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March 26, 2024

‘Diabetes Alert Day:’ What to know

‘Diabetes Alert Day:’ What to know

“Diabetes Alert Day” is March 26, a one day “wake-up call” that focuses on the seriousness of diabetes. One nurse offers insight into the diagnosis.

By TJ Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are more than 38 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes. That’s more than 11 percent of the population.

IU Health Pediatric Diabetes Care and Education Specialist Cindy Youngman responded to five myths about diabetes. Youngman grew up in northern New Jersey and obtained her associate degree in nursing from SUNY Rockand, NY and her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Western Governors University. She has been with IU Health for three years and works at the Riley Pediatric Outpatient Clinic in Fort Wayne.

Youngman said she has wanted to be a nurse since she was a child because she wanted to help people and she finds medicine fascinating.

“I became interested in becoming a pediatric diabetes educator when my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1999 at the age of 8. Even though I was a nurse, gave injections, and checked blood sugars regularly on my unit, it was still an overwhelming diagnosis,” said Youngman. “I thought about the people who have no medical background trying to learn about diabetes and wanted to help. It has become my passion and one of the greatest joys of my life.”

Following are five myths about diabetes that Youngman addressed:

1) Eating sugar can cause type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder and is not caused by anything the child has eaten or the parents have fed them.

2) A person with diabetes is handicapped/disabled.

We have patients who play all kinds of sports and are in many different types of activities. They can grow up to do whatever they want. People with diabetes have become professional football players, race car drivers, entertainers, swimmers, actors, and more. We encourage our kids to reach for the stars.

3) People with type 1 diabetes have to be on a special diet.

We encourage a healthy diet, as we would for anyone. If there are special treats, like ice cream, they need to cover it with insulin.

4) "You have diabetes? But you look like you are in shape.”

Many people do not realize there are different types of diabetes. Additionally, it is possible to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes even though the person is at a healthy weight.

5) People with type 2 diabetes brought it on themselves.

Some people think that being overweight is the cause of type 2 diabetes. Family history is a large contributing factor as well as age, race, and other conditions that play a role in whether someone is diagnosed with diabetes. Weight gain is only one risk factor.

For Youngman, a typical day may be meeting with a child and their parents. She described meeting with one family she’d never met before.

“The parents were upset at the start of the visit because it was possible that DCS might get involved. I reassured them that there was no judgement and we all agreed that we were working towards the same goal - improved diabetes care, said Youngman. She helped the family develop a plan and followed up with them again days later. “The day before the appointment with the provider, they were feeling anxious and called to review the blood sugar data, so they would be prepared for the visit. After the appointment they called again to say they had a great visit and were so pleased,” said Youngman.

With her guidance, they were counting carbs, giving insulin as directed, and the blood sugars were improving. “I could hear the excitement, happiness, and pride in their voices. They asked me to continue to stay in touch with them. I am so honored to be a part of their journey and to be able to help other families as well.”

Youngman is married and is the mother to two boys. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with family, growing flowers in her garden, photography, cooking, and going to farmers markets.

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