Diabetes Mellitus is a disease which leads to high blood sugar level in blood. Pancreas makes a hormone “Insulin” which transports the sugar into the body tissues including muscles cells, to be utilized for energy. Type 1 diabetes is due to deficiency of insulin due to destruction of insulin producing beta cells in pancreas, which usually manifests in first or second decade of life. Type 2 diabetes is due to resistance against action of insulin due to certain hormones and factors secreted by excessive belly fat cells. In diabetes high blood sugar along with high cholesterol act just like sludge in water pipes and clogs the arteries. This blockage in arteries leads to disruption of oxygen supply to the vital organs and cause heart attacks, paralysis due to stroke, loss of vision, kidney failure and loss of lower limbs.
Good news is that diabetes can be prevented by healthy lifestyle of eating balanced diet and exercise. American Diabetes Association recommends screening for diabetes by checking fasting blood sugar annually at age of 45 or even earlier in high risk patients. Once diagnosed, Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with pills, injectable GLP-1 analogues (these agents help to lose weight also), Insulin or combination of above, while Type 1 Diabetes is managed by Insulin. Patient’s ability to self monitor Blood glucose is key to success of any diabetes regimen. Minimally invasive blood glucose monitoring systems are available, which usually require finger pricking but alternate painless sites can also be used. There is continuous glucose monitoring system (CGMS) available. CGMS uses an under-the-skin sensor to measure glucose levels (without pricking each time) every one to five minutes. CGMS provides better understanding of glucose patterns especially overnight, after eating and during exercise. Insulin can be given by injections with very thin and short needles, by handy pens with minimally invasive pen needles or through Insulin pumps, which eliminates the pricks for injections.
Endocrinologists are doctors who have minimum of two years specialized training to be expert in field of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. Patient education, self-management, motivation and behavior modification is key to success in diabetes control. This can be achieved with the help of Certified Diabetes Educators trained by American Diabetes Association and qualified medical nutrition therapists under the guidance of an Endocrinologist.
Below you will find few links for patient education handouts and resources developed by National Societies in the field of Endocrinology and Diabetes.
General diabetes education tools