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Diabetes is the seventh deadliest disease in the United States, but it can be managed with diet, exercise and medication.

More than 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes -- a chronic disease in which a person’s body does not produce or properly process sugar.  Left untreated, diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, blindness, and a number of life-threatening medical complications.  Dr. Michael Jakoby, associate professor and chief of endocrinology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, describes Type 2 diabetes.

“Diabetes mellitus is a condition characterized by high circulating blood glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes is caused by a relative lack of insulin.  Patients make some insulin which prevents ketoacidosis, but they don’t make enough to prevent high blood sugars.” 

Dr. Jakoby says the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes is increasing in the U.S. and around the world because of the increase in obesity, especially among young people. Other risk factors are a family history for the disease, weight gain, lack of physical activity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.  Dr. Jakoby suggests some treatments to control blood sugar.

“There are many treatment options with individuals with type 2 diabetes. There are several different types of oral medications.  Some examples of common drugs include Metformin. There is a family of drugs called sulfonylureas, which have been around since the 1950s and increase insulin release.”

Dr. Jakoby says that a healthy diet and moderate exercise will help control or even prevent the disease.  And newer technology helps make disease management easier. He advises anyone who has one or more of the risk factors to see their personal physician so they can be checked for diabetes.

Ruth Slottag