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Diabetes: Lifelong, but controllable

November 22, 2010

A registered nurse for 30 years, Theresa Walton has cared for her share of people suffering with diabetes.

And working at both South Tama Middle and High Schools, she oversees a lot of children, some of whom deal with the disease.

"There are a few that I monitor their blood sugars and make sure they are taking their insulin," she said. "They have to be watched daily."

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For a diabetic, bread, which is high in carbohydrates, can make one’s blood sugar rise quickly. For dietary suggestions, visit online at or call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES.

According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 24 million children and adults in the U.S. have the disease. Its diagnosis is characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body's ability to produce and/or use insulin.

There are two main categories of diabetes - Type 1 and Type 2. With Type 1, the pancreas no longer produces insulin, and various symptoms may include frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue and irritability.

With Type 2, the body's cells no longer use insulin right away, and eventually the pancreas may lose its ability to make enough of it. Its symptoms can include any from Type 1, in addition to frequent infections, blurred vision, cuts and bruises that slowly heal, tingling/numbness in the hands and feet, or recurring skin, gum and bladder infections.

Before people develop Type 2, they almost always have what is known as pre-diabetes, entailing blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not enough to be diagnosed as full-blown diabetes - and more than 57 million Americans have it.

Research has shown that some long-term damage to the body, especially the heart and circulatory system, may already be occurring during the pre-diabetes stage.

The bad news is that diabetes itself can lead to further health complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, and amputation if not managed.

The good news? It can be treated to help people live normally.

With November being American Diabetes Month, It is important to recognize that one can maintain a lifestyle complete with exercise and healthy eating habits to minimize the risk of getting it.

Being pre-diabetic herself, Walton said she personally tests her own blood sugar several times each day, gets regular checkups, and goes by dietary recommendations that those with diabetes would follow.

"Take bread, for example - some varieties may not have actual sugar in it, but they convert to a type of sugar in the body, just as some vegetables do, so it's a matter of several things like watching your carbs, eating fresh foods and portion control," she said. "We've had a lot of advancements over the years with treating it and I've gotten my own back to a normal level, but people need to do better at taking care of themselves."

For more information on diabetes, how to control it and dietary suggestions, call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES or visit online at


Contact Tammy R. Lawson at 641-753-6611 or



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