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Diabetes

Definition of diabetes

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, an endocrine gland just behind the stomach. The pancreas allows the body to turn sugar into energy. When the pancreas produces too little insulin or no insulin at all, the body has a difficult time turning sugar into energy. Instead, that extra sugar accumulates in the bloodstream. This is a condition known as diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes

Extra sugar in the bloodstream pulls fluid out of your tissues, which makes you thirsty. You might drink and urinate more than usual. Vision might be blurry if fluids are pulled from the tissues of the eyes. Since your body is not turning sugars into energy, your body will think it needs food, so you might be extremely hungry. Also, the lack of energy might lead to fatigue. Deprived of sugars, your muscles and fat cells can shrink, leading to weight loss. Left untreated, diabetes can affect many other organs and systems including the heart, nerves, kidneys, eyes, skin and feet. Not everyone with diabetes has these symptoms. And, the symptoms can be caused by disorders other than diabetes. Presbyterian Endocrinology and Osteoporosis Consultants will perform blood tests to learn your blood sugar level and determine if you might be diabetic.

Causes of diabetes

The cause of Type 1 Diabetes (where the body produces little or no insulin, possibly starting at a young age) is not known, but it is believed genetics plays a large role in this illness. Type 2 Diabetes happens when the body becomes resistant to insulin or the pancreas stops producing enough insulin. This can also be linked to heredity, but is also greatly influenced by diet and lifestyle.

Treatments for diabetes

While some mild cases of diabetes can be managed with changes to diet and exercise, other cases will require insulin therapy either by injection or an insulin pump. In all cases, monitoring blood sugar levels and knowing the symptoms of both high and low blood sugar are keys to successful management. The diabetes specialists at Presbyterian Endocrinology and Osteoporosis Consultants will work with you and watch you closely as we determine the diabetes management plan that works for you.
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