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Ask an Expert: Diabetes Education Specialists Discuss Diabetes

Diabetes Education
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are chronic conditions in which the body cannot properly store and use glucose for energy.

Published on November 10, 2020

Below are answers to some common questions about diabetes.

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are chronic conditions in which the body cannot properly store and use glucose for energy, according to Jessica Fisher, diabetic educator, and Pati Cox, certified diabetes care and education specialist at Phelps Health. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. A person with type 1 diabetes must take insulin to survive. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes insulin, but the body has a hard time processing it. This is called insulin resistance.

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes can begin with no clear symptoms. Typically a person’s blood sugars are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.

What are symptoms of diabetes?

Someone with diabetes may not have any symptoms at all in the beginning, and no two people are alike. Symptoms of high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, may include feeling tired and sleepy, having to urinate frequently or being very thirsty, as well as blurred vision, a delay in wound healing or unexplained weight loss. Symptoms of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, may include feeling shaky or dizzy, sweating, feeling lightheaded, extreme hunger and confusion.

What factors increase the likelihood of developing diabetes?

  • Age 45 and older
  • Overweight
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Lack of or changes to physical activity
  • High total cholesterol and high triglycerides
  • Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • History of a heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure or chest pain
  • Blood glucose (sugar) levels outside of the normal range
  • Smoking

How can someone reduce their risk of diabetes?

  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Increase your activity or movement
  • Take your medications as prescribed
  • Talk with your primary care provider
  • Know your family medical history
  • If you smoke, consider enrolling in a smoking cessation class

Am I at greater risk for other medical conditions if I have diabetes?

Yes, you are at greater risk for developing heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, chronic kidney disease, complications of the eye such as blindness, depression, skin and sexual disorders, foot complications and numbness or weakness caused by nerve damage.

Need a Referral?

Phelps Health diabetes educators can accept a referral from any primary care provider, internal medicine doctor or endocrinologist and can be reached at (573) 458-7314. Click here to learn more about diabetes.

Found in: Care Diabetes Education Health Services