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Tom Hanks' Type 2 Diabetes Is Manageable with Proper Care

Oct 08, 2013

While Tom Hanks was visiting "Late Show with David Letterman" on Monday, October 7, he revealed some big news about his health. Hanks has been dealing with high blood sugar numbers since he was 36 years old. He said that his doctor told him, "You've graduated. You've got type 2 diabetes, young man." "My doctor said, 'Look, if you can weigh as much as you weighed in high school, you will essentially be completely healthy and not have type 2 diabetes,'" Hanks said during the interview. "And I said to her, 'Well, I'm gonna' have type 2 diabetes."

"If diagnosed early, type 2 diabetes can be controlled through losing weight, improved nutrition, and exercise," says Debra Lynn Simmons, MD, professor of medicine at University of Utah and director of clinical affairs at the Utah Diabetes and Endocrinology Center. "However, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease and, over time, these measures may not be enough to control diabetes. In some cases, oral or injected medication, in addition to insulin, must be added to a nutritional and exercise plan."

"Poorly or untreated diabetes could lead to kidney failure, amputation, blindness, heart attack, or stroke," says Simmons. "For these reasons, it is very important for people with diabetes to work with their health care team to get excellent control of diabetes, which includes not only blood sugar but also cholesterol and blood pressure control."

Eight Things You Can Do if You Have Type 2 Diabetes

  1. Work with your health care team to set goals to manage your diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
  2. Follow diet and exercise plans and take prescribed medication.
  3. Learn to safely dispose of medical equipment.
  4. If you smoke, quit. Smoking makes diabetes complications more likely by damaging the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Talk to your healthcare provider if you need help to stop smoking.
  5. Check with your pharmacist or healthcare provider before taking over-the-counter medication.
  6. Get vaccinations for influenza and pneumonia as recommended by your healthcare provider.
  7. Schedule regular examinations and screenings for complications of diabetes as recommended by your healthcare provider.
  8. Wear identification that says you have diabetes.

Call your health care provider if you have type 2 diabetes and:

  • Have a fever or signs of an infection,
  • Have nausea and vomiting, and you cannot keep down liquids or foods,
  • Have high or low blood glucose that you cannot explain,
  • Cannot afford your diabetes medication and equipment, and
  • Are feeling depressed.

We Are Here to Help

The Utah Diabetes and Endocrinology Center (UDEC) provides individualized medical care with thorough management of blood glucose, the latest diagnostic services and multidisciplinary services for management of diabetes and its complications. For appointments, call 801-581-7761.