What is Diabetes? Diabetes develops when the body cannot produce or use insulin, an essential hormone made in the pancreas. Insulin helps move glucose (a form of sugar) from the blood into the cells of your body.

When glucose builds up in the bloodstream, blood glucose (or blood sugar) rises, causing a condition known as hyperglycemia. When blood glucose goes too high, people experience a variety of symptoms.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurred vision

Other symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Frequent skin, bladder or gum infections
  • Wounds that do not heal
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Very dry skin

The goal of treatment for diabetes is to maintain blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. There are three basic treatments:

  • Diet: Changes in diet to be 30% fat (mostly monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat), 40-55% carbohydrates (high fiber, low glycemic index) and 15% protein. The distribution of carbohydrates and calories throughout the day are important, as well as limiting total calories to achieve a near ideal body weight. These changes will lower blood glucose and lipid levels.
  • Exercise: Exercise burns calories and muscle glycogen, which lowers blood glucose. Exercise decreases insulin resistance, which allows insulin to normally manage glucose levels.
  • Medications:
    • Oral medications reduce blood glucose levels by:
      • Improving insulin release from the pancreas,
      • Reducing the available glucose
      • Decreasing insulin resistance.

Diabetes healthcare has moved to place the “patient” in the center of the treatment model, not the doctor. Bring information about your blood glucose tracking and questions to your healthcare providers. Be pro-active and speak up if you need more information or medical care.

Diabetes Self Management Education (DSME) programs are available for people diagnosed with diabetes through Medicare and most health insurance plans. You can be referred to group classes specially designed and approved to empower you with all the basic information to manage your diabetes. Check with your local hospital or ask your doctor or diabetes educator. You also may have coverage for individual appointments with the diabetes educator for medication management, insulin injection training, and use of an insulin pump.

Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) is also available through Medicare and most health insurance plans. You can meet with a Registered Dietitian (R.D.) and have individualize instruction on meal planning and diabetes care. Call your health insurance plan for information on what you can do to take the best care possible.

For more information:





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Preventing Childhood Obesity
Eric Dale
Prevention Specialist


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