November 12 2004 - A PHYSICIAN TALKS ABOUT DIABETES

Press Release - November 12, 2004
A PHYSICIAN TALKS ABOUT DIABETES

For Immediate Release

November 12, 2004

Contact:
John Moore
Media Relations
(903) 531-4542


DIABETES BECOMING AN EPIDEMIC

“Diabetes Mellitus”
by Meg Reitmeyer, MD
Trinity Clinic Endocrinologist

TYLER, TX – The medical community has labeled diabetes an “epidemic.” Over 18 million Americans have diabetes now with a projected 20 to 50 million Americans in the “pre-diabetes” stage. Diabetes costs us over $100 billion dollars in 2002 in medications, doctor visits, hospitalizations, dialysis and time lost from work. What is this problem that touches each of us?

The word “diabetes” means excessive urination and it is actually used to describe several different disorders. The “diabetes” most of us imply when we use the term is “Diabetes Mellitus.” “Mellitus” is derived from a Greek word for sweet. Diabetes mellitus means “excessive amounts of sweet urine.” In ancient times, urine was tasted to diagnose diabetes. Fortunately, we now have blood tests to help guide us.

Why are we seeing this surge in diabetes? Unfortunately, the rewards of civilization—plenty of food and leisure time—have fueled the epidemic of diabetes. Obesity is the driving force behind the escalating numbers. Although most people think of diabetes as a problem for the elderly, the highest rate of increase in the last decade was the 30 to 40 year old age group. Children are developing diabetes at an alarming rate, even as young as age five or six. Current estimates by the Centers for Diabetes Control state that one out of every three children born in 2000 will develop diabetes during their lifetime. I have recently seen 3 year olds weighing 75 pounds and in the pre-diabetic stage.

Diabetes is not just about high blood sugars. If you ask most people what problem causes the most suffering and death for diabetics, you usually hear about blindness or kidney failure and dialysis. Few people realize that 80% or more of diabetics have circulation problems leading to heart attacks, strokes and/or amputations of the feet and legs. All too often, diabetics discover their disease when they arrive at the emergency room with their heart attack.

Who is at risk for diabetes? In the American culture, everyone is at risk, but some groups and problems raise the risk significantly. Certain ethnic groups—African-American, American Indian and Hispanic—have very high percentages of people with diabetes. Siblings of type 2 diabetics have about a 50 percent lifetime risk. A parent with type 2 diabetes means their child has a risk of about 30 percent of getting the disease.

Women who delivered babies weighing over 10 pounds or who had gestational diabetes are at greater risk as are people with obesity, high blood pressure, bad cholesterol or heart disease. A landmark study published in Spring 2001 in The New England Journal of Medicine proved that even the highest risk patients can cut the risk of developing diabetes in half by diet and exercise (walking 30 minutes per day 5 days per week) and losing as little as 10 to 15 pounds.

When it comes to diabetes, knowledge is power. There are multiple steps that can be taken to fight diabetes including learning the risk factors, getting a simple fasting sugar test, discussing a diet and exercise program with your doctor and attending diabetes education classes such as the ones offered in
Tyler and Jacksonville at the Wisenbaker Diabetes Center at Mother Frances Hospital or Trinity Clinic Endocrinology.

If you have diabetes, take control by checking your blood sugars regularly, learning about new medications and insulin, following your cholesterol and blood pressure, and by reading material from reliable organizations such as the American Diabetes Association.

One of my patients said to me, “I hope my children never get diabetes. I don’t want them to spend their lives having to think about what they eat and if they should exercise.” I respectfully disagreed with him. We as a society should be preventing diabetes at all costs, which includes teaching our children to avoid junk food, stop watching TV and computer screens, and get physically active. All of us, whether or not we have diabetes, should think about diet and exercise everyday. I also recommend that no one drink regular soda, which contains about 8 to 10 teaspoons of sugar per can. I also suggest eliminating fruit juices and sugary drinks such as Capri Sun, punch and Sunny Delight.

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Dr. Meg Reitmeyer is an endocrinologist at Trinity Clinic in Tyler. Specializing in endocrinology, the study of the glands and hormones of the body and their related disorders, she is board certified in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism. Dr. Reitmeyer is an Associate of the American College of Physicians, Endocrine Society and American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. She is a member of the American Diabetes Association. Her main office is located at 910 E .Houston, Suite 250 in Tyler.

For more information on diabetes, visit http://www.tmfhs.org or call the Wisenbaker Diabetes Center at (903) 531-4848 or Trinity Clinic Endocrinology at (903) 510-1173. For information on other services provided by Trinity Mother Frances Health System, call TeleCare Plus, your free, 24-hour health information resource at 531-5678, or outside Tyler at 800-535-9799.