What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a medical condition that occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin in the proper way. Insulin is what our bodies use to change the sugar and starch from the food we eat into energy that keeps us going.

There are four types of diabetes:

  • Pre-diabetes – this happens when the glucose level in your blood is high, but not high enough to be considered Type 2 diabetes.
  • Type 1 diabetes – this is what happens when your body does not produce its own insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes – occurs when your pancreas produces more insulin than it should. After a time, the pancreas cannot maintain such a high level of insulin production and eventually, it will begin to make less or stop making insulin altogether.
  • Gestational diabetes – this condition affects only pregnant women who have high blood sugar levels due to their pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes can cause either high or low blood sugar.

The symptoms of high blood sugar are dizziness, excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and increased urination.

The symptoms of low blood sugar are weakness, sweating, feeling jittery, rapid heartbeat, and hunger.

Many people show no symptoms and therefore, are unaware that they have the disease.

How do I know if I have Diabetes?

In a physical exam, your doctor will do a complete medical history and routine tests to see if you have any conditions that may indicate the beginnings of diabetes. If you have the symptoms of diabetes, your doctor will do a special blood test to determine if you have the disease. There are two types of tests. A Fasting Glucose Test (FGT) or an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) can show if you are diabetic. Because the FPG is faster and less expensive, It is usually the test doctors prefer.

What are the Treatments for Diabetes?

In many cases, diabetes can be controlled with diet and exercise. Sometimes, medication is necessary to regulate your blood sugar level. Your doctor will advise you on the need for medication.

Monitoring your blood sugar levels is an important part of treatment. A balanced, healthy diet is very important in managing diabetes. Your diet should include lean meat and fish, whole grains, and vegetables. It is wise to limit alcohol consumption too. All of this contributes to helping you control the amount of carbohydrates in your system. Carbohydrates have the greatest effect on blood sugar levels. Losing any extra pounds will also help you to manage your condition.

Are there any risks associated with diabetes?

Having high blood sugar over a long time can cause other health complications. Damage to your kidneys, eyes blood vessels, and nerves can result from untreated diabetes.

Other complications from diabetes are difficulty in healing wounds and dental or gum disease.

How should I manage diabetes?

Your doctor can help. He will tell you if you need medication and what diet to follow.

  • Exercise: Exercise plays a major role in controlling diabetes. Try to exercise every day for 30 minutes.
  • Stop smoking. Since diabetes affects your blood vessels, smoking is especially hazardous.
  • Take an aspirin. If your doctor agrees, a low-dose aspirin once a day can help reduce the risk of a heart attack. 
  • Routine testing: Your doctor may recommend a few yearly tests to help you monitor possible complications of diabetes. Keeping an eye on your cholesterol level and blood pressure is essential to your health.
  • Testing for protein in your urine can detect the early signs of kidney damage and an annual eye exam by an ophthalmologist can determine any eye conditions you may be starting to develop. 
  • Keep your immunizations up to date. Diabetes can affect your immune system and your ability to ward off other severe diseases such as influenza and pneumonia.

Diabetes Risk Test

There are over 23 million people in the United States with diabetes. Almost 6 million of those don’t know it! Take this test to see if you are at risk of having or developing diabetes.

  • How old are you? – Your risk increases starting at 40 years of age. Over half of all those diagnosed with diabetes are over 55.
  • Do your parents or siblings have diabetes? – A family history of diabetes increases your chances of having diabetes.
  • What race or ethnicity best describes you? – Diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure? – High blood pressure can increase your risk.
  • What is your weight and height? – Maintaining a proper weight compared to your height is an important factor. This is determined by calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI).
  • How active are you? – Any activity is better than none. If possible try to exercise 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week.

If you have diabetes and/or think you are a risk of having diabetes please contact our office today to schedule an appointment!