Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body is not able to control the amount of glucose (a form of sugar) in the blood. Glucose is needed by the body to produce energy, but too much glucose leads to serious problems. Glucose levels are normally controlled by the hormone insulin, which is produced in the pancreas. With diabetes, there is either not enough insulin produced or the body is unable to use the insulin that is produced. There are two main types of diabetes, type1 and type 2. Type 2 is also called non-insulin dependent diabetes and is the most common type (about ninety percent to ninety-five percent of people with diabetes). It often affects people over age 40.
FREQUENT SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Many people don't know they have diabetes. There may be no symptoms or symptoms develop gradually.
Fatigue and excess thirst.
General ill feeling, increased appetite, weight loss, and frequent urination.
Slow healing of cuts and bruises.
Impotence (erectile dysfunction).
Increased risk of infections, such as urinary-tract infections and yeast infections of the skin, mouth, or vagina.
The pancreas may produce enough insulin, but, for unknown reasons, the body is unable to use it effectively (insulin resistance). After several years, insulin production decreases and glucose builds up in the blood.
RISK INCREASES WITH
Family history of diabetes
Gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy).
Overweight, especially with fat around the abdomen.
High blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Sedentary lifestyle (lack of physical activity).
Metabolic syndrome (a set of conditions).
African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Asian Americans.
Control weight (lose weight if you are overweight). Exercise regularly. Eat a healthy diet. Control high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
Blood glucose levels can be managed with treatment.
Your health care provider will do a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms. Tests include glucose blood and urine studies. A glucose tolerance test may be done. Follow-up includes hemoglobin A1C test. It shows the blood glucose levels for the past three months.
Type 2 diabetes is treated with lifestyle changes (exercise and diet) and drug therapy, if needed. A diabetes educator can help you learn to manage your diabetes.
Learn all you can about diabetes. Learn the techniques of self-monitoring of blood sugar and monitor regularly. Learn the signs and symptoms of high and low blood glucose levels and what to do. Keep glucose tablets handy for treating low blood sugar, if needed.
Get regular foot care by a foot care provider (e.g., podiatrist) and regular eye check ups.
Stop smoking. Find a way to quit that works for you.
Wear a medical alert-type bracelet or neck tag to indicate you have diabetes and the drugs you take.
Get medical care for any infection.
To learn more: American Diabetes Association, 1701 North Beauregard St., Alexandria, VA 22311, (800) 342-2383; website: www.diabetes.org.
One or more types of oral antidiabetic drugs may be prescribed. Your health care provider will discuss the options, the benefits, and the risks with you. Insulin may be prescribed if oral drugs are not effective.
Aspirin, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and drugs for high blood pressure may be prescribed.
Daily exercise helps control diabetes. Follow your health care provider's advice about an exercise plan.
A healthy diet is part of treatment. Don't skip meals. A dietitian can help you with meal plans.
NOTIFY OUR OFFICE IF
You or a family member has symptoms of diabetes.
After diagnosis, any symptoms cause you concern or problems occur with glucose control.