If you’re one of the millions of Americans with diabetes, you have an elevated risk of developing complications that have serious health implications. Some of the more common diabetes-related complications include:
- Nerve damage (neuropathy)
- Vision complications
- Heart disease and stroke
- Kidney damage
- Oral health diseases
But by learning more about the importance of managing diabetes, you can take steps to lower your risk of suffering from one or more complications.
At Beth and Howard Braver, MD, our team of physicians specializes in helping patients in Aventura and Hollywood, Florida, manage their diabetes. Take a moment to learn more about diabetes and why you shouldn’t leave this disease untreated.
What do I need to know about diabetes?
Your pancreas makes the hormone insulin to help you convert foods into glucose. Your body stores glucose to use later as energy.
Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, the most common forms of the disease, affect your ability to make or use insulin. When not managed, both types of diabetes can lead to elevated blood sugar.
Type 1 diabetes, which affects about 5% of people, stops your body from making insulin. People with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin, and this autoimmune disease is not reversible.
About 95% of people with diabetes have Type 2. This type of diabetes isn’t an autoimmune disease, and some people can reverse the condition with proper management.
When you have Type 2 diabetes, your body makes insulin, but you become resistant to the hormone, and your body can’t convert blood sugar to energy. This causes your blood sugar levels to rise to dangerous levels.
Type 2 diabetes can take years to develop. Most people are first diagnosed as insulin-resistant, then prediabetic before developing Type 2 diabetes. Certain factors increase your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes, including:
- Being overweight
- Being 45 years or older
- Having insulin resistance or prediabetes
- Not being physically active
- Not eating a balanced, whole foods diet
- Having high blood pressure
- Having unhealthy cholesterol levels
- Having a family history of diabetes
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome
- Being a smoker
By taking steps to manage your Type 2 diabetes, you can improve your symptoms, improve your overall health, and possibly reverse the disease.
Why do I need to manage my diabetes?
When you have diabetes but don’t manage your disease, your blood sugar can get too high or too low. This can lead to serious complications, from the more common, like the ones listed above, to lesser-known complications, including:
- Osteoporosis (bone loss)
- Gout and arthritis
- Shoulder stiffness, pain, and loss of mobility
- Increased risk of respiratory infections
- Cognitive dysfunction (e.g., dementia)
- Skin and hair issues, like skin infections, dry, itchy skin, and hair loss
- Erectile dysfunction
- Digestive problems
- Urinary tract issues, like urinary incontinence
- Problems with smell, taste, and hearing
In the most serious cases, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to coma or death. By managing your diabetes, you minimize your risk of developing many complications.
Diabetes is a serious health condition. As such, it’s not something to manage without professional help.
How can I get help treating diabetes?
At Beth and Howard Braver, MD, we use an integrative approach to treating diabetes. We use your medical history and personal preferences to create a customized diabetes treatment plan for you.
Research shows most patients with Type 2 diabetes experience dramatic improvements by making key lifestyle changes, such as:
- Achieving a healthy body weight
- Exercising regularly
- Making healthy dietary changes (e.g., avoiding processed foods)
- Regularly monitoring your blood sugar
- Avoiding alcohol
- Avoiding beverages high in sugar
- Quitting smoking
We help you evaluate which lifestyle interventions are realistic for you. Then we help you design a step-by-step plan to make manageable changes over time. Some Type 2 diabetics may also benefit from medication or insulin.
As you make changes and implement your plan, we stay in touch, monitoring your blood sugar levels and helping you tweak your treatment plan as needed as your condition improves.
Do you want to learn more about managing diabetes and how we help? Schedule an appointment with one of our providers in Aventura or Hollywood, Florida.