CHICAGO (WLS) -- World Diabetes Day was recently recognized, where the goal is to raise awareness of diabetes as a global public health issue.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 38 million Americans have diabetes. As many as 95% of that number have type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Joshua Vieth, is the Director of Research at JDRF, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He explained the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
"Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, involve an inability for insulin to regulate a person's blood sugar," Dr. Vieth said. "And that's really where the similarities end. As two different diseases, they have two different causes, different effects and actually different treatment options. (Type 2) is generally associated with aging, genetics, a sedentary lifestyle and obesity."
Dr. Vieth said for many, it's possible to prevent type 2 diabetes with diet, lifestyle and medication.
"For type 1 diabetes there's no way to prevent its onset. And currently, there is no cure," Dr. Vieth said.
He said it's actually an autoimmune attack on the cells that produce insulin.
14-year-old Sam Wolfe was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes five years ago. His mother Emilee said it came as a "complete shock" to the family.
"A lot of the symptoms were kind of easy to overlook," Emilee said. "He was really thirsty, I noticed him getting up to go to the bathroom multiple times in the middle of the night. And I'm embarrassed to say I kind of overlooked them until he was in the middle of a hockey tournament and he came to me and said, 'Mom, I don't think I can play in my hockey game. My stomach is hurting so badly.' I looked at him and I think that's when I knew something was really wrong."
Sam went to see his doctor and was given the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. He was admitted to the hospital for three days. Doctors spent two days stabilizing him. The third day they taught the family how to care for him.
"Every time I eat, I have to dose which can cause me to almost put too much insulin into my body or too little which can cause me to have to need sugar or more insulin," Sam said. "There are also a lot of other things that can cause my number to go low or high."
"Often, people with diabetes don't feel any symptoms. And in the best case scenario they are diagnosed by screening in a doctor's office," said Dr. Rasa Kazlauskaite, an associate professor specializing in Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes at Rush University Medical Center. "It's very important to pay attention and to prevent development of type 2 diabetes."
Dr. Kazlauskaite said family history is a big predictor of who may be at risk. The CDC offers an online test for you to assess your risk. While most type 2 patients are over the age of 45, there has been a rise in cases among children and young adults.
The JDRF One Dream Gala will take place December 9. It raises money for diabetes research.
To take the CDC diabetes test: https://www.cdc.gov/prediabetes/takethetest/
For more information on Rush University Medical Center diabetes care: https://www.rush.edu/services/diabetes-care
For more information on JDRF: https://www.jdrf.org/illinois/