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Arkansas Methodist Medical Center operates a Diabetes Care Clinic to assist patients in managing diabetes and to raise awareness and educate the public about diabetes, its causes, symptoms and risk factors. The clinic is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. with patients receiving referrals from their physicians for an appointment. Pat Malone, RN, is the Certified Diabetes Educator for AMMC.
There are nearly 21 million people in the United States with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, some 14.6 million people have been diagnosed with the disease; another 6.2 million are unaware they have the disease and have yet to be diagnosed. Also, there are 54 million Americans who are pre-diabetic or on the brink of becoming diabetics. Today, one in every ten healthcare dollars spent, is spent on diabetes and its complications.
Types of Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is caused by a problem with the body's immune system. In a healthy body, specialized cells (called beta cells) in the pancreas make insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows the body to use energy from food. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakes beta cells for invaders and attacks them. When enough beta cells are destroyed, symptoms of diabetes appear.
According to the American Diabetes Association, Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Only 5-10% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children with Type 1 diabetes can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy, happy lives.
In Type 2 diabetes, the beta cells still produce insulin. However, either the cells do not respond properly to the insulin or the insulin produced naturally is not enough to meet the needs of the body. So insulin is usually still present in a person with Type 2 diabetes, but it does not work as well as it should. Some people with Type 2 can keep it under control by losing weight, changing their diet and increasing their exercise. Others take one or more medications, including insulin.
Symptoms of Diabetes
Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless. Recent studies indicate that the early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complications associated with the disease such as nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage and heart disease.
Some symptoms include:
- Frequent Urination
- Excessive Thirst
- Extreme Hunger
- Unusual Weight Loss
- Increased Fatigue
- Blurry Vision
If you experience one or more of these symptoms, please contact your physician.
While there is no cure for diabetes, research is ongoing and there are ways to treat and manage the disease through weight loss, proper nutrition, exercise and medication. For more information on diabetes and AMMC's Diabetes Care Clinic, call 870-239-7016.