More than 30 million Americans are living with some form of diabetes, and 1.5 million new cases are diagnosed every year. Close to one million Oregonians , with a large portion being in Beaverton / Portland have diabetes. Far worse is an estimated 20% of people with diabetes in Portland and the surrounding boroughs don’t know that have it. Without proper testing, monitoring and treatment this number is growing. An estimated 40% of elementary school student is overweight in Portland. With proper health care, this number can be dramatically decreased.
Diabetes is the name given to a group of conditions in which the levels of sugar, or glucose, in your blood are too high. This can cause a number of complications that affect your health. But with a proper diagnosis and treatment including medication and lifestyle changes, you can keep symptoms under control and enjoy a normal life, even with diabetes.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus, isn’t just one disease but several – and all of them involve problems with the processing of glucose in the body. Glucose is essential for providing energy to cells. The body produces a hormone called insulin to ensure that glucose is processed correctly; however, if not enough insulin is produced, or too much glucose is present, this system becomes unbalanced and causes the typical symptoms of diabetes:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Increased hunger
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to handle the processing of glucose. This type of diabetes is often diagnosed in children or young adults. People with this kind of diabetes generally must take insulin throughout their lives.
Type 2 diabetes causes high blood sugar levels for a different reason. In Type 2, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use the insulin efficiently to metabolize glucose in the blood. Type 2 diabetes can run in families, but lifestyle and diet choices such as smoking, lack of exercise, and a diet high in fats and sugars also play a role.
Gestational diabetes affects pregnant women – and only during pregnancy. Even if a woman hasn’t had diabetes before getting pregnant, her glucose levels can rise; she may need insulin or other treatments to stay healthy until she gives birth. After delivery, glucose levels generally return to normal.
Prediabetes isn’t technically diabetes, but it’s a condition that can lead to diabetes. If you’re prediabetic, your glucose levels are elevated but not high enough to be classified as fully diabetic.
Diagnosing Diabetes in Beaverton / Portland
If you have the typical symptoms of diabetes, your doctor may do further testing to check the levels of glucose in your blood. Tests include a fasting plasma glucose test to test blood glucose levels without food for several hours, and an oral glucose tolerance test, which requires you to consume a sweet drink during testing to see how your body responds to glucose. You may have several tests over time to determine your glucose levels and establish a treatment plan.
Treating Diabetes: Insulin and Medication
The goal of diabetes treatment is to keep blood glucose levels as close as possible to normal and to prevent diabetic complications such as vision problems, poor blood circulation, and heart conditions. People with Type 1 diabetes and some with Type 2 or gestational diabetes might need to take insulin regularly by injection or insulin pump, but many people with Type 2 diabetes keep symptoms under control with oral medications that aim to boost the body’s own insulin production or to limit the body’s processing of glucose.
Lifestyle Changes Can Help
A healthy lifestyle plays a key role in managing diabetes and preventing prediabetes from developing into full-blown Type 2 diabetes. That includes ensuring a diet designed for balanced blood sugar, engaging in regular exercise and stopping smoking. Losing weight can also help to prevent Type 2 diabetes and its complications. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, making positive changes and working closely with your doctors at Internal Medicine Consultants can make living with diabetes easier – and healthier.