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Many with diabetes are undiagnosed

Following is information from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Diabetes is a chronic disease of the pancreas. There are two major types of diabetes: type 1, an autoimmune disease also known as juvenile diabetes, and type 2, a metabolic disorder also known as adult onset diabetes.

Type 1 is caused by an autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It usually strikes in childhood but lasts a lifetime. People with type 1 must take insulin through injections or an insulin pump to live.

People with type 2 produce insulin, but their bodies are unable to use it effectively. Type 2 usually is diagnosed in adulthood and does not always require insulin injections. However, increased obesity has led to a recent 'epidemic' in cases of type 2 diabetes in young adults and children younger than 10.

Taking insulin does not cure diabetes or prevent the possibility of its devastating complications, which include kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, amputation, heart attack and stroke.

Seventeen million Americans have diabetes, but 5 million remain undiagnosed. It afflicts 150 million people in the world, and the World Health Organization estimates that the number will reach 300 million by 2025.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, adult blindness and nontraumatic amputations, as well as a leading cause of nerve damage, stroke and heart attacks. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than someone without the disease. Life expectancy for people with diabetes is shortened by an average of 15 years.

Diabetes is an expensive disease, costing the U.S. government more than $105 billion in health care costs each year.

Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include thirst, frequent urination, drowsiness or lethargy, increased appetite, sudden weight loss, sudden vision changes and a fruity odor on the breath. Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include any symptoms of Type 1, recurring skin problems or hard-to-heal skin and tingling in hands and feet.

For more information, visit www.jdrf.org.