by K.J. Howe
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. It’s staggering how widespread diabetes is–over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed, and it’s possible 8 million more have this illness and don’t know it. It is a worldwide issue with over 380 million people dealing with diabetes across the globe. And the problem is growing.
There are two main types of diabetes:
Type 1 (T1D) is an autoimmune disease where the pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone necessary for people to get energy from food because the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells–beta cells–in the pancreas. Only five percent of people with diabetes have T1D.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, the pancreas makes extra insulin to compensate for the dysfunction, but over time, the pancreas isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to maintain blood sugar levels at normal levels.
Signs and symptoms of diabetes can include:
* Unusual thirst
* Frequent urination
* Weight change (gain or loss)
* Extreme fatigue/lack of energy
* Blurred vision
* Frequent or recurring infections
* Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
* Tingling and numbness in the hands or feet
* Trouble with erections
If you have any of these symptoms, have your doctor test your blood sugar levels right away. Even if you don’t have symptoms, it’s smart to get checked, as many people with type 2 diabetes may have no symptoms.
In The Freedom Broker, my character Thea Paris has T1D, and she uses an insulin pump to keep her blood sugar levels steady while traveling to the globe’s hotspots to bring hostages home. I wanted to demonstrate that having a chronic illness doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying an active and dynamic life. There are many people with diabetes who are prospering in their chosen fields.
Fans of Interview with the Vampire, did you know that Anne Rice has type 1 diabetes? Celebrities who have diabetes include Sharon Stone, Halle Berry, Selma Hayek, Paul Sorvino, Bret Michaels, Vanessa Williams, Christopher Biggins, Larry King, Victor Garber, Tom Hanks, Dick Clark.
Athletes who have diabetes include Ben Coker, Jay Cutler, Billie Jean King, Ryan Reed, Team Novo Nordisk, Charlie Kimball, Joe Eldridge, and Steve Redgrave.
Musicians who have diabetes include Aretha Franklin, Nick Jonas, Bret Michaels, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, and Damon Dash.
Please spread the word about the signs and symptoms, and have your loved ones checked for diabetes. If you’d like more information, visit diabetes.ca or diabetes.org.