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You Can Live A Healthy Life with Diabetes
Copyright American Osteopathic Association

Ranked as our nation's seventh leading cause of death, diabetes afflicts approximately 8.1 million women in the United States. Often described as the silent killer, diabetes can-if left untreated-lead to kidney failure, gangrene and amputation, blindness, stroke and many other serious health problems.

The two common types of diabetes in the United States are Type I and Type II diabetes.
Type I diabetes is the form of the disease that most often affects young women. Also known as insulin-dependent or immune-mediated diabetes, it destroys the cells in the pancreas that are responsible for producing the hormone insulin. Insulin, which helps control blood sugar levels, is critical for survival. A person without this hormone faces imminent death. People with Type I diabetes get their insulin via infusion pumps.

Although a pill may soon be available, currently insulin cannot be taken in pill form becuae it would be destroyed by the body's digestive process before it would have the chance to work. Most young women who suffer from Type I diabetes are diagnosed with the disease between the ages of 10 and 12.

Type II diabetes, otherwise known as non-insulin dependent diabetes, is the most common form of the disease in the United States. Essentially, Type II diabetes is a build up of glucose in the blood. Type II diabetes usually attacks individuals who are over the age of 45 and are overweight. Both types of diabetes are believed to be inherited genetically, although environmental factors and illnesses can contribute significantly to a person's chances of developing Type II diabetes.

Detecting Type I -The Silent Killer
Robert R. Coleman, D.O., an osteopathic family physician in Alabama, says that one of the most commonly overlooked symptoms of Type I diabetes in young women is increased urination.

"Many of the young women who come into my office with the problems of repeated urinary tract infections or frequent urination think that they are suffering from those conditions because they drink too many carbonated beverages, such as colas, or because they have sexually transmitted diseases," notes Dr. Coleman. "But occasionally, after we conduct tests, we find that Type I diabetes is the actual cause," he adds.

Dr. Coleman goes on to explain that while symptoms may vary amongst various people, common signs and symptoms of Type I diabetes include:

* High levels of sugar in the blood

* High levels of sugar in the urine

* Frequent urination

* Extreme hunger

* Extreme thirst

* Extreme weight loss

* Weakness and exhaustion

* Irritability and mood swings

* Nausea and vomiting

Living a Healthy Life with Diabetes
The osteopathic approach to medicine can be of great value to a young woman diagnosed with diabetes.

"The osteopathic philosophy is to treat the entire patient," explains Dr. Coleman. "That includes taking a very complete family medical history and incorporating dietary and exercise guidelines that will work with the patient's lifestyle."
If you have Type I diabetes, insulin shots, which will allow the body to take in glucose, are a necessity.

Glucose testing is also vital in treating Type I diabetes because it allows the individual to monitor their glucose levels. To test glucose, a drop of blood from the finger is placed on a special test strip. A device called a glucose monitor measures the level of glucose in the blood. Most individuals with Type I diabetes test their glucose levels four times a day.
A proper diet that is low in sugars and fat is also essential to a healthy and productive life for an individual with Type I diabetes. In addition, exercise is a critical part of fighting the effects of diabetes.

"It is imperative, however, that an individual with Type I diabetes seek approval from their physician before going on a diet or exercise regimen," cautions Dr. Coleman. "The physician will work with the patient in deciding how much exercise is too little or too much."

In addition, Dr. Coleman stresses that drinking alcohol and smoking-which is hard enough on the health of people in general- poses particularly serious health risks for people with diabetes. In fact, such indulgences quickly become deadly in anyone suffering from diabetes.

"Smoking and drinking alcohol are known to take a greater toll on the body of a diabetic because these substances may increase urination, deterioration of the kidneys, and multiply the already increased chances of heart disease," explains Dr. Coleman.

Proper nutrition and exercise are also crucial for patients with Type II diabetes. In fact, among people with Type II diabetes, healthy eating habits and sufficient physical activity can often prevent the need to ever have to rely on insulin injections for survival.
As physicians who emphasize prevention and wellness, D.O.s strongly support the U.S. Surgeon General's Healthy People 2010 initiative in the quest to improve quality of life and increase the number of years of a healthy life.

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) reminds you that November 12-18 is National Osteopathic Medicine Week. This year's target group is young women from the ages of 12 to 24. During this time, osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) will work to raise awareness among young women regarding the many issues they face as they strive to maintain healthy lifestyles. In addition, D.O.s plan to educate them on how preventive care can help maintain good health throughout their lives. D.O.s are fully licensed physicians who have additional training that focuses on the body's structure and function as well as its ability to heal itself.

For more information on osteopathic medicine, or to locate a D.O. in your area, call the AOA at 1.800.621.1773, ext. 8252 or visit the AOA's Web site at

Did You Know...?

* Approximately 8.1 million women in the United States have diabetes. That is 8.2 percent of all of the women in the country.

* Birth control pills can affect blood glucose levels and can, therefore adversely affect diabetes control.

* Each year, 12,000 to 24,000 people lose their sight due to diabetes.

* Every year, 19,000 people die from diabetes-related causes.

* Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

Sources: American Osteopathic Association, and American
Diabetes Association

You can contact these organizations for additional information:

American Diabetes Association
1701 North Beauregard Street
Alexandria, VA 22311
1.800.DIABETES (1.800.342.2383)

American Council on Exercise
5820 Oberlin Dr. Suite 102
San Diego, CA 92121

Craig M. Wax, DO, LLC of Mullica Hill, NJ provides information on health, nutrition, family medicine, preventive medicine, wellness, natural treatments, alternative medicine, integrative medicine, osteopathic medicine and just plain common sense.
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