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Sharing your challenges and successes with people who face the same struggles has proven to be beneficial in controlling diabetes. Get the help you need by joining Northwest Community Hospital’s Diabetes Management Group, a support group for adults with diabetes. Click here for more information or call 847.618.4475.

Diabetes 101

This serious medical condition is often undetected, but it can be managed

Here's a sobering statistic: There are 20.8 million people in the U.S. with diabetes, but nearly 6.2 million of them don't even know it. That's because the symptoms, like increased thirst and more frequent urination, often go unnoticed. And that's dangerous, because left unchecked, diabetes can contribute to a host of serious health complications, from vision loss to heart disease and stroke.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the body doesn't produce or properly use insulin, the hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. The two main types of diabetes are:

  • Type 1, in which the body can't produce insulin. It's estimated that 5 to 10 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have this form
  • Type 2, which results from insulin resistance, where the body fails to properly use insulin. Most Americans diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes

"Many people are at higher risk of developing diabetes. Some have a family history of diabetes, though more people are at risk because they are overweight.," says Maria Justina B. Villano, MD, a board-certified endocrinologist. "There's a very clear relationship between weight gain and your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In many cases, [the condition] may be preventable."

Reduce Your Diabetes Risk

According to Dr. Villano, people can reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by getting plenty of exercise, increasing their intake of fruits and vegetables and maintaining a healthy weight. "Studies have shown you can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by losing as little as seven percent of your body weight," she says.

She also recommends seeing a doctor for blood glucose screenings. According to the American Diabetes Association, screening for the disease is key. The recommendations include:

  • Screening overweight or obese adults age 45 or older at least every three years
  • Screening adults of any age who are overweight or obese and have one or more additional risk factors for diabetes, such as a family history of diabetes
  • Screening women who have had gestational diabetes, a form of the disease that occurs during pregnancy, and can develop into type 2 diabetes years later

The good news: As Dr. Villano says, with proper screenings, that sobering statistic could diminish. And more people could control diabetes.

Randall Kahan, MD

Maria Justina B. Villano, MD

Endocrinologist - 847.725.8453 - www.nchmedicalgroup.com

  • Board-certified: Internal Medicine and Endocrinology
  • Medical School: University of Philippines College of Medicine
  • Residency: Philippine General Hospital and University Hospital—University of Cincinnati
  • Fellowship: University of Cincinnati

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Last Updated 04/10/2009