Chesser gives Rotary information about diabetes

Published 9:18 am Friday, August 10, 2012

JANE CHESSER, the infection control director at Memorial Hospital and Manor, spoke to the Bainbridge Rotary Club on Tuesday about diabetes symptoms and treatment.

Jane Chesser, the infection control director at Memorial Hospital and Manor, told the Bainbridge Rotary Club on Tuesday that diabetes can come in a variety of types and levels of severity.

Chesser said it is likely that 16 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, although only 8 million have been diagnosed. There are two types of diabetes — type 1 and type 2.

Those who have type 1 diabetes have bodies that produce little, or no insulin, which is a hormone that helps move sugar from blood into cells. This sugar is needed by the body’s cells for energy. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day, and this type is prevalent primarily in children and young adults, but can occur in older adults.

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People with type 2 diabetes may have bodies that produce some insulin, but it is either not enough or not working properly. Most people with diabetes — about 90 percent — have type 2 diabetes, and usually those patients are older or overweight, Chesser said.

Chesser explained that some common symptoms of diabetes include being tired all the time, being regularly thirsty or hungry, experiencing sudden weight loss, or having blurry vision. However, she noted that only a physician can safely diagnose if a patient has diabetes or not.

Some of the dangers of untreated diabetes include damage to blood vessels and nerves, heart attack, stroke, infections, and diseases of the eye, kidney and nervous system.

Chesser said that most physicians recommend a “three-prong” approach to combating diabetes. Those three attack methods are: a nutritious meal plan, a physical activity plan, and safely managing weight and blood pressure.

She added that many diabetes patients can fight the disease effectively just by making small lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier and losing just a bit of weight.

“It’s the small changes that make the difference,” she said. “Just losing 10 to 20 pounds can make a tremendous difference on your blood sugar level.”

Chesser cautioned that people should always consult their physicians before beginning any new strenuous physical activity.