Q&A: Living with diabetes

Every 21 seconds another individual is diagnosed with diabetes in the United States. More than 30 million adults and children have diabetes, which is the seventh most deadly disease in the U.S., claiming 80,000 lives per year.

ParentingNH reached out to the experts at Amoskeag Health, in Manchester, to learn more about this growing pandemic. Our experts:

  • Barbara Conneally, BSN, RN, CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) at Amoskeag Health. A nurse for 46 years, she has spent 21 years at Amoskeag Health and 15 years as a CDE.
  • Kerry Roulo, RN, Specialty Services Manager/Certificate Diabetes Educator Level 1 at Amoskeag Health. A nurse for 35 years, she’s been at Amoskeag Health for four years.
  • Both Conneally and Roulo are members of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

What is diabetes?

It is a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood and urine.

What are the differences between Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes — also called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes — is often diagnosed in children, teens and young adults but can develop at any age. If you have type 1 diabetes, your pancreas stops making insulin or makes very little insulin. Type 2 diabetes often appears as a chronic condition in middle age or older adults and is thought to be related to lifestyle factors and obesity. Type 2 diabetes is on the rise with children and young adults mostly due to lack of exercise and obesity.

What happens in type 2 diabetes?

The body does not make or use insulin well. It begins with insulin resistance, which means cells aren’t responding to insulin (by letting sugar into the cell) even though the body is still making the hormone. Blood sugar rises in the bloodstream and urine.

What are some of the symptoms people with type 2 diabetes experience?

When blood sugars are high, usually occurring slowly over time, patients can experience increase in thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision and headache (tiredness, hunger, trouble thinking or concentrating).

How is type 2 diabetes treated?

Treatments are geared towards keeping the blood sugars within a normal range agreed upon by you and your Provider. Some of the treatments for type 2 diabetes include lifestyle changes such as healthy eating, exercise, 7-10% weight loss if excess weight is present and taking medications correctly if prescribed.

Diabetes treatments have changed dramatically in the last decades, with a plethora of medications available for treatment of type 2 diabetes today that improve mortality.

What is next?

Patient education, empowerment, lifestyle prevention and treatment.  There is evidence that diabetes can be prevented, or at least postponed in those at high risk.

Visit amoskeaghealth.org.

Categories: Health