Diabetes is a disease that impairs the body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, moves glucose from the bloodstream into the tissue cells. The body breaks down the carbohydrates (sugars and starches) you eat and turns them into glucose, which is then used for energy. Without insulin, the body cannot complete this process.
Diabetes occurs in several forms:
Approximately 5 percent of the diabetic population suffers from type 1 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults but can occur at any age. Insulin therapy and other treatments can allow even young children to manage type 1 diabetes and live long healthy lives.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not have enough insulin and/or is unable to use it properly. In early stages, the pancreas produces extra insulin to make up for this deficiency. Over time the body is unable to keep up and cannot make enough insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels.
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy. If uncontrolled, it can cause the baby to grow very large, leading to problems with the baby’s delivery. Gestational babies are more likely to become overweight or obese during childhood or adolescence, which can, in turn, lead to type 2 diabetes. Women who develop gestational diabetes have up to a 60 percent risk of developing type 2 diabetes as they age.
Common symptoms of diabetes:
Some people with type 2 diabetes may have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed. Early detection and treatment can decrease the risk of developing diabetes-related complications.
Uncontrolled blood sugars over time can affect your health by damaging healthy cells, tissues and organs. Health risks associated with diabetes include:
Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented; however, you can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you:
As a newly diagnosed diabetic, it’s important to take the disease seriously and take certain steps to manage it effectively. Some things about your daily routine will need to change. Fortunately, you can do a great deal to keep yourself healthy and manage your diabetes. This section will provide you with tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle and control the disease.
A few important first steps include:
Diabetes is a chronic disease. People are often taken by surprise and sometimes do not believe the diagnosis is correct. They often experience anger, denial and depression. Research has shown that people with diabetes are more likely to develop mental health issues as a result (depression, diabetes distress, anxiety, and eating disorders). Dealing with the physical, psychological and social aspects of having diabetes may require assistance to make necessary lifestyle changes. Working with a health care professional to develop coping and problem-solving skills can help you improve blood sugar levels as well as quality of life.
Work with your team to design a care plan that will work for you, and let them help you make changes to the plan as your life changes. Your plan should include:
Stress can be a vicious circle for diabetics. Stress can increase the blood sugar, but if you are having a hard time controlling your blood sugar levels, your stress level may increase as a result. Here are some tips to manage stress:
Having diabetes will change certain parts of your life. Having the support of friends and family will be an important part in the successful management of your disease and accomplishing certain lifestyle changes. You will need to help educate these important people in your lives about diabetes and the lifestyle changes that it will mean for you. A few examples of ways to get them involved:
Each participating Memorial Hermann hospital offers a unique program for patients diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, Pre-diabetes and Gestational Diabetes. All of our programs are approved by the American Diabetes Association and are taught by certified diabetes educators who are Registered Dietitians and Registered Nurses.
Diabetes Education covers the principles of Diabetes Self-Management including:
Class schedules vary by campus. Please contact the hospital campus closest to you for more information. Links to each campus and telephone contact information can be found below. Understanding diabetes is the key to preventing diabetic complications and this can save lives. The cost of the program is covered by most insurance groups, Medicare and some Medicaid plans. Please contact your insurance provider to verify your benefits.
The information presented on this page is educational and not intended as medical advice or the practice of medicine. Specific aspects of your outcomes and care should be addressed and answered after consultation with your physician.