There’s a joke that’s been shared on social media lately, and it goes something like this:
Q: Johnny has 32 candy bars. He eats 28 of them. What does he have now?
A: Diabetes. Johnny has diabetes.
Okay, the joke does elicit a chuckle for cleverness (what grade would you give the sassy kid who answered the problem this way?). But it grossly oversimplifies the origins of diabetes.
3 main types of diabetes
- The most common type of diabetes is Type 2 – about 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide, according to a just-released study by the International Diabetes Federation. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body can’t process blood sugar. Risk factors for getting Type 2 include heredity, age, race, and obesity. So yes, Johnny might become diabetic if he makes a habit of overeating candy and becomes overweight. But it’s not the only possible cause.
- Type 1 diabetes used to be known as juvenile diabetes. This type involves a malfunction of the pancreas; it can’t produce the hormone insulin, which plays a large role in regulating blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes is thought to be an autoimmune disease and there’s no way to prevent it.
- Gestational diabetes is in most cases temporary, affecting some women while they’re pregnant.
An important 4th type of diabetes
We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about something called prediabetes. Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are a little too close to diabetic range for comfort. In most cases prediabetes will lead to diabetes. In 2015, more than 84 million people in the United States had prediabetes. Prediabetes can be reversed by getting back to a healthy weight. And all types of diabetes can be controlled through proper diet and exercise (and daily insulin injections for Type 1).
Why we care
We’re focusing on diabetes because it’s National Diabetes Awareness month and diabetic foot care is an important part of the overall management of the disease. Board-certified podiatrist Kenneth R. Wilhelm, DPM of Clifton Foot & Ankle Center treats the effects of diabetes on his patients’ feet every week at his office in Centreville, VA. Make an appointment with Dr. Wilhelm online or give us a call at (703) 996-3000.