Diabetes

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Recently Answered

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    AStacy Wiegman, PharmD, Pharmacy, answered
    It’s important to take your diabetes medicine to keep your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. When blood sugar soars out of control or remains high, it can damage blood vessels and nerves throughout your body. High blood sugar increases your risk for heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, digestive problems, dental conditions and amputation of a limb.
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    AWilliam Lee Dubois, Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, answered
    Different foods will have different effects on your blood sugar, and each of us reacts differently. You can quite literally test how various foods affect your body and your blood sugar by simply testing before and two hours after any meal to see how much the food caused your blood sugar to go up. You can chart trends and fine-tune your treatment.
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    AWilliam Lee Dubois, Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, answered

    Blood sugar matters, a lot, because over time high levels of blood sugar cause damage to your body. So high numbers are bad, right? Yes, but you can’t take any one number too seriously. A bad number doesn’t make you a bad person. I like to say that even bad numbers are good information. 
    That’s the secret to blood sugar testing: It’s good information. “Bad” numbers are simply good information that you need to do something about. 

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    If you use medications to manage your diabetes, you need to monitor your blood glucose levels as you lose weight. You may be able to reduce the dose of your medication as weight loss lowers your glucose levels.

    If you have episodes of hypoglycemia, you will need to treat them with food, and this adds calories and can slow down your weight loss. Call a member of your health care team if you start to have more frequent low blood glucose reactions, so they can advise you on decreasing your medication dose.

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    AWilliam Lee Dubois, Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, answered

    The most important thing you need to do is keep your blood sugar at whatever level your doctor says is right for you. There are two tools to help you do this:

    • One is a lab test that your doctor will run every three months to see how you are doing overall

    • The other tool is literally in your hands: a small, pager-sized device called a meter

    Used properly and together, these tools can help you to better understand and control your blood sugar levels, and to fine-tune your diabetes treatment.

  • 2 Answers
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    AStacy Wiegman, PharmD, Pharmacy, answered
    Poor control of your diabetes can harm your health in a number of ways. High blood sugar levels can damage your blood vessels, which, in turn, harms many parts of your body. People with diabetes have two to four times the risk of stroke or death from heart disease. Almost three-fourths of people with diabetes have high blood pressure. Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults in the United States and is the leading cause of kidney failure as well.

    Nerve damage, the result of high blood sugar, also wreaks havoc in the body, causing impotence and numbness and pain in the feet. About a third of people with diabetes have problems with their skin, including bacterial and fungal infections. Slow healing, caused by poor circulation, combined with nerve damage, can cause a minor sore on the foot to progress to gangrene and lead to amputation.
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    An eating disorder called diabulemia has been found in people with diabetes who use insulin. They intentionally reduce or omit insulin doses in an attempt to lose glucose and calories in the urine. As in other eating disorders, people who omit insulin for weight loss have more episodes of diabetic ketoacidosis and have problems managing their glucose levels.

    If you have an eating disorder or are omitting insulin for weight control, professional help is available. Eating disorders are serious and can lead to serious complications and even death. Please talk to someone with whom you feel comfortable discussing your feelings.

    Ask your provider to recommend a mental health counselor who can work with the other members of your health care team. Your entire team will work with you and your family to help you understand your disorder and how to treat it. It may help you to join a support group. Talking to ­others who have similar problems can help you feel understood. 

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    Sometimes going to parties, having friends visit, or just dining out may tempt you to overeat. You are bound to eat a little more than you planned on occasion. Don’t let an occasional moment of overeating make you feel guilty or like you are “cheating.” Remember, eating healthy is all about making choices. Maybe you can plan some more activity to help with extra food intake if you are working toward losing weight. For people on insulin, covering the extra food with more insulin is a choice too.

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    AWilliam Lee Dubois, Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, answered
    If you take care of yourself and treat your diabetes carefully, you can actually become much healthier than the average American who does not have diabetes.

    I am healthier with diabetes than I was without it. I think about my body, what I put into it, what I ask it to do. I am more keenly aware of my mortality, and yet will probably live longer and sweeter than I would have had diabetes not joined my team.
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    Just make sure to account for it in your overall daily nutrition. Always carry snacks with you. You never know when you might get stuck in traffic or delayed at work and start to go low.

    If you plan to go out for brunch, eat an early-morning snack. Then, use your lunchtime meal plan and what is left of your usual breakfast plan. If dinner is going to be very late, have your bedtime snack at your normal dinnertime.

    If you take insulin and can’t change the timing of your insulin dose, eat a piece of fruit or a starchy low-fat snack. You may need to adjust your insulin later to account for these changes, so ask your health care team how to do this.