According to the American Diabetes Association, there are 18.2 million people in the United States, or 6.3 percent of the population, who suffer from diabetes. The disease is characterized by an elevation in blood sugar due to the body’s inability to produce or properly respond to insulin. The majority of people with diabetes have type 2, or the non-insulin-dependent form, of the disease. The prevalence of diabetes in the United States is expected to double over the next 20 years.
- Frequent urination
- Extreme thirst
- Excessive hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision
Major Types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes: Results from the body’s failure to produce insulin, the hormone that “unlocks” the cells of the body, allowing glucose to enter and fuel them.
Type 2 diabetes: Results from insulin resistance (a condition in which the body fails to properly use insulin) combined with relative insulin deficiency. This is the most common type of diabetes, affecting 95 percent of those with the disease. People with type 2 diabetes typically have no or relatively few symptoms when compared with patients suffering from type 1 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes: Gestational diabetes affects nearly 4 percent of all pregnant women – about 135,000 cases in the United States each year.
Pre-diabetes: Pre-diabetes, sometimes called impaired glucose tolerance, is a condition that occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
When you visit Lahey for a screening, your clinician will ask you some key questions designed to aid in the diagnosis of diabetes or pre-diabetes. A fasting blood glucose (FBG) test or, less frequently, an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) will be ordered. With the FBG test, a fasting glucose level between 100 and 125 mg/dl signals pre-diabetes; a fasting blood glucose level of 126 mg/dl or higher indicates diabetes. Similarly, with the OGTT (which measures a blood glucose level after a fast and two hours after drinking a glucose-rich beverage), a blood glucose level of 140-199 mg/dl indicates pre-diabetes; 200 mg/dl or higher indicates diabetes.
Treating Diabetes at Lahey
At Lahey, we employ a multidisciplinary approach to treatment, so we ensure that you always receive the best and most appropriate care. Your endocrinologist, diabetic nurse educator and dietitian all work together to help you manage this challenging disease. Our knowledgeable health professionals will help you develop a comprehensive education program and an individually designed plan for managing your diabetes, thus reducing the risk of complications.
A number of medications are available to assist in sugar control. For patients diagnosed with type 2, these include oral medications and sometimes insulin. For type 1 patients, insulin is required. Some patients choose to use an insulin pump – an innovative device that provides you with a small amount of insulin throughout the day to keep your glucose level stable. If you choose to use the pump, a member of the Lahey Endocrinology staff will thoroughly educate you on the use of your pump. Many studies have demonstrated that patients who focus on good sugar control have limited complications from the disease, such as eye, kidney or nerve damage.
However, should complications arise, we provide easy access to appropriate subspecialty resources and departments within Lahey. For information on the treatment of cardiac complications in diabetic patients, visit the Landsman Heart & Vascular Center.