What is Diabetes?
The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugars to build up in your blood, and is why many people refer to diabetes as “sugar.”
There are two types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 used to be called Juvenile Diabetes and occurs when the body does not produce insulin. It is most commonly diagnosed in children and young people. Only five percent of people with diabetes have Type 1.
With Type 2, your body makes insulin and but doesn’t use it properly. At first, the pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. Over time, however, your pancreas isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose levels normal.
Some people with Type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose with healthy eating and being active. But your doctor may need to also prescribe oral medications or insulin to help you meet your target blood glucose levels. Type 2 usually gets worse over time – even if you don’t need medications at first, you may need to later on. Type 2 is treated with lifestyle changes, oral medications (pills), and insulin.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
People who think they might have diabetes must visit a physician for a diagnosis. They might have some of following symptom, or none of them, which is why a physician must be seen:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme hunger
When you visit your physician, you will probably be given an A1C test. The A1C is a blood test than can reflect your average blood glucose for the past two to three months, and will show how well your treatment plan has been working.
- Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in America, and has become an epidemic around the world. In 2015, more than 30 million Americans had the disease, and more than seven million of those cases were undiagnosed. In Arkansas, 363 thousand people have diabetes, In addition, 797 thousand people in Arkansas have prediabetes, which occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Serious complications of diabetes include heart disease, stroke, amputation, end-stage kidney disease, blindness and death.
- The American Diabetes Association names obesity as one of the main risk factors for diabetes and pre-diabetes.
- A person can not change their race, ethnicity or family history, but research has clearly shown that making positive lifestyle choices including eating a healthy diet, getting daily physical activity, weight and stress management and not smoking can help delay or prevent diabetes for those at risk. For those who have diabetes, regular medical care and diabetes self-management education is essential to prevent complications.
- Regular exercise is important for everyone—but it is especially important for pre-diabetic and diabetic patients. Regular exercise helps control the amount of sugar in the blood and increases levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. It also burns excess calories and fat to help achieve optimal weight. Maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of the management of diabetes.
- African Americans are 1.7 times as likely to develop diabetes as whites. The prevalence of diabetes among black individuals has quadrupled over the last 30 years. Death rates for African Americans with diabetes are 27 percent higher than for whites
Jefferson Regional Diabetes Counseling
Inpatients who have been diagnosed with diabetes receive individual counseling about how to live well with diabetes. Patients are taught to check and interpret their blood sugar levels, and informed about the importance of a healthy diet and exercise. Jefferson Regional Educators are currently developing a diabetes self-management plan for outpatients.
Endocrinology is the study and treatment of issues relating to hormones, including diabetes. Jefferson Regional is fortunate to have an endocrinologist on staff that has been in Pine Bluff for a number of years, working with patients who have diabetes.