Researchers urge tuberculosis testing for individuals with type 2 diabetes in outbreak areas

Recently, researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that the growing number of individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may affect the control of tuberculosis (TB) outbreaks in certain areas of the country.

In their study published in the journal Bulletin of the World Health Organization, the scientists evaluated more than 230 TB patients living in Texas or areas of Mexico that were close to the U.S. border. They found that many of these participants also had type 2 diabetes, although some subjects were unaware of their diagnosis.

According to the study's results, people with type 2 diabetes had a risk of contracting TB that was as much as five times higher than that of non-diabetics.

The researchers said they hypothesized that type 2 diabetes suppresses a person's immune responses, and therefore, his or her body cannot fight off TB bacteria as well as an otherwise healthy individual may be able to.

"Physicians should be screening at-risk diabetic patients for TB and patients should be aware of their diabetes status. Opportunities are being missed for patients and physicians to work together to manage both diseases," said lead researcher Blanca Restrepo, PhD.

The investigation also highlighted the importance of diabetes testing. The findings indicated that 20 percent of the diabetic participants from Mexico had not yet been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the onset of the study, compared to all of the American subjects who had been properly identified as diabetic by their physicians.

People who have type 2 diabetes have to be particularly health conscious. This is because even small changes in one's well-being may have a significant impact on diabetics.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that individuals who effectively manage their blood sugar levels visit their physician between two and four times each year, while people who have unstable blood glucose levels should make these trips at least four times annually.