The Challenge Of Being An Athlete With Diabetes
Diabetes And The Pro Athlete
As the son of a dad who passed away at a young age from complications of Type 1 diabetes, and the father of a Type 1 diabetic son, this topic hits home a lot closer than most. It also turns out that Jay Cutler, the Chicago Bears quarterback, is Type 1 diabetic. I am a great fan of “Da Bears“.
Ken Rosenthal wrote a great article on this topic for Foxsports.com back in 2010. I recommend this article to anyone who is diabetic, knows someone who is diabetic, or is just a great sports fan. Ken Rosenthal interviews pro athletes with diabetes to get an inside view of how these athletes are able to perform at such a high level while being an athlete with diabetes.
One of the challenges these pro athletes face being an athlete with diabetes, is a diabetic’s body recovers slower from injury than an otherwise healthy body. This makes it harder for them to bounce back from injury and keep up with their playing schedule. Also, this makes it harder for athletes with diabetes to get drafted into the majors despite their obvious talent. Even when they get drafted, the chances of getting lower pay or being the first one cut from the team when the budget gets tight looms large.
These athletes have to keep testing their blood sugar regularly, up to 15 times a day to keep from collapsing due to low blood sugar. In his article, Ken Rosenthal tells of a pro baseball player collapsing during a press interview.
However, despite these challenges, several diabetic pro athletes have continued to excel in professional sports. If managed well, diabetes needs not be a handicap. As you can see, some of the famous athletes in the slideshow had long and successful careers. Some of them might surprise you, like the great Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Types of diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Only 5-10 percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Millions of Americans have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and many more are unaware they are at high risk. Some groups have a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than others. Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, as well as the aged population.
In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy. When you eat food, the body breaks down all of the sugars and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can lead to diabetes complications.
Source: American Diabetes Association