November 17, 2021
POTSDAM, NY – While you or someone you care about may have been diagnosed with diabetes, if you practice a healthy lifestyle with exercise and proper dieting, you can live a normal life.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month and Canton-Potsdam Hospital Endocrinologist Paul Tejera, MD, FACE, noted diabetes is controlled with a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and a healthy diet. Sometimes oral medications, injectable medications, or insulin therapy may also be required.
Many people may not realize there are three kinds of diabetes, and Type 1 and Type 2 are both hereditary. Type 2 diabetes has a stronger link to genetics and family history, compared to Type 1 diabetes. Gestational diabetes may present when a woman is pregnant.
“Although hereditary, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can both develop spontaneously, without a strong family history of the disease. Diabetes can also occur as a result of a disease that damages the pancreas, like cystic fibrosis or chronic pancreatitis. Diabetes can also result from use of medications, like steroids or certain behavioral health treatments,” Dr. Tejera explained.
Type 1 diabetes is when the body does not make the hormone insulin, which leads to high sugar levels in the blood. It can occur in people at any age, race, or body size. People with Type 1 diabetes are dependent on insulin therapy, along with a healthy lifestyle, for treatment.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not use the hormone insulin appropriately, which leads to high sugar levels in the blood. It is more commonly found in adults, but can also begin during childhood. People with Type 2 diabetes can treat their disease with a combination of healthy lifestyle choices, oral medications, and injectable medications, including insulin.
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy when certain hormones can make the mother resistant to her own insulin, which leads to high sugar levels in the blood. People with gestational diabetes can be treated with dietary changes, but sometimes may require insulin therapy during pregnancy.
“When your blood sugar is elevated, there are common initial symptoms you can watch for, such as increased thirstiness, increased urination, increased hunger, unexplained weight loss, and worsening or blurry vision,” Dr. Tejera said. “Less specific symptoms can include significant fatigue, brain fog, or memory problems.”
Once you are diagnosed with diabetes, it is very important to follow the orders and directives given by your provider. If the disease is uncontrolled, complications may occur.
“Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to diabetic changes in the eyes, kidneys, and blood vessels/nerves in the feet. If left untreated, this can lead to severe consequences including blindness, amputations, and the need for dialysis. Uncontrolled diabetes is also associated with a significant increased risk of heart attack and stroke - two of the leading causes of death in the United States,” Dr. Tejera stated.
“Furthermore, in patients with uncontrolled diabetes, a kidney transplant may be required because the diabetes effects the kidneys and leads to end stage kidney disease,” he added. “Many times dialysis is a bridging therapy while a patient waits for a kidney transplant.”
To ensure a healthy lifestyle, Dr. Tejera highly recommends patients have an initial conversation with their primary care provider to establish baseline risks as early as possible.