September 17, 2020
In our practice, we often get asked the questions, “What is diabetes?” and “What type of diabetes do I have?” For many patients, it is actually not a simple answer.
Diabetes is a complex metabolic disorder in which the body is unable to produce insulin, or has a decreased ability to use insulin, or both. As humans, we need insulin to live as it allows us to feed every cell in our body. Insulin is like the key that opens the lock on human cells. Our body converts everything we eat into sugar, and we need insulin to allow sugar or glucose into our cells to feed them. Without it we would not be able to feed our body, and eventually it would lead to cellular death.
Diabetes is classified into four main types: Type 1, Type 2, Gestational, and secondary or other specific types of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes can be caused by autoimmune diseases. The insulin-producing cells are destroyed by an autoimmune attack, and the body is no longer able to produce insulin, resulting in severely high blood sugars.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of insulin resistance and other metabolic disorders that make the body not use insulin effectively. Over time, the body produces less insulin leading to high blood sugars. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for nearly 90% of all diabetes cases.
Gestational diabetes is a form of impaired glucose tolerance, meaning insulin does not work as well as it should due to hormones associated with pregnancy.
Other types of diabetes result from specific genetic conditions, such as MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young), or can be the result of surgery, medications, infections, pancreatic disease, and other illnesses.
Prediabetes, also called impaired glucose tolerance, is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. The estimated prevalence of prediabetes and diabetes among California adults has significantly increased since 2013 (1). In 2017, it was estimated that 3.1 million adults in California were diagnosed with diabetes, representing approximately 1 out of every 9.3 adults (1). It was also estimated that one out of every six adults in California were diagnosed with prediabetes (1).
A study in 2016 by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research estimated that the prediabetes rate in the Central Valley was as high as 47%. It was sited as high as 68% among those aged 55-69-years-old in Fresno County alone.
It is not just in the Central Valley. The CDC 2020 data estimates that 34.2 million Americans, which is about 1 in 10 individuals, have diabetes (2). 88 million Americans, or one in three, have prediabetes (2).
Unfortunately, diabetes is one of the leading causes of heart and kidney disease—not to mention blindness, blood vessel and nerve problems, and even depression.
However, there is a lot from an individual level that patients can do to improve their health.
The providers and staff at University Diabetes and Endocrine Specialists strive to educate our patients about the disease process and provide patients with skills that can help improve their diabetes.
Our team of providers has the expertise needed to help patients with all diabetes care and management levels.
Our office also offers diabetes self-management classes and individual visits available with our certified diabetes educators and dietitians to help patients navigate their diagnosis and provide them with educational tools to allow patients to take steps to improve their health and well-being.
Diabetes Self-Management classes are now being offered virtually and are held Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Please call the office for more information or to register for the next session at (559) 323-9236.
For additional information about our office and providers, please visit University Diabetes and Endocrine Specialists.
Taylor CW, Downie C, Mercado V. (2019). Burden of Diabetes in California. California Department of Public Health. Sacramento, California.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2020. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services; 2020.
About the Author: April Herd PA-C is a certified diabetes educator and a provider at University Diabetes and Endocrine Specialists.