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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    A , 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.

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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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    A , 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.

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    Eating out is a big part of today’s lifestyle—and there is no reason why you should avoid restaurants because you have diabetes. However, it is important to know what you’re eating and to make healthy choices from the menu.

    Tips for Eating Out

    • Don’t be afraid to ask about ingredients or the serving size of dishes.
    • Try to eat the same portion size you would eat at home. Don’t feel you need to clean your plate just to get your money’s worth.
    • Ask your server if you can order a smaller portion at a reduced price, share a plate with your companion, or put extra food in “doggy bag” to take home.
    • Ask if no or less butter can be used in preparing your meal.
    • Ask that sauces, gravy, salad dressings, sour cream, and butter be served on the side or left off altogether.
    • Choose broiled, baked, poached, or grilled meats and fish rather than fried.
    • Try asking for substitutions, such as low-fat cottage cheese, baked potato, or even extra vegetables, instead of French fries.
    • If you take insulin, ask your health care team for guidelines on adjusting your dose when you eat out.
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    A , Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism, answered
    Once you have the design for diabetes built into your body, something needs to trigger it. Your genetics are your diabetes hardware. Your age and weight are your diabetes software. If you are set up for diabetes, it shows up when you are old enough (usually about 40) or heavy enough. If you are really skinny, you probably got your diagnosis later in life. If you are a bit hefty, you probably got your diagnosis earlier in life.
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    A , Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism, answered

    Sometimes I see someone with diabetes whose parents don’t have it. Well, you are the unique joining of two family trees. Maybe mom’s side didn’t have diabetes. Maybe dad’s side didn’t have diabetes. But you do. Something happened when mixing your mother’s genes and your father’s genes that created a new family of people with diabetes. Everything starts somewhere.

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    A , Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism, answered
    Diabetes, at least the most common kind, tends to creep up on its victims over a period of many years. The high blood sugar caused by diabetes makes you feel like crap, but you probably don’t even know it yet because the changes happen so slowly, a little bit at a time. It is so gradual that you chalked up your symptoms to getting older, being busier than usual, or being stressed out. Diabetes typically doesn’t get diagnosed until after you’ve been feeling terrible for quite a while.
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    A , Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism, answered
    Diabetes diagnosis means treatment, and treatment means improvement. The good news is that you are going to feel ten years younger in a matter of months. Your energy is about to start going up, up, up. You won’t be so thirsty. Instead of getting up four times a night to pee, you’ll sleep through the night. Your love life will improve. Your vision will get sharp. You won’t be so crabby, you might not notice, but your loved ones sure will. Bottom line: From this very day forward, it all gets better.