Army Maj. (Dr.) Gayle McDermott, chief of internal medicine at Landstuhl.

Army Maj. (Dr.) Gayle McDermott, chief of internal medicine at Landstuhl. ()

LANDSTUHL, Germany — A recent rise in the number of patients at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes has caught the attention of doctors here.

The increase at Landstuhl echoes an ongoing stateside rise in diabetes that is being deemed an epidemic, said Army Maj. (Dr.) Gayle McDermott, chief of internal medicine at Landstuhl.

Older officers and noncommissioned officers and retirees are the ones generally coming to Landstuhl with Type 2 diabetes, McDermott said.

Diabetes is closely related to age, race, diet, exercise, weight and lifestyle.

“We’re still dealing with Americans here, and Americans bring with them the same habits they have,” McDermott said. “… Americans pretty much will eat the same at home as they do here, and part of it is the high-fat diet. I think the same trend of obesity is the case — certainly more so I would say with the non-active-duty folks.”

Almost 21 million people in the United States have diabetes. While an estimated 14.6 million have been diagnosed, some 6.2 million people are unaware that they have the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association. Also, minorities are more apt to develop diabetes than whites.

The recent U.S. rise in diabetes closely parallels “the epidemic” of obesity in the States, McDermott said.

“Obesity is very, very closely tied to insulin resistance and the development of Type 2 diabetes,” she said.

Diabetes is the leading cause of adult blindness and amputation among adults and accounts for a high percent of kidney failure in adults, said Col. (Dr.) Lynn Abrams, an endocrinologist at Landstuhl.

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include frequent urination, dry mouth and blurry vision, Abrams said.

“Certainly by that point, you may already have complications,” McDermott said. “You’ve probably had it for years. You’ve already probably developed complications from the disease. You’re at the point where treatment is possible, but you’re getting to a point where it’s harder to control.”

An online test is available at for those who think they may have diabetes. The test takes about a minute.

Those who score either intermediate or high risk should have a medical screening for diabetes, McDermott said.

As of 2002, diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, McDermott said.

“It’s not something that should be ignored,” she said.

What is Type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes results when the body fails to properly use insulin, combined with relative insulin deficiency. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas and needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy necessary for daily life. Most Americans diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes results from the body’s failure to produce insulin, the hormone that “unlocks” the cells of the body, allowing glucose to enter and fuel them. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously called juvenile diabetes.

Source: American Diabetes Association

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