Diabetes: Types, Symptoms, Treatment and Management


What is Diabetes?

Diabetes affects millions of people. It is a serious lifelong health problem that can be managed. The pancreas (the organ that makes the hormone insulin) may have been damaged or is not working properly. Insulin is required by the body to move glucose (a form of sugar from food) into the cells to produce energy. Your body needs the right amount of insulin and glucose all the time to work properly.

A treatment plan is needed to keep your insulin and glucose in balance. Most of the daily care of diabetes (95-99%) is self-care. Caring for diabetes is different than caring for other conditions. You must take an active part in the self-management process. Keeping your blood glucose as close to normal as possible lowers your risk for serious health problems and complications associated with diabetes.

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes is caused by beta cell destruction of the pancreas. It is an autoimmune disorder that has shut down the pancreas’s ability to produce insulin. Therefore, insulin must be provided to help the body process glucose from the food we eat.

Type 2 Diabetes is associated with multiple disorders. It can be caused by an insulin resistance, insulin deficiency, or increased glucose production by the liver. Treatment varies according to the body’s need.

Warning signs of diabetes include:

  • Increased thirst
  • increased urination
  • non-healing wounds
  • increased hunger
  • fatigue
  • infection
  • weight loss.

Speak to your health care provider if you experience any of these warning signs.

Risk factors for Diabetes

Anyone can get diabetes. However, certain factors put you at higher risk, such as being overweight or obese, family history, increasing age, lack of physical activity, autoimmune disorders, stress or trauma, gestational diabetes, certain medications such as steroids, ethnicity, women with PCOS, heart disease, hypertension, decreased HDL and increased triglycerides.

Treatment of Diabetes

Treatment plans for controlling diabetes are individualized. The plan should be developed to emphasize self-management. Your diabetes care provider will help you decide which type of treatment is best for you. Make sure you follow the guidelines given to you by your diabetes team and follow-up with them on a regular basis.

The following are important methods of treatment:

  • Glucose Self-Monitoring
  • Increased Activity
  • Medications (if prescribed by provider)
  • Eating Healthy
  • Having a strong support system

Diabetes Management

If you have diabetes, the team at the UPMC Western Maryland Center for Clinical Resources can be your partner in keeping your diabetes under control and living life to the fullest. Our team is a knowledgeable source for education and information about diabetes self-management. We work closely with your primary care provider to promote your overall good health.

We can show you how to monitor your blood sugar, teach you how to make dietary and lifestyle changes to control your diabetes, help manage your medications and provide encouragement and motivation along the way. Whether you are newly diagnosed or seem to constantly struggle with your diabetes, our team will tailor a plan to meet your individual needs. We also can help you navigate the healthcare system and coordinate your care.

Living Well with Diabetes

A comprehensive program, Living Well with Diabetes, covers the many aspects of diabetes self-management and glycemic control. It’s an enjoyable day filled with practical information and tools you can use daily to make managing your diabetes easier. The teaching team includes a Certified Diabetic Educator, Registered Nurse, Registered Dietitian, pharmacist and Wellness Coach. A family member or support person is welcome and encouraged to attend with you. This program is accredited by the American Diabetes Association and is offered two to three times each month. Individual sessions are available if needed.

Nutrition Counseling

Another important resource is Nutrition Counseling. Provided by a registered dietitian, Nutrition Counseling is a supportive process to set priorities, establish goals, and create individualized action plans which acknowledge and foster responsibility for self-care.

All services at the UPMC Western Maryland Center for Clinical Resources do require a referral from a physician.

Diabetes Support Groups

Come share your experiences and learn tips for managing diabetes. Whether you have been newly diagnosed with diabetes or have lived with it for years, mark your calendar for our diabetes support group meetings. Facilitators for the groups include certified diabetes educator Jennifer Perrin, RDN, LDN, CDE.

The UPMC Western Maryland Type 2 Diabetes Support Group meets the first Tuesday of each month from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the UPMC Western Maryland auditorium.

The UPMC Western Maryland Type 1 Diabetes Support Group meets on the fourth Thursday of the month from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the UPMC Western Maryland auditorium.

For more information, please call Jennifer Perrin at 240-964-8676.

No referral is needed for these free support groups.

Role of Diabetes Management Care Coordinators

  • Work closely with patients with Type 2 Diabetes in a variety of settings which include primary care practices, community outreach clinics, and CCR.
  • No cost or limitation for the frequency of interactions.
  • Identify and address social needs impeding patient success such as:
    • Food insecurity
    • Transportation
    • Housing
    • Lack of insurance
    • Medications
  • Will maintain telephonic communication with patients to reinforce diabetes goals and provide encouragement and support for patient engagement in a healthy lifestyle.
  • Tele-monitoring for blood glucose on select patients.

 Ask your Primary Care Provider for a referral for Diabetes Self-Management Education or call the Center for Clinical Resources at 240-964-8787 for more information.