Western Courier

November recognized as Diabetes Awareness Month

Emily Stieren, Assistant News Editor

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For individuals, healthcare professionals and organizations hoping to create awareness of the impact diabetes has on millions of people every year, November is recognized as National Diabetes Month.

 “Type 1 diabetes is a malfunction where they don’t make insulin or make very little amounts of insulin,” said Michael Waters, Medical Chief of Staff at the Beu Health Center on Western Illinois University’s campus. “It is very complex on how that comes about as it is with type 2 diabetes as well. The basic dysfunction is that the islet cells in the pancreas just stop making insulin.”

 Without insulin, one is not capable of converting food such as sugar and starches into energy needed for daily life.

 Brandon Weidner, 21, of Waggoner, Ill., was diagnosed at 17-years-old with type 1 diabetes, which is  considerably late for a diagnosed type 1 diabetic.

 “People think that I cannot have certain foods,” Weiner said. “I am a type 1, so I take insulin for what I eat. I count the carbs that I eat, and I also count for what kind of activity I am going to be doing. If I get that right, my (blood sugar) numbers will be spot on. It makes me mad when people are like ‘Oh you’re diabetic. You shouldn’t be having that donut.’ I mean it’s not good for me, but it’s not good for anyone else either, so it’s just very rude.”

 Waters said that type 1 diabetes is either a genetic or autoimmune disease, and it does not mean those diagnosed made poor lifestyle choices.

 “It is just the way that they were born. It is nothing that they are doing that is causing them to have diabetes,” Waters said. “With type 1 diabetes, you can’t regulate your diet to make it go away, and you can’t exercise your way out of it. You just have to take insulin to treat it.”

 Charla Luckey, the mother of 11-year-old type 1 diabetic Isaac Luckey, said that a lot of people cannot distinguish the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, which she thinks is a problem.

 “Type 2 diabetes is absolutely 100 percent different from type 1, and that is the biggest misconception in the world,” Luckey said. “Type 1 can be inherited, but it doesn’t have to be. Isaac’s is not. He has no one else in either side of his family with type 1. It is not from eating too much, it is not from your weight and it’s not from how you take care of yourself. Type 2 doesn’t always mean that either. It is not just for obese people or for people who aren’t active. The types are two different things, but there are a lot of misconceptions about them both.”

 According to Waters, type 2 diabetics can have diminished insulin as well, or their bodies can just be resistant to the effects of it.

 “For type 2 diabetics, you can’t say that it is because they are lazy people,” Waters said. “Their body is very resistant to insulin, which makes them susceptible to weight gain.”

 Whether or not an individual is a type 1 or type 2 diabetic, knowing how to take care of a loved one with the disease is very essential, according to Weidner.

 “Friends and family should be aware of how to help the diabetic because it is one thing to see that there is something wrong, but you also need to be able to help the person,” Weidner said. “So, you need to know where their juice is or their sweets of some sort are, and you need to just keep track of the person.”

 Waters said that typically, blood sugar levels should be in the 120 to 180 range. Individuals around diabetics should be capable of handling them with high or low blood sugar.

 “One thing that people should be aware of if they have a diabetic friend or family member is that sometimes they can have low blood sugar,” Waters said. “That is when you might have to help them. They may seem to be confused, disoriented, weak or they may not be making sense. You need to check their blood sugars to make sure their blood sugar isn’t unusually low.”

The common signs of diabetes are increased thirst, increased hunger, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss and feeling very tired. Weidner said he experienced these symptoms severely for about month prior to being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

 For more information about the disease, visit the Bella Hearst Diabetes Institute located on Western’s campus in Knoblauch Hall. The institute provides individualized nutrition recommendations, health related fitness assessments, individualized exercise programs and a diabetes support group.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
November recognized as Diabetes Awareness Month