Understanding symptoms of diabetes

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Hello, my name is Nancy Hartung. I am a registered nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator at Sanford Aberdeen Medical Center.

Helping people manage their diabetes has been my passion, both personally and professionally, since our son was diagnosed with type I diabetes (previously known as juvenile diabetes) in 2000 when he was four years old. Since then, I have become an expert in diabetes education.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), diabetes affects 25.8 million Americans and is the leading cause of new blindness in our country. It is estimated there is another 79 million people in our country who have pre-diabetes. Type 2 diabetes (previously known as adult onset diabetes) accounts for 85-90% of all cases of diabetes.

Total costs of diagnosed diabetes in the United States in 2012 reached $245 billion. That equates to $176 billion for direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity.

In 2010 6.9% of South Dakotans, 17 years and older (almost 42,000), had been told they had type I or Type 2 diabetes. An additional 13,940 people in South Dakota have undiagnosed diabetes. Based on the CDC estimates, more than 200,000 people in South Dakota have pre-diabetes.

Below is a list of the typical signs and symptoms of diabetes:

• Increased thirst

• Increased urination

• Unexplained weight loss

• Other signs & symptoms include: Blurred vision, fatigue, increased hunger and sores that don’t heal.

Onset of symptoms with type 2 diabetes are slow and can take months or years to notice, while onset of symptoms for type 1 diabetes are typically very sudden and can become an emergency situation quickly.

If you notice any of these signs and symptoms in yourself or a loved one, please see your healthcare provider. Diabetes is a progressive disease and when left unmanaged, can cause devastating complications.

Another aspect of my passion for diabetes is Camp Gilbert. Camp Gilbert is a week-long summer camp held at NeSoDak Camp on Lake Enemy Swim near Waubay for kids ages 8-18 with type I diabetes. I have been involved with Camp Gilbert for the last 12 years. Camp Gilbert is not affiliated with any hospital organization and is an independent, non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Camp Gilbert Inc. received its incorporation in 2007.

Camp Gilbert has been serving children with diabetes from rural South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and beyond for more than 20 years. Our mission is to educate children with diabetes about their disease in an environment where the child can have fun and be safe. Until There’s a Cure…There’s Camp Gilbert.

When it comes to diabetes, there are countless ways you can become involved in helping the cause. You can be an advocate for you and your family and friends who have diabetes, pre-diabetes or are at risk for developing diabetes, by encouraging a healthy lifestyle. That includes maintaining a healthy weight, eating healthy and exercising. You could also join national organizations like the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF). Or, if you’d rather keep it a little closer to home, you could offer a donation to help children with diabetes attend Camp Gilbert in the summer. Every action counts. Now is the time to take a stand in the fight against diabetes, not just in rural South Dakota, but across the entire map.

For more information about Camp Gilbert Inc. or the diabetes services offered at Sanford Aberdeen Diabetes Center, please call (605) 626-4380 or e-mail me at nancy.hartung@sanfordhealth.org.