Diabetes Facts & National Diabetes Awareness Month

At South Coast Medical Group, we’ve noticed the worrying trend of diabetes appearing in more and more patients in our community. That’s why we are proud to support November as National Diabetes Awareness Month. Dr. John Cheng, explains more about diabetes and how it impacts the lives of patients:

What causes diabetes?

Dr. John Cheng: Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune disorder that destroys the Beta cells of the pancreas resulting in the pancreas not being able to produce insulin, which is needed to get glucose (sugar) into the cells of your body. Type 2 diabetes is caused when a person’s body no longer respond to the secretions of insulin or stops being able to make enough insulin for the demands of the body.

How can diabetes be prevented?

Dr. John Cheng: Type 1 diabetes is not preventable because it is an autoimmune disorder. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented through a healthy diet of limiting processed foods, carbohydrates and sugars, exercising, and monitoring your blood sugar annually.

What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

Dr. John Cheng: Type 1 diabetes differs from type 2 because type 1 is not preventable, it results because the body is unable to produce insulin. Conversely, type 2 has been found to be directly associated with a poor diet, inactivity, and a high BMI according to CDC diabetes fact sheet 2018.

Can diabetes be cured?

Dr. John Cheng: For Type 1 Diabetes, there is currently no cure, there are just medications that can help manage the disease progression. For Type 2 Diabetes, healthy diet and exercise may prevent this condition from developing or progressing.

Why are there more and more people with diabetes?

Dr. John Cheng: More people are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes due to the influx of inactivity, high processed food diets, and the average BMI of our nation increasing.

If someone has been recently diagnosed with diabetes, what should they do?

Dr. John Cheng: First they need to talk with their physician to come up with a plan of action. Normally, for type 2 diabetes, they begin lifestyle modifications such as increasing physical activity, limiting processed foods, and limiting sugar and carbohydrate intake. The medication Metformin is prescribed in conjunction with these lifestyle modifications. Close monitoring of the patient’s blood sugar is initiated. The patients HgbA1C will only be monitored every 3-6 months. If necessary, insulin will be added to the treatment. Type 1 diabetes plan of action is similar. Healthy eating, exercise, and frequent blood sugar monitoring are also initiated. However, they will immediately begin insulin and will not take Metformin.

How is low blood sugar treated?

Dr. John Cheng: Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, is initially treated with a glucose tablet, hard candy, or something that has sugar in it such as fruit juice, soda, or milk.

How is high blood sugar treated?

Dr. John Cheng: High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, can be treated with insulin which will bring the blood sugar down the fastest. However, exercising will also be helpful to lower blood sugar. The patient should look out for the symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis which occurs when the patient keeps their blood sugar too high and results in abdominal pain, excessive thirst, frequent urination, shortness of breath, fruity-scented breath, and confusion. This is an emergent situation, and the patient must get to an emergency room immediately.

What foods and beverages are safe for diabetics?

Dr. John Cheng: A diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, less added sugar, and no trans fats. I recommend not drinking beverages with sugar or artificial sugar.

What happens if diabetes goes untreated or becomes worse?

Dr. John Cheng: If diabetes goes untreated, it will result in damage to the blood vessels resulting in nephropathy (damage to the kidneys), neuropathy (damage to the nerves), and retinopathy (damage to the blood vessels of the eyes).

If you would like to schedule an appointment because you want to check your blood sugar, or if you currently have diabetes and want treatment options, then please contact us so we can schedule your appointment.