blood glucose of >200mg/dL x2, positive oral glucose tolerance test or HgbA1c of >6.5 percent, which is the newest criteria,” said Myers. Since Type I diabetes is characterized by absolute lack of insulin, it is treated with insulin replacement.
Patients with diabetes should keep track of their blood glucose levels by using home glucose monitors. “They should also be seen quarterly by their physician for A1c monitoring,” said Myers. “Patients also should be monitored periodically for development of diabetes complications. They should be getting annual eye exams, foot exams and urine proteins measurements.” Newly diagnosed patients with diabetes should be seen by a diabetes educator for basic education, Myers added.
Patients with type I diabetes are at risk for other autoimmune disorders, especially thyroid disease, said Myers.
By Jamie Lober, Staff Writer