Diabetes Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Diabetes fact with woman holding hands up like a question

More than 1 in every 10 adults 20 years and older have diabetes. Unfortunately, about one-fourth of adults with diabetes go undiagnosed. Learn the symptoms, risk factors, and treatment for diabetes and find out how you can prevent it with SIMED Primary Care Dr. Timothy Elder on World Diabetes Day (Nov. 14).

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease you can get when your blood glucose level is too high. The person has above normal blood sugar levels and might have difficulty managing their blood glucose levels.

There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is typically an insulin dependent diabetes and usually has a younger onset. Type 2 diabetes is more common and usually diagnosed in adulthood. We will be focusing on Type 2 diabetes.

What are the common symptoms of Type 2 diabetes?

The most common symptom Dr. Elder sees is fatigue or people coming in and saying they’re “just not feeling right.” A lot of people feel poorly and can’t explain why.

Other symptoms called the 3Ps include:

1. Polydipsia – increased thirst and fluid intake
2. Polyphagia – increased appetite
3. Polyuria – the need to urinate frequently

People might think they’re urinating a lot because they’re drinking more, but usually both happen as a result of diabetes. When the blood stream has too much glucose, the glucose can spill into the urine. To balance it out, the body will add more water to the urine. As a result, the person then needs to urinate more and feels more dehydrated.

How can I prevent or regulate diabetes?Infographic 5 common symptoms of type 2 diabetes

People can prevent Type 2 diabetes by:

1. Improving their diet and eating a low carb diet

Eating a low carb diet is one of the biggest issues. People with diabetes potential or who have diabetes should avoid foods that break down easily into simple sugars. When the carbs break down, they add to the sugar problem that already exists. 

2. Exercising

You can do any prolonged endurance cardio exercise. Current guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of exercise a week which ends up being about 30 minutes a day. If you have decreased activity, you could develop acute metabolic syndrome which increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Something as simple as fast walking can be very good exercise. Your muscles will actually take sugar out of your bloodstream and won’t need insulin to do that. Your biggest muscles are your glutes and your thighs; if you’re walking, you’re making those muscles work and using up excess the sugar in your body.

3.Maintaining an ideal body weight

Fat affects your insulin’s ability to work as it should. With less fat, your insulin should work better.

What are the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes?

People usually get Type 2 diabetes as a result of lifestyle choices, and Type 2 diabetes can usually be prevented by changes in diet and exercise. More people are getting diabetes at a younger age because of the obesity epidemic in the United States.

Risk factors include:

  • Being overweight
  • Family history with diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • High cholesterol

What should I do if I think I have diabetes?

If you’re showing signs of diabetes, you should let your doctor know. Your doctor might do a basic glucose test or a urine dipstick to see if there is glucose in your body. The tests are easy, quick, and affordable. You can get them done right in the office.

What happens if I’m diagnosed?

When you’re first diagnosed, you’ll usually do baseline labs to make sure your kidneys are functioning well and can tolerate the medicines you’d need to start. You might also get another lab done called the hemoglobin A1C test which we consider a vital sign for diabetes. This lab test can tell us the average glucose level over the past three months.

You’ll also receive basic diabetes education from your SIMED doctor. The doctor will set you up so you can do your own glucose level tests at home. You will usually then be started on basic medicine. You will need to visit your physician to try to make your goal and keep your hemoglobin A1C at less than 7 percent. At SIMED, we typically see a patient back as soon as a few weeks after being diagnosed to review how the patient is adjusting and address new questions they’ll have accumulated since the initial visit.

What is a good glucose level?

A normal glucose level is between 80 and 100. Usually, diabetes is diagnosed with a hemoglobin A1C. In that situation, if the person’s level is over 6.5%, they can be diagnosed with diabetes.

What medication will I need to take when I’m diagnosed?

Usually you will start off taking oral medication. The medication amount depends on your glucose level. The biggest fear patients have is that they’ll have to be on insulin, but initially that’s not usually the case. The oral medications currently available work very well, and if people make appropriate diet and lifestyle changes, they may never need to be on insulin. Some oral medications are generic, and one of them is actually free at a lot of drug stores.

If I’m diagnosed, can I eventually get rid of the disease?

While you can’t entirely remove the disease, it can go into remission if you control your glucose levels with weight loss, lifestyle modifications, diet, and exercise. A few patients of Dr. Elder have been successful at keeping their diabetes in remission.

