Health officials are trying to get you to pay attention to a health condition that's getting more urgent each year.
As more Americans become overweight, more are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes where the insulin in your body doesn't process sugars effectively.
There's another group of people being diagnosed in large numbers right here in the metro. But in this case, we're talking about type 1 diabetes, in which the body produces little, if any, insulin. It also is not brought on by obesity and usually occurs in children.
Seventeen-year-old Rehan Abdi of Bloomington is in that group.
"When I was 11 years old, I felt really sick… I drink a lot of water and go to the bathroom a lot," she said.
It’s a good thing Abdi was living in the United States when she started showing those symptoms of type 1 diabetes. She may not be alive today if she had still been living in her native Somalia.
"In Somalia, if you go to a hospital and feel sick, they [are] just going to assume that you have other sicknesses," Abdi said.
Dr. Michael Ainslie of the International Diabetes Center at Park Nicollet says that’s true. “They have no treatment for diabetes, basically, so the kids who develop diabetes over there waste away and die and they just have no way to take care of them.”
Ainslie says Minnesota's Somali immigrant population has brought an influx of new patients, who previously knew very little, if anything, about diabetes. He says, “Once they get on insulin, they usually do fine.”
Abdi now checks her blood sugar many times a day and uses a pump which she wears on her waistband to deliver insulin to her body. She laughs when she says, "It’s funny. All my friends think I have a cell phone. They go, ‘Why [do] you have a big cell phone? You should get a small one.’"
She's just glad doctors here know how to make the right call. "I’m thankful. My mom's happy I'm here, that I get treatment."
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