Diabetes Educator Urges Early Detection to Combat Disease

IU HealthDiabetes is a common disease affecting many people around the world, but some people may already have the disease without even knowing it.

That’s according to Patty Leonard, outpatient diabetes educator at IU Health Starke and LaPorte Hospitals. “You could have diabetes for a good number of years, even five years, before even having the overt symptoms to be able to identify it,” she says. “So routine screenings, yearly checks with your primary care provider and you doctor is really very important to be able to catch pre-diabetes and diabetes.”

She says there are a few things to look for, though, “The most common symptoms of Type 2 diabetics are increased thirst, increased urination – we call it drinking and peeing, you just can’t drink enough water and you can’t pee enough, quite honestly – increased hunger, fluctuations in weight. Sometimes blurred vision is very common. So there are these symptoms that occur but usually, they are already occurring after a person has diabetes.”

Leonard says the risk for Type 2 diabetes increases with age and also has a lot to do with family history. However, there are also plenty of risk factors that people can control. “So controlling our diet, controlling our weight, and really having a healthy weight and maintaining an active lifestyle is really very important,” she says. “And early screening, because many times, if you’re pre-diabetic, you can reverse that back to a normal number, sometimes with just diet and exercise on their own, sometimes with medication added, as well too.” If not properly treated, diabetes can lead to complications, including nerve damage, vision problems, and stroke.

Classes and support groups are offered at IU Health hospitals for people affected by diabetes or pre-diabetes. For more information, call 219-326-2478.