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Diabetes FAQ's

Diabetes Information

What is is diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body is unable either to produce enough or to properly use insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Insulin helps the body regulate the level of glucose (the simplest form of sugar) in the blood and the rate of glucose absorption into individual cells. Glucose is used by the cells to produce energy. Furthermore, glucose serves as the sole food for the brain; therefore, glucose level must be kept within a particular range to enable normal functioning of the brain.

Why has diabetes become prevalent?

Advancing age of the population, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are some of the factors that contribute to the increase in diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes. If you are overweight, have a family history of diabetes or have a prior history of gestational diabetes, then you belong to the groups at particularly high risk for developing the disease.

How do I know if I have diabetes?

You can actually test yourself for diabetes by purchasing some of the diabetes blood testing kits at a drugstore. However, it is highly recommended that you consult a health care professional especially if you have not yet been diagnosed for diabetes. Some of the symptoms of diabetes include fatigue, weight loss, frequent urination, extreme thirst, feeling hungry most of the time, and eyesight problems.

Do you or someone you know have diabetes? At Aventiv Research we have diabetes clinical studies available for participation. To learn more about this opportunity visit our Columbus diabetes page today!

What are the different types of diabetes?

The two major types of diabetes are Type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and Type 2 or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Type 1 occurs when the body's immune system malfunctions such that it attacks and destroys the pancreas, particularly the beta-cells responsible for producing insulin. Type 2 happens when the pancreas produce only small amounts of insulin, much less than required by the cells, or when cells do not respond (i.e. become resistant) to the action of insulin. Type 2 diabetes affects more people (about 90 to 95 per cent) than Type 1 diabetes.

Is diabetes curable?

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for diabetes yet. However, this disorder is manageable. To effectively manage diabetes, you must educate yourself about the disease. You can get diabetes information from books, and reliable internet sources. You will also need to alter your lifestyle, that is, exercise, smoking cessation, and weight loss are some of the changes that contribute to effective diabetes management. As a diabetic, you must not fail to routinely monitor your blood sugar level at home. There are also available medications that your doctor might prescribe to help you regulate the disease.

What kinds of complications are associated with diabetes?

The complications of diabetes fall into two major categories, microvascular (involving small blood vessels) and macrovascular (involving large blood vessels).

Microvascular complications include eye damage (retinopathy), nerve damage (neuropathy), and kidney damage (nephropathy). These conditions can range in severity from those that cause no symptoms (such as protein in the urine) to moderate (impotence, digestive difficulty, foot ulcers) to devastating (blindness, dialysis, amputation). The best way to prevent microvascular complications is to maintain blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. In addition, diabetics should obtain routine eye exams, and consult a physician when they notice any symptoms linked to diabetic complications, such as numbness or tingling in the feet, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal discomfort.

Macrovascular complications include atherosclerosis of large blood vessels, which can predispose to angina and heart attack, as well as stroke. It is not clear if blood glucose levels have much of an effect on these problems, but high cholesterol levels and blood pressure definitely do, and should be treated aggressively in people with diabetes.

The above complications apply to people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and usually take years to develop. People with type 1 diabetes can also develop ketoacidosis, an acute condition in which the absence of insulin causes extremely high blood sugar levels and the accumulation of ketones (which often give the breath a fruity smell) in the blood. This constitutes a medical emergency that usually requires hospitalization.

What is a hemoglobin A1c level?

Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. Glucose can attach to hemoglobin, creating a molecule called hemoglobin A1c. This process is dependent upon the amount of sugar in the blood, so that the higher the blood sugar, the higher the percentage of hemoglobin A1c. Since red blood cells survive for approximately 120 days, the hemoglobin A1c level gives your doctor a good idea of your average blood sugar control over the previous 3 months. A normal hemoglobin A1c level varies a little depending upon which lab does the testing, but most people agree that anything over 6.5% is too high.

How often do I need to get my eyes checked?

People with diabetes are at risk for many complications involving the eyes, including blindness. Therefore, they should see an eye doctor regularly. Specifically, patients with type 1 diabetes should start seeing an eye doctor yearly after they've been diagnosed for five years, while people with type 2 diabetes should start going yearly from the time they are diagnosed. Any diabetic with eye symptoms, such as blurry vision, should see an eye doctor immediately. Pregnant women often need to go once per trimester.

How can I prevent foot sores that might lead to amputation?

People with diabetes often have reduced sensation in their feet, which means that they can step on something sharp or otherwise hurt themselves without realizing it. This puts them at risk of developing sores on their feet. If not caught in time, these lesions can become infected, and in extreme cases may require limb amputation. Thus, proper foot care is essential for diabetics.

It is very important for diabetics to clean and dry their feet every day. While doing this, they should look for sores or breaks in the skin on their feet. Toenails should be filed and the corners should not be cut. Diabetics should be careful to wear low-heeled shoes that fit well, and should never go barefoot. If sores, redness, blisters, pain or breaks in the skin develop, a doctor should be consulted immediately. Many diabetics see podiatrists regularly for help with foot care.

Will diabetes shorten my life?

The average lifespan for people with diabetes is shorter than for nondiabetics. Most of the increased risk of death comes from the complications of diabetes, including heart, kidney, and nerve damage. Fortunately, we now know that careful control of blood sugar levels can greatly reduce the risk of most of these devastating complications. Additionally, careful attention to keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the normal range also improves lifespan for people with diabetes. As more and better therapies and strategies for monitoring blood sugar levels are brought into use in the next few years, we can expect that the situation will improve even more.

Diabetes Clinical Trials

Aventiv Research is currently conducting a wide array of clinical trials targeted towards certain conditions. You may be eligible to participate in one of our diabetes clinical trials and contribute to the development and approval of a new drug or treatment. As a participant, there is no cost to you at any point during the study. Browse our clinical trials being conducted now to find the study best suited for you.

Aventiv Research performs diabetes clinical trials in Columbus to evaluate investigational medications from pharmaceutical companies on diabetic subjects under FDA-approved study protocols. If you or someone you know is interested in participating in a diabetes study, fill out the diabetes study form or call us to learn more about this great opportunity to be involved in diabetes research.