What is diabetes and can it be managed?

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Courtesy of DHR Health

By:  Michelle Cordoba-Kissee, MD
DHR Health Diabetes and Endocrinology Institute

Most people who are diagnosed with diabetes have diabetes mellitus, a disorder where the sugar levels in the blood are too high.  Type 1 diabetes mellitus occurs when there is damage to the pancreas, the gland that makes insulin.  While this can occur at any age, it is the type of diabetes that we often see in children.  Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is more common and usually occurs in the setting of weight gain.  The body becomes resistant to its own insulin, and the pancreas cannot make enough insulin to bring down elevated blood sugars.  This type of diabetes is common in adults, but it can also be seen in children who are overweight. Type 2 diabetes is best treated with weight loss and may be treated with pills or insulin.

What’s new in diabetes management?

An active lifestyle with good nutrition and adequate sleep remains important for diabetes management.  While having good blood sugar control is still crucial for diabetes management, we now also focus on other outcomes as well.  Newer classes of medications (such as GLP1 agonists and SGLT2 inhibitors) have been shown to not only help control blood sugar, but are also associated with weight loss.  They also have benefits for the heart and kidneys.

For patients taking insulin, there are newer injected insulin’s that can last longer than ever before.  Some people may use insulin that is inhaled into the lungs rather than injected.  There is also newer technology for those that use an insulin pump, which can help a person better manage their blood sugars.  Continuous glucose monitors are devices that people can wear on their bodies to let them know what their blood sugar level is without poking their finger each time.

Another option for many people with diabetes is metabolic (or bariatric) surgery, where different surgeries on the stomach result in weight loss and can cause diabetes to go into remission.  Many people no longer need medications for type 2 diabetes following metabolic surgery accompanied by changes in lifestyle.

How bad is a diagnosis of type two diabetes?

Hearing about a new diagnosis of diabetes can be difficult.  However, thanks to newer treatments, people can have a very good quality of life with diabetes.  We now have cutting-edge tools to avoid complications of the eyes, feet, kidneys and heart.  A team approach often includes dietitians, pharmacists, nurses, medical assistants, mental health providers in addition to doctors and other prescribing providers.  These days, our patients that participate in their care for diabetes can expect to have excellent outcomes while living with diabetes.

If you would like more information on diabetes management  or would like to speak to one of our experts, please call DHR Health Diabetes and Endocrinology Institute at (956) 362- 5650.