Understanding Diabetes: Symptoms, Treatment and Support

Many of us either know someone who has diabetes or are battling the condition ourselves. With blood sugars to check, insulin or other medications to take, and a host of other things to worry about, managing diabetes can seem overwhelming at times.

Dr. H.N. Nagaraja, an endocrinologist with Noblesville Diabetes and Endocrinology, joins us today with some important information on diabetes—including common symptoms, risk factors, treatments and support.

Diabetes refers to a group of diseases that cause an overabundance of blood glucose—commonly called blood sugar—in the body. Glucose is important to our health because it provides energy to cells, but can be detrimental when not properly processed by the body. Diabetes is a serious condition that, if left untreated, can lead to blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure or even amputation.

Diabetes comes in four forms: Type 1, Type 2, pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are considered chronic conditions, while pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes are potentially reversible conditions.

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are nearly 26 million people in the US—about 8.3 percent of the population—living with diabetes. This figure is broken down to nearly 20 million diagnosed cases and seven million undiagnosed cases. In addition, there’s an estimated 79 million people living with pre-diabetes.
Early detection and treatment of diabetes is key to preventing complications. Some symptoms of diabetes are mild, while others are more noticeable. Common symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes include:

  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Feeling hungry although you have eaten.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal.

If you or a loved one have any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk with your primary care physician. He or she can check you out and refer you to a specialist if further testing is necessary.

Pre-diabetes often shows no signs. Therefore, it’s important to know the risk factors and inform your doctor if you notice any of the risk factors. The most common risk factors for pre-diabetes include:

  • A body mass index of 25 or greater.
  • An inactive lifestyle.
  • Being over the age of 45.
  • A family history of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
  • Being of African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian-American or Pacific Islander descent.
  • Living with high blood pressure.

Most often, women who have gestational diabetes—or diabetes during pregnancy—do not exhibit symptoms. For this reason, it’s normal for women to be tested for gestational diabetes during pregnancy, typically around 24-weeks gestation.

Advanced care, treatments and support

Riverview Hospital Advanced Wound Care
Many people living with diabetes are in need of advanced care for complications such as a diabetic foot condition. This occurs as a result of nerve or blood vessel damage because of elevated glucose levels in the blood. With a diabetic foot condition, there’s a loss of feeling or sensation in the feet. If left untreated, this can lead to ulcers or infections that are slow to heal.

Riverview Hospital advanced wound care services provide innovative therapies that can help people with complex wounds heal faster. With this service, there’s a team approach to the treatment and care of complex wounds. Podiatrists, infectious disease specialists and other clinicians partner to determine the best course of treatment for each person. For more information on advanced wound care services at Riverview Hospital or to make an appointment, call 317.776.7407.

Riverview Hospital Direct Access Laboratory Testing
Riverview Hospital offers a variety of direct access health and wellness profiles. These tests are available directly to consumers and include a wide array of options, including a diabetic profile that measures A1c and estimated average glucose. The cost for this blood test is $15.

A1C screens for diabetes and gives a picture of the average amount of glucose in the blood over the last few months. Estimated average glucose can help doctors determine if your blood glucose level is within a healthy range, as well as test for hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Direct access tests can be ordered online at riverview.org or by calling 317.776.7241. Tests can be performed at your convenience during Riverview Hospital outpatient laboratory business hours. You’re encouraged to discuss your test results with your doctor.

Diabetes Self-management Classes
The Riverview Hospital Diabetes Center offers diabetes self-management classes—led by certified diabetes educators—for those living with the condition. Participants can get useful information on coping with diabetes, including:

•    Tips for traveling and dining out.
•    Preventing, recognizing and treating low blood sugar.
•    Creating balance and routine among eating, physical activity, medication and blood sugar monitoring.
•    Tips for preventing or delaying diabetes-related complications.

A physician’s referral is required to participate in the diabetes self-management classes. For more information, contact 317.776.7233.

Noblesville Diabetes Support Group
Riverview Hospital hosts a monthly Noblesville Diabetes Support Group. These meetings are designed to educate people living with diabetes, as well as friends, family members and caregivers on best care and treatment options. Each meeting features a speaker focusing on a different topic related to living with diabetes.

Diabetes Support Group meetings take place on the second Thursday of every month at 7 pm in the Krieg DeVault Conference Room on the lower level of the Riverview Women’s Pavilion. For more information, contact the Riverview Medical Group Diabetes Center at 317.776.7233.