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Diabetes Treatment near Lake Norman, NC

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which your body lacks the ability to produce enough, or any, insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas and helps convert sugar and food into energy. There are three types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: Usually diagnosed in children and young adults, Type 1 diabetes is when the body doesn’t produce any insulin. It only accounts for about 5% of people with diabetes.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: The most common form of diabetes, Type 2 diabetes is when your body doesn’t use insulin properly. At first, a problem causes blood sugar levels rise (hyperglycemia) and the pancreas overproduces insulin to make up for it, but eventually can’t keep up with high blood sugar levels.
  • Gestational Diabetes: A more uncommon type of diabetes, gestational diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels vary rapidly during the later stages of pregnancy. It occurs in about 4% of all pregnancies. Gestational diabetes doesn’t indicate having diabetes before the pregnancy, and doesn’t necessarily lead to diabetes after the pregnancy.

The board certified physicians at Davidson Family Medicine provide comprehensive testing and treatment for diabetes at our office in Davidson, NC. Learn more about diabetes and call to schedule your appointment today.

What Parts of the Body Does Diabetes Affect?

Proper blood flow and blood health is required for all organs in the body to function. Diabetes directly affects the bloodstream and if not controlled can impact the following organs directly:

  • Pancreas – Diabetes directly affects the pancreas due to the need for insulin. However, high glucose levels and even medication for diabetes can lead to acute pancreatitis. This results in the pancreas enzymes start digesting tissue instead of food and sugar, leading possibly to pancreatic cancer.
  • Kidneys – Poor glucose levels and high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels that supply the kidneys which can lead to diabetic nephropathy, a diabetic kidney disease that affects 20-40% of people with Type 1 diabetes and about one third of people with Type 2 diabetes.
  • Nerves – High glucose levels can damage the vessels that supply the nerves, resulting in damage to various parts of the body, like the involuntary actions of the heart and lungs. This is called Neuropathy. There are three types of Neuropathy; sensory, autonomic and motor.
  • Eyes – High glucose levels can damage the very delicate vessels that supply the retina, causing Retinopathy. This prevents the retina from working properly and impairs vision. There are three types of Retinopathy; background, maculopathy and proliferative.

Diabetes can potentially affect any organ in the body if not properly controlled.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are more noticeable than those of Type 2, but the following may indicate any form of diabetes:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • More thirsty than normal, even after drinking fluids
  • More hungry than normal, even after eating
  • Decreased, or blurry vision
  • Frequent urination
  • Slow-healing cuts and bruises
  • Type 1 Diabetes: Weight loss, even with a proper diet
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Tingling, pain and/or numbness in the hands and feet
  • Gestational Diabetes: There are often no symptoms, so it’s important to be tested at the proper time of pregnancy
    It’s extremely important to detect these symptoms early on and treat them so they don’t lead to diabetic complications.

What Causes of Diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes: The direct causes of Type 1 diabetes are unknown. It begins with the immune system attacking pancreatic cells that produce insulin. It is believed that this is caused by genetics and possibly environmental conditions.

Type 2 Diabetes: With Type 2 diabetes, cells become resistant to insulin and the pancreas can’t make enough insulin to make up for this resistance, so the excess sugar is forces to remain the the bloodstream instead of moving into the cells to give them energy. Some causes linked to prediabetics and Type 2 diabetes may be diet and being overweight. However, it’s important to know that not all people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or have improper diets. Therefore, it’s believed that genetics and environmental factors also play a role in Type 2 diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes: During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones to sustain the pregnancy. These hormones make cells more resistant to insulin. Like Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produces more insulin to make up for it, but when it can’t keep up it leads to gestational diabetes.

What are the Risk Factors of Diabetes?

For Type 1 Diabetes

  • Viruses – Exposure to certain rare viruses can sometimes lead to Type 1 diabetes.
  • Family History – Risk increases if a parent or sibling has Type 1 diabetes.
  • Pancreatic Disease – Any inability of the pancreas can result in a lack of insulin.
  • Immune Damaging Cells – The presence of autoantibodies can increase the risk of Type 1. diabetes. However, not all people who test positive for autoantibodies develop diabetes.

For Type 2 Diabetes

  • Weight – Overweight people tend to be at higher risk of diabetes because fatty tissue increase cell resistance to insulin.
  • Family History – Risk of Type 2 diabetes increases if a parent or sibling has Type 2 diabetes.
  • Lack of Exercise – Inactivity creates more fatty tissue and makes glucose stay dormant instead of being consumed as energy by cells.
  • Age – Risk of Type 2 diabetes increases as age increases. However, it could be the lack of exercise, weight gain and loss of muscle mass associated with increased age.
  • High Blood Pressure – Risk of Type 2 diabetes increases if blood pressure is over 140/90 mm HG.
  • Cholesterol – Low levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) and high levels of triglycerides (type of fat carried in the bloodstream) can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Gestational Diabetes – Having gestational diabetes doesn’t always lead to Type 2 diabetes, but it does increase risk post-pregnancy.

Gestational Diabetes

  • Age – Pregnant women over the age of 25 are at increased risk of gestational diabetes.
  • Weight – Being overweight increases risk of gestational diabetes
  • Family History – Personally being pre-diabetic or having an immediate family member with Type 2 diabetes increases risk of gestational diabetes.

How is Diabetes Treated?

There are many things that can be done to decrease diabetic complications, both from home and from a physician at Davidson Family Medicine.

  • Healthy Diet – Focus on foods that are high in nutrients and fiber, but lower in fat, calories and sugar. This includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains. For specific diets, contact a dietitian.
  • Exercise – Physical activity decreases fatty tissue and converts more sugar to energy so it doesn’t lay dormant. 30 minutes of physical activity a day can greatly reduce the risk of diabetes.
  • Monitor Blood Sugar – Using a glucose monitor and checking blood sugar levels a few times a week is extremely important for people at risk because seeing trends in blood sugar can result in early detection of diabetes. It is also important to monitor blood sugar levels during medication or insulin therapy.
  • Insulin – People with Type 1 diabetes need insulin to survive. Talk to a physician about insulin treatment options, or an insulin pump if necessary.
  • Medication – Depending on the case, oral medications or injections may be an alternative option. These stimulate the pancreas and/or make stomach and intestinal enzymes more sensitive to insulin so the pancreas doesn’t have to produce as much.
  • Transplant – In sever cases of Type 1 diabetes, a pancreas transplant may be an option. If successful, insulin therapy is no longer needed, however lifetime medication is needed for the body to not reject the organ. These medications can have their own side effects, so consult a physician.
  • Bariatric Surgery– This is an infrequent treatment for Type 2 diabetes, however surgeries like gastric bypass can help improve weight and blood health.