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Published on November 04, 2014

Know the facts when dealing with diabetes diagnosis and care

By John Drees, RN, BSN

Diabetes is a serious disease. It can have devastating effects on the body, but many of these issues can be avoided by managing diabetes effectively. What is diabetes? Who is at risk and who should get tested? Knowing the facts is a great place to start.

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Nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, and about 27 percent of those people either don’t know they have it or haven’t been diagnosed.

You can enjoy a complimentary meal while reviewing the latest information on diabetes at a free program, “Understanding and Managing Diabetes,” on Nov. 12, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.   

What is diabetes?

There will be exhibits and a light supper at 5:30 p.m. followed by a program from 6 to 8 p.m. Speakers include Pat Hohman, APRN, CDE, and Nancy Donahey, RD, LD, CDE, of the LMH Diabetes Education Center, and Marc Scarbrough, MD, LMH Hospitalist. Call 749-5800 for reservations; space is limited.


Diabetes means that a person’s blood sugar (glucose) is too high. There are two kinds of diabetes. Type 1 means that the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to help turn sugars into usable energy. This type of diabetes requires the use of insulin every day. Type 1 diabetes is most common in Caucasian people. Type 1 diabetes develops most often in children but can occur at any age.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form. Ninety to 95 percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. When this type of diabetes is diagnosed, the body is usually resistant to insulin and isn’t using it effectively. As it progresses, insulin production begins to decrease and the result is the same as with type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is more common in older people, especially in people who are overweight, and occurs more often in African Americans, American Indians, some Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islander Americans and Hispanics/Latinos.

What is prediabetes?

People with prediabetes have elevated blood sugar levels but do not yet have diabetes. The good news is that people in the prediabetes stage can often prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. The bad news is research has shown that some long-term damage to the body, especially the heart and circulatory system, may already occur during prediabetes.

What happens if diabetes goes untreated?

People with diabetes are at a significantly higher risk of many medical complications. For example, people with diabetes have a higher-than-average risk of having a heart attack or stroke or developing blindness. Though the list of possible issues is long, if diabetes is managed properly, many people are able to delay or prevent the onset of these devastating issues.

Who should get tested for diabetes and when?

Diabetes is a major problem for Americans. Currently, nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, and about 27 percent of those people either don’t know they have it or haven’t been diagnosed. In Douglas County, that means about 10,000 people have diabetes, and about 2,700 of them are unaware that they have the disease.

Recent studies indicate that the early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends if you experience any of the following symptoms you should see a medical professional. Some of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes are:

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue and irritability

Though some people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms, many people experience the following signs:

  • Frequent infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
  • Recurring skin, gum or bladder infections

Resources and information

LMH Diabetes Education Center: 505-3062

American Diabetes Association,

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse,

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

John J. Drees, RN, BSN, is Community Education Specialist for Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which is a major sponsor of WellCommons.

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