Dear Ann Landers: You once printed a column listing diabetes symptoms. You mentioned the better-known ones such as excessive thirst and urination and also the less common ones like tingling and numbness in the hands and feet. I read that list aloud to my husband just as our 13-year-old son walked through the room. He said, “I have some of those symptoms.”
We sent him to the doctor, and his tests were positive for diabetes. He spent eight days in the hospital getting his blood sugar under control and learning how to inject insulin.
My son is now 23 and engaged to be married. His diabetes would have been discovered eventually, but we blamed his tiredness, depression and inability to concentrate on normal problems that junior high school students face.
A while back, you printed a letter on diabetes from the American Diabetes Association. Please let people know diabetes is a serious disease and, if left untreated, can cause blindness, kidney failure, loss of limbs and death. Your column was a lifesaver for my son. Do your readers a favor, and tell them about it again. - Sarasota, Fla.
Dear Sarasota: Thank you for a timely request. On March 25, the American Diabetes Association will hold the American Diabetes Alert to educate people on the risk of diabetes. I can think of no better time to reprint the information you requested:
Dear Ann Landers: Diabetes plagues 16 million Americans. One thousand seven hundred new cases are diagnosed each day, 625,000 new cases each year. That means at least one person is diagnosed every minute. It is the fourth-leading cause of death by disease in the U.S. What’s worse, half the people who have diabetes don’t even know it. Many are diagnosed only when faced with heart disease, vision loss, kidney disease, stroke or nerve damage. It is critical to catch diabetes early because treatment prevents or delays these complications.
The first step is for people to ask themselves three questions: Am I overweight? Am I underactive? Am I over age 45? If the answer is yes to any of these, it’s time to take the diabetes risk test:
1. My weight is at least 20 percent heavier than that recommended for a medium-framed person. If , give yourself 5 points.
2. I am under 65, and I get little or no exercise during a usual day. , 5 points.
3. I am between 45 and 64 years of age. , 5 points.
4. I am 65 or older. , 9 points.
5. I am a woman who has had a baby weighing more than 9 pounds at birth. , 1 point.
6. I have a sister or brother with diabetes. , 1 point.
7. I have a parent with diabetes. , 1 point.
If you score between 3 and 9 points, you’re probably at low risk for diabetes now, but don’t just forget about it. You may be at risk in the future. If you score 10 or more, you are at high risk and we urge you to ask your health care provider about diabetes at your next visit.
Some people with diabetes have symptoms and should contact their doctor immediately. These symptoms include extreme thirst, blurry vision from time to time, frequent urination, unusual tiredness or drowsiness, unexplained weight loss. For more information, call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES. Alan Altschuler, chairman, Philip E. Cryer, M.D., president, Belinda Childs, M.D., R.N., C.D.E., president, health care and education, American Diabetes Association
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