From an interview with
Dr. Tom Rives
McLeod Primary Care Little River
Chances are, you know someone with diabetes. More than 37 million Americans — about 1 in 10 — have the disease. People are developing diabetes at younger ages and at higher rates. Here, Dr. Tom Rives provides valuable information about this chronic health condition that affects how the body turns food into energy.
When we eat food, our digestive system breaks it down and it forms sugar. The sugar is picked up by the body and the pancreas then releases insulin.
For people with diabetes, they either don’t have enough insulin to be able to get their blood sugar down or they have a problem with the functioning of the insulin. That leads to elevated blood sugars. The problems we see with diabetes have to do with the sugar being left elevated and the complications that come from that elevated blood sugar.
The classic symptoms of diabetes are excess thirst, excess hunger, and excess urination. Another symptom is numbness and tingling in the fingers or hands. People may have blurred vision and difficulty seeing. Lots of people just come in feeling lousy and don’t know why, so it can be a combination of things.
Type one diabetes is considered insulin-dependent diabetes, by its old name. It’s also called juvenile-onset diabetes. It happens when your body can’t manufacture enough insulin, and you have problems with elevated blood sugars from that source.
Type two diabetes is what we typically think of when we hear adult-onset diabetes. It’s usually associated with being overweight. Insulin resistance causes the insulin not to work like it should, and then we end up with elevated sugars.
Third would be gestational diabetes, which has to do with diabetes that occurs during pregnancy.
There’s no cure for diabetes. The best way to deal with it is to manage it, and managing it would mean diagnosing it, and then incorporating a healthy diet and exercising on a regular basis. Treatment includes using medications if needed or indicated, to get the sugars down to appropriate levels. Our goal is to try to prevent the damage that occurs from blood sugar being too elevated.
To learn more about diabetes, talk with a primary care physician.