QUESTION: “My doctor just told me that I have diabetes after he looked at my blood work. I don’t know what type of diabetes I have?”
Type 1 diabetes: Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that is diagnosed typically before age 30, but it can develop at any age. Type 1 diabetes is triggered when antibodies damage cells in the pancreas that make insulin. This type of diabetes requires supplemental insulin either from injections or an insulin pump.
Type 2 diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is associated with weight gain (obesity) and aging, although it is appearing more frequently among youth. It often causes a condition that makes the body more resistant to insulin. Dietary changes, weight loss and exercise can help manage type 2 diabetes, therefore, it is very helpful for a person to get help from a registered dietitian who specializes in diabetes management (certified diabetes educator: CDE). A person may need to take oral medications (pills) and may need to add insulin into their daily regimen if blood sugars cannot be properly managed by a combination of diet, weight loss and exercise. For a list of factors, please visit American Diabetes Association.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes also have a genetic component.
QUESTION: “What are some of the symptoms of diabetes?“
A person may experience one or more of the following complaints or symptoms before being diagnosed with diabetes or even pre-diabetes.
- Frequent need to urinate
- Constant thirst despite taking fluids
- Severe hunger urges; may crave carbohydrate type foods, especially sugar
- Unexplained weight loss (type 1) or weight gain (type 2)
- Dark patches of skin around the neck, under the arms or in the groin area (insulin resistance)
- Decreased ability to fight off infection
- Vision problems, vision may become very blurry
- Erectile dysfunction
- Loss of feeling in fingers and feet
QUESTION: “My doctor told me that my blood sugars are a little high and that if I don’t lose weight and change my diet I will end up with diabetes. What does this mean?”
A fasting blood sugar between 100-125 mg/dl is considered to be elevated and in the pre-diabetic range. There are other blood tests that may indicate you are pre-diabetic. It is important that you refer yourself, or have your doctor refer you, to a registered dietitian/certified diabetes educator to help you manage your blood sugars. Elevated blood sugars increase your risk of having a heart attack and other health issues.
QUESTION: “What can I expect from a visit with a registered dietitian/certified diabetes educator?”
The registered dietitian will go over your medical history, dietary and lifestyle habits, such as exercise, alcohol consumption, etc., review the medications and supplements you are currently taking, and work with you to put together a plan to better management your blood sugars. This may include any or all of the following: weight loss, dietary changes, improving your health habits and an individualized menu plan. In addition, the diabetes educator also may discuss medication interactions and diabetes medications with your doctor. Ask the registered dietitian nutritionist what will be covered at your visit and let them know what you would like to get out of the visit. This visit should be tailored to meet your needs.
QUESTION: “What might happen if I ignore what the doctor tells me and continue to eat what I like and not exercise or lose weight and my blood sugars remain elevated?”
Not controlling your diabetes can lead to a range of different problems because it damages the vessels that supply blood to our important organs. Some of these problems include:
- Heart disease, heart attack
- Vision problems, loss of vision
- Nerve problems, may lead to amputation of lower limbs
- Kidney disease, can lead to dialysis
For more information about an appointment or to schedule an appointment, please contact me using the Contact Information on the top-right side of this page, or use the convenient form on the Contact page.