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 educators Lori Johnson, BSN, RN, CDE and Jennifer Perrin, RDN, LDN, CDE.

The UPMC Western Maryland Type 2 Diabetes Support Group meets the first Tuesday of each month from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Center for Clinical Resources, Suite 300 of Medical Arts Center. For more information, please call Lori Johnson at 240-964-8789.

The UPMC Western Maryland Type 1 Diabetes Support Group meets on the fourth Thursday of the month at 4:30 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.

Bridging the Gap: Reducing Disparities in Diabetes Care

UPMC Western Maryland is one of eight program grantees supported through the new, five-year Merck Foundation initiative, “Bridging the Gap: Reducing Disparities in Diabetes Care,” to help mobilize community-based partners and improve diabetes care for vulnerable and underserved populations in the United States.

How Bridging the Gap Works

The foundation of this new initiative is providing enhanced care coordination for patients with Type 2 diabetes who are having difficulty managing their diabetes. Diabetic Management Care Coordinators will work closely with primary care providers to assess the health risks of these patients and develop a plan for improving self-management.

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.

UPMC Western Maryland, AHEC West to offer successful Diabetes Prevention Program

Across the nation, the Diabetes Prevention Program has a lot of success, and locally, Polly Tharp of Midland experienced great results. Polly is one of five participants currently finishing up the program, which has been held at the George’s Creek Library in Lonaconing. “The key to the whole thing is accountability,” Polly said. “I’ll be 77 soon, and I admit I’ve been on a lot of diets over the years. This was different. We had to keep a log, count calories and weigh in.”

Polly was pleased to report that she has dropped 15 pounds since she began last August, but, more importantly, her HA1c levels dropped from 6.2 to 5.7, which took her out of the prediabetes range.

According to the DPP Research Study, subjects in the lifestyle intervention group reduced their risk for Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. Catie Wampole, Network Director of Mountain Health Alliance and AHEC West, who coordinates the local program, said, “I think it’s important to note that all of our participants reached their goals this cohort and continue to maintain, which means every person in our group decreased their chances of being diagnosed with diabetes and are living healthier lives.”

The program is a combined 22 hours over a 12-month period: weekly for the first six months and monthly for the last six months. Each week, lessons focus on topics like healthy recipes and ways to move more. “It just makes you determined to change,” Polly said, adding, “it’s so close to home and it’s free. You’ll see the results if you take part. That’s the biggest thing I can say.”

Thanks to the combined efforts of UPMC Western Maryland and AHEC West, the diabetes prevention program is once again forming classes to help area prediabetics make changes to their lifestyle. “Our target participant is anyone who scores five or higher on the diabetes risk self-assessment or has been diagnosed with prediabetes by their provider,” said Catie.

Locations of the meetings can vary. Once the classes begin, the goals are straightforward. For the first six months, participants are expected to lose five to seven percent of their body weight and to exercise 150 minutes each week. After that, the exercise goal remains, but the weight component becomes more about maintaining.

For more information or to register for the next program, contact Catie at 301-777-9150, ext. 148.