LEXINGTON, Ky. — November is National Diabetes Month and according to the University of Kentucky’s Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center, over 440,000 adults have diabetes in Kentucky. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that about 90-95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes are type 2.
People with type 2 diabetes experience insulin resistance, which means that cells don’t respond normally to the hormone. This results in the pancreas making more insulin until it can no longer keep up.
Type 2 diabetes develops most often in people over the age of 45 and, according to UK, many people may be unaware that they even have it. It is recommended that adults get a diabetes or prediabetes screening.
“There are programs available that will help people prevent people with prediabetes from getting full-blown diabetes,” said Dr. Simon Fisher, the director of UK’s Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center. “Certainly, diet and exercise are very important cornerstones of therapy, but in addition to that, see your provider to get tested and treated for diabetes, as well as prediabetes.”
Symptoms for type 2 diabetes are not immediately obvious, which is why experts recommend people get a blood or urine test. Some signs include increased thirst and urination, and having blurry vision.
Unlike type 1 diabetes, there are ways that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by making some life-style changes.
People with type 1 diabetes have a pancreas that either doesn’t make insulin or makes very little of it, according to the CDC. It’s much less common than type 2 diabetes with approximately only 5-10% of people with diabetes being a type 1 diabetic.
In 2016, when Kara Middletown was six years old, she had been dealing with some health issues that led her parents to test her blood-sugar levels. Her father, J.C. Middletown, has type 1 diabetes and her brother, Max, had been diagnosed with the same disease the year before at just 20 months old.
“I know first-hand what they have to go through and it hurts to know the challenges that they face and they’re going to face for the rest of their lives,” said J.C.
Technology and the advancement of medicine have improved the quality of life for people with diabetes. J.C. recalls having to prick his fingers to test his blood-sugar levels and carrying around syringes and insulin. Now he and his children have Dexcom machines that monitor their glucose and insulin pumps that give them doses when needed.
“The continuous glucose-monitoring system that is integrated with your pump now… I can’t imagine living without it at this point,” said J.C.
Because of the technology, Kara and Max can live life without diabetes defining it. Both are active, with 10-year-old Max playing several different sports and Kara, who is now 14, plays volleyball. She also attends Camp Hendon every summer, a camp in Kentucky for kids with diabetes.
“I’ve been going there since the age limit, which is eight, and I have learned new things every year,” said Kara. “I have learned how to manage my diabetes every year and it’s not just about diabetes… I still get to do everyday summer camp things.”
Kara’s parents feel that Camp Hendon empowers kids to learn how to take care of themselves and lead lives just like any other kid.
Camp Hendon currently has a fundraiser going throughout November for Diabetes Awareness Month.