Aftermath of the supersized era: Learn more about adult, juvenile diabetes

photo by: Ashley Hocking

A sign at the entrance to Lawrence Memorial Hospital is shown on Jan. 26, 2018.

Dr. Mark Oertel blames the 1990s. It was a time when fast food supersized and the internet took off. The prevalence of obesity and diabetes increased significantly. Many theories exist about why, but many, including Oertel, believe the surge of supersized options at fast-food restaurants and the internet are to blame.

Currently, 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed each year with diabetes, which affects how your body uses sugar and can harm your eyes, heart, blood vessels, nerves and kidneys. Although there are several types of diabetes, the most common is Type 2. Simplistically, the cells in a Type 2 diabetic do not use insulin properly. People who have Type 1 diabetes have a chronic condition in which their pancreas produces little or no insulin.

photo by: LMH Health/Contributed Photo

Dr. Mark Oertel, endocrinologist

Oertel is an endocrinologist at Lawrence Endocrinology, 1130 W. Fourth St., who sees patients with diabetes and prediabetes. He counsels anyone who wants to avoid Type 2 diabetes to:

• Get up and move.

• Eat in moderation.

• Lose weight if you need to.

• Try to avoid extra-sugary foods, such as sodas, candies and sweets.

To help all members of the community learn more about diabetes, the LMH Health Diabetes Education Center is hosting an adult and pediatric diabetes health fair on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the hospital. The event is free and open to the public.

Oertel said the fair would be helpful to anyone.

Adult & Juvenile Diabetes Health Fair

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. The LMH Health Diabetes Education Center is hosting an event for the public to gather information about prevention and management of adult and juvenile diabetes and prediabetes.

Light refreshments will be served at the event, which will be 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14 at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 330 Arkansas St.

Free health screenings include:

• Height, weight and body mass index

• Blood pressure

• Finger stick glucose

“If you’re at risk or if you have concerns and are not diagnosed, we can give you information,” he said.

Among the risk factors for developing diabetes are being overweight, having high blood pressure, having a family history of diabetes or having a history of diabetes during pregnancy, which is called gestational diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, 25 percent of Americans 65 or older have diabetes. But the disease isn’t just for the Medicare set. About 193,000 Americans younger than 20 have diabetes.

To help identify the possibility of diabetes, Oertel asks patients whether they have some of these classic symptoms:

• Increased thirst

• Frequent urination

• Blurred vision

• Fatigue

For some types of diabetes, insulin is a required treatment. Far more often, however, eating well and getting exercise — particularly aerobic exercise — can be enough to control the disease. Controlling diabetes is of utmost importance. Otherwise, it is highly dangerous.

“The main danger is that it can affect your circulation, especially the small blood vessels that are in your kidneys, eyes, heart and brain,” Oertel said. “That can lead to impairment of those organs.”

A common complication from diabetes is neuropathy, which means nerves are not receiving sufficient blood flow. Often, people’s feet become numb or they tingle or burn. Over time, the numbness and the pain can increase in intensity and can spread.

At LMH Health, the Diabetes Education Center helps people with diabetes learn how to control their disease. The center offers individual or group sessions provided by a registered nurse and a dietitian. To participate in the education sessions, your physician must refer you. For more information about the center and the help it can provide, call 785-505-3062.

— Caroline Trowbridge is marketing communications manager for LMH Health, which is a major sponsor of the Lawrence Journal-World’s Health section. She can be reached at


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