Actress Mary Tyler Moore
battles it. Country singer Mark Collie has it. Rhythm and blues singer Pattie
LaBelle was diagnosed with it recently.
Celebrities like Moore, Collie and LaBelle
are just three well-known faces amid the 16 million Americans suffering from
diabetes mellitus, a chronic disease in which the pancreas produces too little
or no insulin, impairing the body's ability to turn sugar into usable
Heart attack, stroke, blindness, amputation, kidney failure. When doctors
describe these diabetes complications, it may sound melodramatic -- like an
overblown worst-case scenario. The truth is, these things can happen when blood
sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol are out of control.
"A lot of people don't really think it will happen to them," says David C.
Ziemer, MD, director of the Diabetes Clinic at Grady Hospital in Atlanta. "For
a lot of folks, the wake-up comes when they actually...
In recent years, the Food and Drug
Administration has approved a fast-acting form of human insulin and several new
oral diabetes drugs, including the most recent, Rezulin (troglitazone), the
first of a new class of drugs called insulin sensitizers. This drug is designed
to help Type II diabetics make better use of the insulin produced by their
bodies and could help as many as 1 million Type II diabetics reduce or
eliminate their need for insulin injections.
While it is treatable, diabetes is still a
killer. The fourth leading cause of death in America, diabetes claims an
estimated 178,000 lives each year. So the treatment is aimed at holding the
disease in check, reversing it where possible, and preventing
Philip Cryer, M.D., a professor at Washington
University School of Medicine in St. Louis and president of the American
Diabetes Association, believes that most people simply don't understand the
magnitude of the diabetes problem. "Diabetes is an increasingly common,
potentially devastating, treatable yet incurable, lifelong disease. It's the
leading cause of blindness in working-age adults, the most common cause of
kidney failure leading to dialysis or transplants, and is a leading cause of
amputation," he says. "The most recent estimate we have of diabetes'
cost (in terms of) direct medical care is $90 billion dollars annually -- more
than heart disease, cancer, or AIDS."
At the heart of diabetes control are dietary
management and drug treatment. The increasing emphasis on the importance of a
healthy diet, the availability of glucose monitoring devices that can help
diabetics keep a close watch over blood sugar levels, and the wide range of
drug treatments enable most diabetics to live a near-normal life.
Managing the diet is easier now because of
food labeling regulations that went into effect in 1994.
Two Types of Diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes, Type I
and Type II. Insulin-dependent, or Type I, diabetes affects about 5
percent of all diabetics. It's also known as juvenile diabetes because it often
occurs in people under 35 and commonly appears in children or adolescents. For
example, Mary Tyler Moore, a Type I diabetic who is international chairman of
the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, was diagnosed in her late 20s, following a
miscarriage. A routine test found her blood sugar level was 750 milligrams per
deciliter (mg/dl), as compared with the normal level, 70 mg/dl to 105 mg/dl.
And Collie has been diabetic since age 17.
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Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
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