Authored by Steven Wright, MD, Director of Medicine at Whittier Street Health Center
November often conjures up thoughts of turkey, leaves changing and lots of foods, but it is also recognized as National Diabetes Month in order to raise awareness of a disease that is frighteningly common place. Over 10% of the US population has been diagnosed with diabetes and there are a projected 7.3 million cases that have gone undiagnosed. While Diabetes can be managed, not knowing the risk factors or symptoms leaves one vulnerable, so it is key to understand what exactly Diabetes is.
After we eat our food is broken down into a sugar called glucose which is then released into our blood stream. This triggers a response in the pancreas to release insulin which regulates how our body processes the nutrients received from food. When an individual has Diabetes the body does not produce enough insulin or is unable to utilize that which is produced. If this persists, cells will stop responding to insulin which results in too much sugar remaining in the blood stream. If gone untreated these effects can cause health issues such as heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease. The effects of Diabetes are concerning so it is important to know the risk factors and the types that exist.
Types of Diabetes
- Type 1 – This form of diabetes causes an autoimmune reaction that stops your body from producing insulin. Those with this form need to take insulin each day and there is currently no way to prevent Type 1 Diabetes.
- Type 2 – With Type 2 Diabetes your body does not use insulin effectively in addition to not being able keep your blood sugar at normal levels. This form of diabetes is preventable, but develops in those who do not eat healthy and live a sedentary life style.
- Gestational Diabetes – Forms in pregnant women who have no prior diabetic history. This form of diabetes often goes away after the baby is born, but places the child at higher risk of reaching obesity and developing Type 2 Diabetes later in life.
- Prediabetes – Refers to individuals that have higher than normal blood pressure which raises your risk of being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. 1 out of every 3 adults (88 million) in the United States have Prediabetes.
Those living with Diabetes have to actively fight the disease and Whittier Street Health Center offers many services to help our patients managing this issue. We offer a Diabetes Educational Group which is open to those dealing with multiple types of Diabetes that provides patients with a road-map on how to set goals and manage their condition through healthy eating habits. The key thing to remember as someone with Diabetes is that it is manageable and you can achieve good health despite it.
Whittier Street Health Center offers the Diabetes Clinic through our Adult Medicine Department at 1290 Tremont St, Roxbury, MA 02120. Please call 617-989-3115 for an appointment.