What is Diabetes?

Types of Diabetes
Pre-diabetes: Are you at Risk?

Diabetes, also called sugar diabetes, is a condition in which the body cannot properly metabolize food energy.  As a result, food energy, in the form of glucose, rises to unsafe levels in the bloodstream.  Prolonged levels of high blood glucose can cause severe complications including blindness, amputation, kidney failure, heart disease and nerve damage.  

However, with proper lifestyle modifications and daily blood glucose monitoring, a person with diabetes can lead a perfectly normal and healthy life.

There is no doubt about it, lifestyle changes make a world of difference for the person who has diabetes.  

Many health professionals say that diabetes has reached epidemic proportion in the United States.  23.6 million people in the U.S. have some form of diabetes.  It’s estimated that 6 million of them do not even know they have the condition.  

Diabetes in Oklahoma, as in the nation, is a severe problem.  Please call us (405-330-2362) at the Draelos Metabolic Health Clinic in Edmond for a diabetes screening test today.

Read on for more information about diabetes and how it affects your health.

Types of Diabetes

There are three main types of diabetes. Although similar, each one is caused by a slightly different mechanism.

  1. Type 1 Diabetes: Also called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes
  2. Type 2 Diabetes: Most common. 90-95% of people with diabetes have Type 2.
  3. Gestational Diabetes: Occurs during pregnancy then goes away after giving birth

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune disease and involves the gland known as the pancreas. The pancreas gland is located near the stomach and is responsible for making and secreting the hormone insulin. Insulin is an important part of the food digestion and energy production cycle.
In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, which causes insulin production to drop below normal levels or cease altogether. Without insulin, the body cannot use food energy properly and the body cannot function.

When we eat, carbohydrate foods are broken down into glucose, a type of simple sugar. (Glucose is not the same thing as table sugar. Table sugar is sucrose, a more complex molecule.) Glucose is the form of food energy that our body best utilizes. Glucose gets into the bloodstream, circulates, and is pushed into the cells by the hormone insulin. The cells then use the glucose as fuel.

In a type 1 diabetic, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin so the glucose cannot get from the bloodstream into the cells. Therefore it just stays in the bloodstream until it is secreted by the kidneys into the urine. (This is why a diabetic will have high levels of glucose in their urine.) Having the glucose remain in the blood instead of being pushed into the cells not only robs your body of the energy it needs to function, but it also causes your organs and blood vessels to become damaged. Prolonged high levels of blood glucose is what makes diabetes so dangerous. If you can manage to keep your blood glucose levels under control, then your body will not be damaged. That fact is what makes daily management and control of diabetes so critically important.

Right now, medical science does not know exactly what causes the body's immune system to attack and destroy the pancreatic beta cells. It is believed that genetic and environmental factors, possibly viruses, are responsible. Research continues.

Endocrinologist Dr. Matthew Draelos and his team at Draelos Metabolic Center specialize in diabetes and carefully watch ongoing diabetic research in order to provide superior care for Oklahomans with diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5 - 10 percent of diagnosed diabetes cases in the United States. It develops most often in children and young adults, but can appear at any age. Because it so often manifests in children type 1 diabetes is often referred to as juvenile diabetes.

A person with type 1 diabetes must provide their body with insulin by giving themselves insulin via shots or insulin pump. Surgical treatments, which transplant pancreatic beta cells, are being researched too.

Type 2 Diabetes:

The most common form, type 2 diabetes is not an auto-immune disease and it is not caused by a cesation in the production of insulin. Rather, it is caused by the body becoming resistant to the insulin it produces. The insulin is there, but the cells become resistant to it and therefore it simply does not work like it should. So the end result is the same, the blood glucose cannot get into the cells to do its work. The glucose remains circulating in the blood until it is excreted by the kidneys into the urine. Again, it is the prolonged high levels of blood glucose that cause the body damage.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with:

  • Older age
  • Overweight and Obesity
  • Family History of Diabetes
  • History of Gestational Diabetes
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Ethnicity

About 80% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. The rise in obesity in the U.S. is directly linked to the rise of diabetes. Although no one is 100% sure why, fat cells simply do not like insulin. Losing weight and making lifestyle changes have been shown to help prevent or relieve type 2 diabetes.

Many people with type 2 diabetes can “cure” themselves by losing weight and becoming physically active. Unlike type 1, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop gradually so are sometimes difficult to notice. Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent infections
  • Slow healing of wounds or sores.

However, some people have absolutely no symptoms, which is one reason why so many people remain undiagnosed. There are simple blood tests your doctor should perform annually to check your blood glucose status.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes develops only during pregnancy and usually occurs during the last few months before giving birth. Like type 2 diabetes, it occurs more often in African Americans, American Indians, Hispanic Americans, and among women with a family history of diabetes. Having gestational diabetes is considered a risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes. Women who suffer with gestational diabetes have a 20- 50 % chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 5 - 10 years.

An important part of pre-natal care should be the monitoring of glucose in the urine, a sure sign of diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause pregnancy complications, birth defects and even death. With careful monitoring and lifestyle adjustments, gestational diabetes can be controlled so no complications occur.

Glucose levels are normally lower during pregnancy, so the threshold values for diagnosis of diabetes in pregnancy are lower.


Pre-diabetes: Are you at Risk?

A condition called pre-diabetes, or impaired glucose metabolism, effects 79 million Americans-Are you one of them?  A diagnosis of  pre-diabetes puts you at risk for developing full-blown diabetes without action now!

Pre-diabetis is just what the name implies, almost diabetic but not quite.  To be considered “pre-diabetic” a person would be diagnosed with slightly elevated blood glucose levels, but the levels are not high enough to fall into the range defined as diabetic.

You are at increaed risk for developing pre-diabetes or diabetes if you are:

•You are overweight.

•A parent, brother or sister has diabetes.

•You are African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Asian American or Pacific Islander.

•You had a baby weighing more than 9 pounds or had gestational diabetes.

•You have high blood pressure.

•You have low HDL (good cholesterol).

•You have high triglycerides.

Losing weight and becoming physically active can keep full blown diabetes from ever forming.

diabetes finger prick blood test

It’s a wise idea to have yourself checked regularly for diabetes even if you show no symptoms.  A simple blood test can tell a doctor your average blood glucose measurement over the past three months.  If this initial screening test shows a higher than normal reading, further tests, including a glucose tolerance test, should be performed.

A glucose tolerance test involves drinking a syrupy liquid of pure glucose after fasting for at least 8 hours.  After drinking the glucose on an empty stomach, your blood sugar levels are monitored continually over the next three hours to see how your body responds.

For more information, here's our easy start guide to Diabetes and Weight Loss.

At Draelos Metabolic Center, we specialize in treating diabetes in our Oklahoma patients. Located just 30 minutes from downtown Oklahoma City in Edmond, Oklahoma, Draelos Metabolic Center is not just another Health Clinic. It is a premier center for overall health and wellness for those looking for help with overweight or obesity, diabetes, thyroid disorders or other endocrine issues.