What happens if I don’t regulate my diabetes?

Left untreated or unmanaged, people with diabetes can have increased risk for heart disease, stroke, blocked arteries in the legs, nerve damage in the hands/legs which limits sensation or causes burning pain, and damage to the retina causing vision loss. Untreated diabetics can also develop damage to their kidneys leading to the need for dialysis. It’s best to get tested and start treating the diabetes if you show symptoms.

What else should I know if I have diabetes?

If you have diabetes, you should see your doctor every 3 months or as recommended. Also, make sure you are up to date on your vaccines.

If you believe you might have diabetes, visit a SIMED Primary Care doctor today in Gainesville, Ocala, Chiefland, Lady Lake, or McIntosh to get tested. You can call 352-224-2225 or request an appointment online.To schedule an appointment with Dr. Elder in Gainesville, call 352-372-8202 or fill out an appointment form online.

Read More: Healthy Eating Tips with a diabetes diet
Read More: Cooking Hacks for a Healthy Heart  with recipe resources for diabetics
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Are You At Risk For Diabetes? Get Checked For Diabetes Alert Day

Are You At Risk For Diabetes?  Get Checked For Diabetes Alert Day | SIMED Health
The American Diabetes Association Alert Day is the fourth Tuesday in March this year (March 24th, 2015). This is a one-day "wake-up call" asking the American public to take the Diabetes Risk Tests for developing Type 2 Diabetes. These tests can also be conducted at our SIMED Primary Care and at our First Care Urgent Care offices.  

SIMED's Tenley Noone, MD shares some valuable insight on the different types of diabetes and how each one can affect the human body in different ways.

There are different types of Diabetes, but all involve how your body metabolizes sugar.  When you eat sugar your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin allows your body to get the sugar out of the blood and into the tissues that need it, like nerves, muscles, and your brain. When your body doesn’t make enough insulin you feel starved for energy and may start craving sugar.
There are several types of Diabetes and each has something to do with insulin and blood glucose, but they’re not all the same and the treatment for each can be different.
  • Type 1 Diabetes is a disorder in which the pancreas stops producing insulin. It used to be called juvenile diabetes. It is sometimes referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.
  • Type 2 Diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas can produce insulin. The insulin is either not enough for the amount of energy your body is trying to use, or your body can’t use it effectively and needs help.
  • Gestational Diabetes is diabetes that develops during pregnancy. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), women with gestational diabetes have a 35 to 60 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 20 years.
  • Prediabetes is when your blood glucose levels are higher than they should be, but not high enough to qualify as diabetes. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Are you at risk?  The main risk factors for developing diabetes include:
  • Obesity (a body-mass-index over 30): if you have been steadily gaining weight this is the biggest risk factor developing diabetes, accounting for approximately a 50 percent of the increase in diabetes in men and 100 percent in women. Recently a major study showed a 100-fold increased risk of incident diabetes over 14 years in people whose BMI was over 35 compared to a normal BMI.
  • Family history: compared with individuals without a family history of type 2 diabetes, individuals with a family history in any first degree relative have a two to three-fold increased risk of developing diabetes. The risk of type 2 diabetes is higher (five- to six fold) in those with both a maternal and paternal history of type 2 diabetes.
  • Ethnic heritage: certain ethnicities are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These include African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Native Americans, Hawaiian/Pacific Island Americans and Asian Americans.
  • Fat distribution: ever noticed some people’s body shapes? The distribution of excess fat tissue is another important determinant of the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurred most in people with larger waist circumferences. This is called central or abdominal obesity.
  • Smoking: many people don’t realize there is a link, but the longer you smoke (and the more cigarettes you smoke) increases your risk is of developing diabetes. The good news is this risk is diminished with each year you continue to not smoke.
  • Sleep duration: another less known risk factor is the quantity and quality of sleep you get may increase your risk of developing Diabetes.
So do you have Diabetes?
Come into SIMED First Care or your SIMED healthcare provider's office and get tested for diabetes today! It’s a simple blood test and can have a big impact on your long term health. Despite the test result, and especially if have any of the risk factors listed above please talk to your doctor about lowering your risk of diabetes through your lifestyle factors such as physical activity, diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, body weight, and sleep duration. Improving these lifestyle factors can reduce the risk of diabetes mellitus, and your doctor is always there to help!