HAWC aids in diabetes awereness Published Nov. 6, 2009 By Airman 1st Class Courtney Witt 36th Wing Public Affairs ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Each November, the American Diabetes Association encourages people to take a closer look at diabetes. Andersen's Health and Wellness Center is spreading the word on the disease and options available here at Andersen AFB. Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because symptoms that seem so harmless are left untreated. Recent studies show that early detection can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes by starting the patient on treatments right away. Symptoms for Type 1 Diabetes are: Frequent urination, unusual thirst and weight loss, extreme hunger, extreme fatigue and irritability. Symptoms for Type 2 Diabetes are: Any of the Type 1 symptoms, frequent infections, blurred vision, cuts and/or bruises that are slow to heal, tingling and or numbness in the hands and/or feet, recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections. Often people with Type 2 diabetes have no symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic's website, the term "diabetes mellitus" refers to a group of diseases that affect how the body uses blood glucose, commonly called blood sugar. Glucose is vital to the health because it's the main source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. Glucose is the body's main source of fuel. Too much glucose in blood can lead to serious health problems. The Mayo Clinic states that Type 1 diabetes causes the immune system -- which normally fights harmful bacteria or viruses -- to attack and destroy the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This leaves the body with little or no insulin. Instead of being transported into cells, sugar builds up in the bloodstream. Causes of pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes are when cells become resistant to the action of insulin, and the pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to overcome this resistance. Instead of moving into the cells, sugar builds up in the bloodstream. Exactly why this happens is uncertain, although excess fat -- especially abdominal fat -- and inactivity seem to be important factors. Diabetes is associated with a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening complications, which include: Heart disease and stroke - Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about two to four times higher than adults without diabetes. Blindness - Diabetic retinopathy causes 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness each year making diabetes the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults 20-74 years of age. Kidney disease - Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44 percent of new cases in 2002. Amputations - More than 60 percent of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes. "People should be their number one advocate in their medical care," said Maj. Cynthia Pouncey, Health and Wellness Center Health Promotions Manager. Team Andersen members can take steps to prevent diabetes: Maintain a healthy weight, know family history, stay physically active, eat a balanced diet that is low in fat and sugar, monitor blood pressure regularly and take steps to reduce it. Everyone over the age of 45 should schedule a blood glucose measurement test with their doctor every three years. The HAWC, with support from others in the 36th Medical Group, offers a monthly multi-disciplinary diabetic education program for diagnosed with the disease or people who have impaired glucose tolerance. For more information, call 1-800-DIABETES or visit www.diabetes.org. Information can also be found at the American Diabetes Association on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AmericanDiabetesAssociation) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/AmDiabetesAssn). For more local information contact the HAWC at 366-3199.