Diabetes is a medical condition in which the body cannot get the sugar circulating in the blood into the body's cells, to give them the energy they need to function properly. As a result, the blood sugar level becomes elevated, causing many complications throughout the body.
There are 2 types of diabetes:
- Juvenile or Type 1: This is caused by a lack of the important hormone called insulin to help move sugar from the blood into the cells. Typically, someone with this type of diabetes will eat and drink a lot, urinate a lot, loose weight, and feel tired. Usually, treatment for this type will be insulin shots.
- Adult-onset or Type 2: This is caused by body cells being resistant to the insulin produced by the body. Typically, someone with this type of diabetes is overweight. Usually, treatment for this type will be medication by mouth.
You might be at risk for diabetes if you:
- have a family history of diabetes.
- are overweight.
Your doctor will determine whether you have diabetes based on a blood test known as the "glucose tolerance test." This is a series of blood tests that will monitor how your body responds to the intake of a particular sugar.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, you should expect your doctor to do the following tests:
- A blood test every 2 - 3 months called "Serum Hemoglobin A1C." This test will help your doctor understand how your insulin shots or medication are controlling your blood sugar.
- A blood test for LDL or "bad cholesterol" to understand your risk of heart disease.
- Urine tests to monitor how your kidneys are functioning. Kidneys are very sensitive to high blood sugar levels.
- Eye exams to monitor your vision. Your eyes are also very sensitive to high blood sugar levels.
- Foot exams to monitor your feet. High blood sugar can cause inflammation of the blood vessels and nerves to your feet, allowing your feet to become damaged without you even realizing it.
The goals of good diabetic control are:
- To have day-to-day blood sugar levels as normal as possible without running the risk of low blood sugar. (Symptoms of low blood sugar include headaches and feeling tired, weak, lightheaded, or about to pass out.)
- To have as low a Hemoglobin A1C as possible.
- To avoid the complications that can happen to your eyes, heart, kidneys, and feet as much as possible.
If you have diabetes, it is very important that you:
- Discuss your diagnosis with your doctor so that you can fully understand your medical condition.
- Take your medication and monitor your blood sugar levels as prescribed.
- Access other medical services that may be needed: endocrinology, nutritional/diabetic counseling, ophthalmology, renal, neurology, pharmacy, podiatry.
- Keep all appointments with your doctors and services and follow their advice.
- Be mindful of any changes in your vision or feet that would require extra attention.
For more information, you can check the following websites:
Diabetes Newsletter (Summer 2009)
For a Fidelis Newsletter article on Diabetes, click on this link:
If you have questions about diabetes and would like to speak to a Fidelis Health Care Associate, please call 1-800-247-1441.