Can I prevent diabetes? Am I at risk for other health problems if I have diabetes?

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Courtesy of DHR Health

By:Dr. Michelle Cordoba Kissee
DHR Health Diabetes & Endocrinology Institute

Diabetes mellitus is a condition where the sugar levels in the blood are too high. This can lead to damage to organs such as the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart.

The most common type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes, which is due to the body’s resistance to insulin. Insulin is an important hormone that our bodies make that lowers our blood sugar. With type 2 diabetes, the body’s resistance to insulin causes the blood sugars to increase. Insulin resistance is usually caused by weight gain, although other factors such as certain medications can contribute. There are many different types of medications such as pills and injections that can be used to treat type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is a different disease where the pancreas is not able to make insulin. Without insulin, the blood sugars go up, leading to organ damage over time. People with type 1 diabetes require treatment with insulin.

Can I prevent it?
Type 2 diabetes is best prevented by maintaining a healthy weight. Healthy nutrition, physical activity and proper sleep habits are important when avoiding the development of type 2 diabetes, and even modest weight loss can have profound benefits in preventing diabetes. Some people who are diagnosed with prediabetes may consider starting medications that help delay the development of diabetes. Metabolic (or bariatric) surgery is an option to prevent or even reverse diabetes in people who still have obesity despite making lifestyle changes. There is currently no way to prevent type 1 diabetes.

Am I at risk for other health problems if I have diabetes?
Because of underlying obesity, many people who have type 2 diabetes are at risk for other health problems. Being overweight can increase the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, liver disease, joint problems, sleep apnea, nerve damage, fertility issues as well as some types of cancer. It is important to discuss with your doctor if you are at a healthy weight to avoid complications of obesity such as type 2 diabetes. People who are overweight should be screened for conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes because early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the development of long term complications such as heart attack and stroke.

While it can be difficult for someone to learn they have diabetes, the good news is we now have many options for treatment and managing the complications of diabetes. Those who are diagnosed early and who have regular follow ups can expect to have a very good outcome of managing their diabetes.

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