Diabetes is a collection of diseases that affect how your body uses blood glucose for energy. When you have one of the diabetic conditions, you aren’t using glucose effectively, and high levels in your blood cause damage throughout your body. Dr. Bijal Katarki and the team at Dominion Family Healthcare in Reston, Virginia help you manage your diabetes with a personalized plan to match your lifestyle. Call today, or book an appointment online.
You may know of the connection between diabetes and insulin, but many people remain uncertain about exactly how that connection works. In fact, there are different types of diabetes that complicate the relationship between insulin and blood glucose.
Insulin is a hormone – a chemical messenger that transmits orders from the brain to the body. One of its jobs is to tell cells throughout your body when to open and accept blood glucose for nourishment. Any condition that affects the transmission of these messages can lead to a diabetic condition.
If, for example, your body produced no insulin, there’s no open-up message for cells. Glucose levels build up in your blood, and when these are high, they can cause damage to your blood vessels, nerves, and even your eyes. This is called type 1 diabetes, and patients with this condition require supplementary insulin injections. Insulin can’t be taken orally, since it won’t survive the digestion process.
Type 2 diabetics develop a condition called insulin resistance. Perhaps the best analogy is that the cells stop listening to insulin message, so more insulin is needed before they pay attention. If this condition continues, your body reaches a point at which it can no longer make enough insulin to complete the process, and once again glucose builds up in the blood.
A reversible condition called prediabetes comes before type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, and gestational diabetes may develop during pregnancy, though it often passes after childbirth.
Except for gestational diabetes, prediabetes, and rare cases of type 2 diabetes, there’s no cure for the condition. Most type 1 and type 2 patients require diabetic management to keep blood glucose conditions stable. All diabetics can benefit from increased physical activity and a heart-healthy diet, but this may not be enough to keep diabetes in check.
Supplemental insulin injections work for both type 1 and 2 – it’s essential for type 1 patients – but many type 2 patients have other options. Metformin is usually the first medication prescribed for type 2 patients. It works by changing the way your digestive system breaks down carbohydrates, reducing the amounts of glucose entering your bloodstream. Other medications, oral or injectable, can stimulate insulin manufacture or make your cells more sensitive to insulin.
The right treatment for you is often a matter of trial and error, so having a partner such as the team at Dominion Family Healthcare is the best way to manage your diabetes and limit its impact on your health.