Reporting Dr. Maria Simbra
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – About 26 million Americans have diabetes and the vast majority have a kind called Type Two.
However, some are misdiagnosed and actually have Type One.
In fact, this is what happened to Marc Bieber at a routine doctor visit.
“He did a sugar test right there and it was like 800,” Bieber said “He prescribed me the pills at first, and then more pills, and then it did not work.”
Normal blood sugar is around 100. Because Marc was 35-years-old at the time, he was diagnosed with Type Two, sometimes called Adult Onset Diabetes.
“Occasionally, someone will come in and they don’t have the classic features of someone with Type Two,” Dr. Jennifer Holst said. “Some reports show up to 10 percent of people who develop diabetes as an adult could have a Type One diabetes.”
For instance, they may not have a family history of diabetes. They might be on pills, but their blood sugar stays high or they’re losing weight, and still have high blood sugar.
“Sometimes people can live five or 10 years without getting into major trouble before the diagnosis is made. But, things are just not going well,” Dr. Holst said.
“The last time I left the hospital I had a tremor in my hand and my speech is kind of slurred now,” Bieber said.
Type Two is brought on by obesity and inactivity, leading your body to respond poorly to insulin, which is a hormone important to processing sugar and carbohydrates.
Diet, exercise, and pills to lower blood sugar often help. Insulin can be added if these measures aren’t cutting it.
Type One is an autoimmune disorder. Your body’s immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. People with this condition need insulin injections to survive. Pills, diet and exercise won’t work.
Marc found out he had Type One just as he was applying for an insulin pump to help with his hard to control blood sugars.
For unknown reasons, cases of Type One are becoming more common, even among adults. This form used to be called Juvenile Diabetes because it was mostly kids who had it. In adults, the illness has a more gradual progression, which can make it harder to spot.
The danger of being misdiagnosed and not on insulin is that your blood sugars could be out of control for a long time.
Chronically high blood sugar puts your organs at risk – your kidneys, your eyes, your heart, your nerves and brain.