After all, November is Diabetes Awareness Month. But what do we mean when we say it’s “disease x awareness month”? Surely we’re all aware of diabetes. Hopefully we’re all aware of how big of a problem diabetes is. So why do we dedicate one month a year to becoming aware of a disease we are already aware of? I think “disease x awareness month” is just a better sounding way of saying “we want an excuse to be in your face for a month and raise a lot of money”. And don’t get me wrong, raising money to fund research for these diseases is a good thing. But if we stop to think about it, these months aren’t really for awareness at all.
I’ll let the Diabetes Association have their “Diabetes Fundraising Month”- but I’m going to use the month of November to really bring awareness to Diabetes.
1. There are several types of Diabetes, all of which have their own distinct pathology, symptoms and diagnostic criteria.
- Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes is typically diagnosed early in life and is due to an autoimmune reaction and destruction of the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. After enough of the pancreas is destroyed, these folks need to be on insulin replacement for the rest of their lives.
Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes usually include excessive thirst, excessive urination and
- Type 1.5 Diabetes is also called Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults, or LADA. LADA is a relatively new addition to the diabetes family and many doctors and medical professionals are still unaware of it. These folks are typically misdiagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic because they are almost always caught after the age of 30, however they are skinny or normal weight. It has been estimated that anywhere from 5-20% of Type 2 Diabetics in western countries are actually misdiagnosed LADA patients. This misdiagnosis is huge- since their disease is much more similar to Type 1 it should be managed as an autoimmune patient to prevent further autoimmune destruction of other tissues.
Characteristics that set Type 1.5 apart is that they tend to be diagnosed between the
ages of 30 and 50, have a history of autoimmune disease, are skinny or normal weight,
and have very high fasting blood glucose at the time of diagnosis (upwards of
400-1000!) and progress rapidly to insulin dependance. People are shocked when these
people say they have diabetes and they are told “but you look so healthy/skinny/fine!”
- Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is due to insulin resistance, a state in which the cells of the body become less and less responsive to insulin which leads to high blood sugar and high insulin levels. This can largely be managed or reversed with appropriate sugar and carbohydrate restriction and exercise.
Type 2 Diabetes symptoms (and symptoms of insulin resistance and pre diabetes) include
sugar and carbohydrate cravings, lack of energy “crashing” after meals, difficulty losing
weight, and brain fog.
- Type 3 Diabetes is what researchers are now calling Alzheimer’s Disease. Prolonged high amounts of blood sugar (glucose) and insulin are a potent cause for inflammation in the brain. Numerous studies have shown that your risk of getting AD increases dramatically if you have diabetes, and even more so if you need insulin. What’s even more frightening is that elevations in fasting glucose above 100- well below the threshold of diabetes- have also been shown to increase your risk of AD.
- Diabetes Insipidus, while it shares the name diabetes, is a completely different disease than the rest of those listed here. Diabetes Insipidus is a relatively rare disease that effects the body’s ability to retain fluids.
Similar to Type 1 Diabetes, the symptoms of this disease are usually excessive thirst and
If you or somebody you know is interested in working with a functional medicine doctor please call my office at (919) 238-4094 and see if we are the right fit for you. Infinity Holistic Healthcare is located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, part of the Raleigh-Durham “triangle” area.