February 20, 2019 1:03 pm
Diabetes Diagnosis & Management
Roughly thirty million Americans are affected by diabetes. Understanding a diabetes diagnosis and following recommendations for management are the best ways to achieve and maintain optimal health.
Carmen Parks, a nurse practitioner and Certified Diabetes Educator at Magnolia Regional Health Center’s Diabetes Specialty Clinic, reveals how a diabetic condition develops. “Susceptibility can come from genetic predisposition or it can possibly be brought about by weight gain, lack of exercise or an improper diet,” she says. “Those factors can predispose an individual to developing diabetes over time.”
What Is Diabetes?
Normal fasting glucose (blood sugar) levels are between 70 and 100 in the morning. If glucose before breakfast is higher than 126, this indicates diabetes. A prediabetes diagnosis lands between 100 and 126 fasting blood sugar.
In short, diabetes occurs when the blood sugar levels are higher than normal or higher than expected.
“When sugar levels are elevated, this indicates that the body is unable to process or metabolize food normally,” explains Parks. “More specifically, the body is not converting food into energy as it should.”
Individual symptoms of diabetes may point to other causes, but multiple signs should prompt a visit to the doctor for a blood test. Increased thirst, hunger or urination may be a signal. Fatigue, tingling in the limbs, blurred vision or a burning sensation in the feet are also clues. Difficulty healing from body sores, fungal skin infections or yeast infections are indicators as well.
Type 1: Insulin Deficit
Type 1 diabetes is the rarer diagnosis, affecting about ten percent of the diabetic population. It tends to occur more in children, but it can present in adults. Type 1 stems from the body’s difficulty creating enough insulin.
“Scientists do think that the immune system—which is our system for fighting infection—can become confused, leading to an attack on the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin and leaving them damaged and unable to produce insulin,” elaborates Parks. “When this occurs, we have no way to transport the sugar to our muscles for energy and instead the sugar becomes trapped in our blood.”
Treatment for type 1 requires a specific routine. The deficient insulin must be replaced via insulin injections. This has to be coordinated with carbohydrate consumption so the insulin and sugar from food can work together.
Type 2: Inefficient Insulin
Type 2 is the more common diagnosis, affecting about ninety percent of diabetic patients. Parks points out that type 2 occurs when the blood sugar is abnormally high because the body doesn’t make enough insulin, or the insulin it makes doesn’t work properly or efficiently.
Predisposition to type 2 can stem from genetic factors, weight gain, obesity or lack of exercise. Some individuals experience abnormal sugar production by the liver when they are asleep. Others have problems with cell signaling and the pancreas being unable to create the necessary insulin.
Treatment for type 2 focuses on a healthy diet and exercise. Managing carbohydrate consumption can impact blood sugar. Some individuals find success improving glucose with nutrition and fitness. However, some people require oral medications to mitigate the condition.
“People can definitely live healthy, normal lives with the available treatments,” assures Parks. “Once the sugars are stabilized, symptoms typically resolve.”
To listen to an interview with Carmen Parks, a nurse practitioner and Certified Diabetes Educator at Magnolia Diabetes Clinic, visit www.mrhc.org/healthcast/CarmenParks.
This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center