NECC provides extensive healthcare among the most disadvantaged and underserved
communities of L.A. County. Our clinics can screen, educate and support those most in
need to better their quality of life. Be healthy, be happy because, “the groundwork of all happiness is health” (James Leigh Hunt).
What is diabetes?
The majority of food that we eat is converted into glucose. The pancreas is responsible for producing a hormone called insulin. Insulin is a necessary hormone in the body that converts sugar, starches and other food into glucose, which is needed daily for energy. Diabetes is a condition that affects the body’s ability to produce and/or accept insulin resulting in high levels of blood glucose. When glucose builds up in the blood stream instead of going into cells, it can lead to severe health complications.
What are the types of diabetes?
Type 1, when the body produces little to no insulin
Type 2, when the body’s cells resist the effects of insulin
Gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults (previously known as juvenile diabetes). Diabetics suffering from Type 1 are unable to produce enough insulin because the body’s immune system destroys pancreatic beta cells.5 Insulin is needed for the building and breaking up of tissues in the muscle, liver and fat cells. It’s responsible for the total quantity of protein, and promoting storage for fat.1
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type and it occurs when the insulin created is not properly used in the body. Type 2 diabetes can often improve with regular exercise, healthy diet and weight loss. It is treated with medication, insulin injections, or a combination of both.2
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that is only diagnosed in pregnant women. Gestational diabetes causes the body to develop glucose intolerance. Women who develop this type of diabetes during pregnancy can have severe health complications if left untreated, including complications in their fetuses. These women are also at an increased risk of developing diabetes later in life.
What are the Symptoms of diabetes?
People with diabetes may experience some of the following symptoms3
Because of the slow onset of symptoms of this disease it is very important that anyone with the above symptoms consult with their primary care physician.
Who is at Risk for Developing Diabetes?
Diabetes can affect anyone. There are both genetic and environmental components to the development of diabetes. In fact, one in four L.A. County residents 65 or older has diabetes. 7 However, some risk factors include:
Type 2 diabetes has increased in the Latino, African American and Asians/Pacific Islander communities.7
Why is it Important to Get Tested?
Diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death in L.A. County. 7 If left untreated diabetes can lead to the following health complications:
Testing for diabetes can be done in two ways. Your primary care physician can perform either a rapid blood test, which is done with the prick of a finger, or a Hemoglobin A1C test, which is done by drawing blood. The difference is that a Hemoglobin A1C test gives the average blood glucose control for a 3 month period versus taking a quick blood sugar count. Your healthcare provider may also test your kidneys and urine.
Diabetic patients must take responsibility for your day-to-day care by partaking in the following activities:
Diabetics must also schedule regular checkups with your primary care physician to monitor symptoms, blood sugar control, medication compliance/tolerability, and progression. Diabetes is a progressive disease, but symptoms and complications can be delayed with proper control of blood sugar. Your primary care provider is an important partner in managing diabetes. Routine visits and open communication is critical.
How to Lower your Risk
If you or your family members have diabetes, you may be able to prevent or control it if you watch your diet, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Similarly, diabetics also need to monitor their blood pressure and cholesterol levels, because both pose as a major cardiac risk factor.
All diabetics need to carefully monitor their diet. They need to monitor the amount of sugar they ingest in all forms – plain sugar, fruits, starches, and carbohydrates. Diabetics should try to eat fresh vegetables, lean meats and limited amounts of fruit. According to American Diabetes Association food recommendations, a good place to start “is at about 45-60 grams of carbohydrate at a meal.” Depending on your body you may need more or less quantities, consult with your primary care physician on specifics.
Diabetics should exercise to helps control blood sugar. Exercise improves the body’s receptivity to insulin. Maintaining a healthy weight is part of the health plan. Although all diabetics should consult your primary care physician the Center for Disease Control recommends that if “you are not accustomed to physical activity, you may want to start with a little exercise… such as, walking 10 or 20 minutes each day.” 4