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Readers' Type 2 Diabetes Questions Answered

Following her admission that she has type 2 diabetes, Paula Deen’s become a hot topic of conversation and debate—as has her condition. We asked our Facebook fans if they had any questions about type 2 diabetes. WebMD’s Brunilda Nazario, MD, answers them below:

My father passed from diabetes and was 45 and did not even know he had it…why did the military not detect this in his years in the service?

Nazario: I can’t answer this question for you; there are many causes of diabetes and the risk factors for type 2 diabetes are widely known [ethnicity, race, weight, etc ]. In the absence of any risk factors, screening for diabetes should begin at age 45. Typically a fasting glucose of greater than 126 makes the diagnosis. Newer and more convenient tests that don’t require fasting can be done and help determine the need for treatment. In Type 2, symptoms go on for a while before a diagnosis is made. During this time people become accustomed to the symptoms: excess urination, tiredness, thirst, etc. Review your risks and see if screening is needed to help you prevent or reduce your risks of diabetes.

How can we reverse it naturally?

Nazario: Diabetes should be primarily managed ‘naturally’. The cornerstone of treatment are changes in lifestyle, weight loss for anyone with extra pounds, regular physical activity, eating right (low calorie, lean meats, fresh fruits and veggies, lower salt), and relaxation to reduce stress.

Is type 2 diabetes hereditary? My father was diagnosed at age 54. What are the chances of me getting it?

Nazario: Type 2 diabetes is not hereditary, you can’t inherit the disease. However, you do inherit many of the genes that are tied to a higher risk of developing the condition. If someone in your family has diabetes, you too are at a greater risk for diabetes. Talk with your doctor and see what other risks you have and whether you need early screening. As we age we are more prone to be intolerant of many things, including carbohydrates, and our risk of diabetes increases. The lifestyle changes needed to reduce your risks of diabetes are easy and safe to be followed by anyone: regular exercise, a balanced diet with fresh fruits and veggies, and dropping extra pounds won’t hurt anyone.

Please be sure to identify the difference between type 1 and 2. It’s extremely frustrating as a parent of a type 1 to constantly compare people like Paula to our children. Our kids are not overweight; our kids can eat what they please. Our kids cannot control their diabetes with lifestyle. Type 1 is no one’s fault with no cure.

Nazario: Great point. Kids and adults alike can have Type 1 diabetes. It’s a different disease with completely different treatments and goal strategies. Type 1 is the absence of insulin, the result of an attack of the body’s immune system destroying insulin-producing cells. It’s seen more frequently in kids with diabetes and as of today there is no cure. People with Type 1 must inject insulin daily; they can never use pills to control their diabetes. Research in this area varies but is distinct from that of Type 2. It focuses on restoring insulin-producing cells and technologies to help make lives of people with this devastating disease a little easier with new insulin delivery methods. Type 2 diabetes is not related to the absence of insulin but rather its ineffectiveness in decreasing blood sugars. No one really knows what causes it but there are several risk factors that increase the chance of developing the disease. Type 2 is seen more frequently in adults with diabetes but we are also seeing Type 2 diabetes in many children due to the more sedentary lifestyles we live and the growing obesity epidemic in kids. Lifestyle changes such as weight loss and regular exercise help improve the blood sugars in Type 2 diabetes.

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