Diabetes ABCs

Diabetes ABCs: S

Sulfonylureas
By Eileen B. Wyner, NP
Bulfinch Medical Group

S

Sulfonylureas are a class of medications used to lower blood sugar in people with Type 2 Diabetes.  These oral agents increase the production of insulin from the beta cells of the pancreas. Sulfonylureas are typically taken once or twice daily before meals and can be used alone or in combination with insulin or other Type 2 Diabetes oral medications. This class of medications may cause severe hypoglycemia if taken incorrectly.

Diabetes ABCs

Diabetes ABCs: R

Retinopathy

R

Retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes that affects the retina—the part of the  eye that creates pictures of what we see.  In some cases, blood vessels in the retina begin to swell or leak; in other cases, fragile new blood vessels develop along this part of the eye.  Either case can cause changes in vision and in extreme cases blindness.  The American Diabetes Association recommends getting an eye exam every year to check for signs of retinopathy and other eye complications.  Early detection can make treatment more effective.  Keeping your blood sugar in good control can reduce your chances of developing retinopathy.

(Content reviewed by MGH Diabetes Center)
Diabetes ABCs

Diabetes ABCs: Q

Quiet Time / Relaxation
By Paula Cerqueira, Dietetic InternQ

When you’re under stress, your body generates hormones that counteract the action of insulin, increase insulin resistance, and promote an increase in blood sugar levels. So, while you may regularly manage your blood sugar levels with diet, exercise, and medication, stress can still cause you blood sugar levels to rise.  That is why quiet time and stress management is integral to diabetes management.

The first step in stress management is not letting stress distract you from taking care of yourself.  And while exercising and eating well can relieve stress and increase energy levels, it’s also important to take a quiet moment for yourself and just breathe.  Try focusing on the positive aspects of your life and push any stress triggers out of your mind.  Breathing exercises, talking to loved ones and meditation have all proven to be successful relaxation techniques, but it’s important to find the stress-relieving activities that work for you.

Reviewed by Debra Powers, MS, RD, CDE, LDN, Senior Clinical Nutritionist
Diabetes ABCs

Diabetes ABCs: P

Pre-diabetes
By Paula Cerqueira, Dietetic Intern

P

Pre-diabetes is a condition in which a person’s blood sugar levels are higher than what is considered to be normal, but not quite high as to denote diabetes.  According to the CDC, about 1 in 3 American adults have pre-diabetes.  Of those with pre-diabetes, 1/3 to 1/2 will develop diabetes within 5-10 years without intervention.

When people are in a pre-diabetic state, they may begin to develop significant cardiovascular and nerve damage.  However, diabetes is not an inevitable diagnosis.  Pre-diabetes can serve as an opportunity to develop healthy habits to prevent the progression to Type 2 Diabetes.  With such lifestyle changes as following a healthy diet, weight loss of 5% to 10% of body weight, at least 150 minutes per week of exercise, and not smoking you may be able to bring your blood sugar level back to normal.

Reviewed by Debra Powers, MS, RD, CDE, LDN, Senior Clinical Nutritionist

Pancreas

The pancreas is a small organ located behind the stomach.  Its main function is to produce enzymes used to digest food.  The pancreas also produces insulin, a hormone the body uses to move glucose out of the blood stream and into cells for energy.  For people with diabetes, the pancreas either does not produce enough insulin (or none at all) or the body is unable to use the insulin it produces properly.

(Reviewed by MGH Diabetes Center)
Diabetes ABCs

Diabetes ABCs: O

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

O

An Oral Glucose Tolerance Test is a test done in the healthcare provider’s office to measure how the body manages glucose over time.  Though most often used to check for gestational diabetes, it can also be used to test for diabetes/pre-diabetes in people who are not pregnant.  After taking a fasting glucose reading, a sugary drink is consumed and blood sugar is checked again, usually at the one and two hour mark.  These results show how well the body handles glucose – elevated blood sugar in either check can indicate diabetes.

(Content reviewed by MGH Diabetes Center)
Diabetes ABCs

Diabetes ABCs: N

Neuropathy

N

Neuropathy is damage to the nerves, the fibers used to transmit messages from the brain to other parts of the body.  A common complication of diabetes, diabetic neuropathy can develop over time as high blood sugar damages nerve fibers.  Neuropathy can affect all parts of the body but peripheral neuropathy, the most common form of diabetic neuropathy, affects the feet, legs, arms and hands.  Symptoms can include tingling or numbness, difficulty feeling hot/cold, pain and sensitivity to touch.  Keeping your blood sugar in good control can help prevent developing or worsening neuropathy.

(Content reviewed by MGH Diabetes Center)
Diabetes ABCs

Diabetes ABCs: M

Metformin
By Eileen B. Wyner, NP
Bulfinch Medical Group

Metformin is an oral medication, also known as Glucophage, used for the management of Type 2 Diabetes. It is in a class of medications called biguanides and is considered the first drug of choice for diabetes management. It is usually taken in divided doses twice a day and may be used alone or in conjunction with other oral medications or insulin. Metformin’s method of action is to make the body work more efficiently to manage blood sugar. It helps the body’s response to insulin and decreases the amount of glucose that the liver produces and releases into the system

MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young)

By Eileen B. Wyner, NP
Bulfinch Medical Group

This is a rare form of diabetes that runs strongly in families and it is inherited from one of the parents. This genetic abnormality causes a disruption in insulin production. MODY usually develops before age 25. MODY can be treated with diet and medications as needed.