Q&A: Diabetes Defined

A Parrish Medical Center Certified Diabetes Educator Helps You Understand This All-Too Common Condition

Parrish Medical Center is proud to offer Brevard County’s most comprehensive hospital-based diabetes education program, which met the needs of 351 North Brevard patients last year alone.The program has earned The Joint Commission’s gold-seal certification and is recognized by the American Diabetes Association.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use glucose (or sugar) for fuel. There are several types of diabetes.Type 1 diabetes exists when the pancreas produces no insulin. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by a decrease in insulin production and/or reduced insulin sensitivity in the body. Type 2 is the most common, accounting for 90to 95 percent of all diabetes cases. During pregnancy, gestational diabetes can develop, placing the mother and fetus at risk for complications if not controlled. Prediabetes is a condition that can occur prior to the onset of diabetes and is an early warning sign that diabetes is imminent if lifestyle changes are not made soon.

What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?

The most common signs and symptoms are increased thirst,frequent urination, fatigue and blurred vision. Increased hunger,numbness and tingling in the hands or feet, unexplained weight loss, irritability, slow-healing wound sand frequent infections also can indicate an increase in blood sugar levels. Quite often,though, there are no symptoms at all.

What can happen when diabetes is not controlled?

The long-term complications may be seen from head to toe and involve the circulatory and nervous systems. Stroke, heart disease, eye disease (retinopathy), hypertension, peripheral artery disease, amputation and kidney disease (nephropathy), as well as numbness and tingling or pain in the hands or feet, digestive and urinary difficulties, and sexual dysfunction awesome examples. However, these types of complications can be greatly minimized with good blood sugar control.

What is the treatment for diabetes?

For type 1, insulin therapy is the only treatment.For type 2 diabetes, the treatment consists of lifestyle changes that promote improved self care. Monitoring your blood sugar routinely,taking prescribed medication (if needed), following an individualized meal plan and exercising regularly are the key steps toward successfully managing diabetes.

What are the risk factors for diabetes, and can it be prevented?

Heredity or a family history of diabetes as well as obesity and inactivity are common risk factors.Age, ethnic origin and a history of gestational diabetes increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but maintaining a healthy weight and following a regular exercise program can reduce the risk.

Live Well With Diabetes

  • Find out if you’re at risk. Take our FREE, confidential diabetes assessment (Diabetes Aware) online by clicking here.
  • Get diagnosed. To learn more about preventing or living with diabetes, orto schedule a screening, call the diabetes education department at Parrish Medical Center at 321-268-6699.
  • Get educated. Diabetes classes are held regularly at PMC and the Parrish Healthcare Center at Port St. John. To learn more, visit our calendar and search for “diabetes.”