Janelle Yee, MD, endocrinologist at Bergen Medical Associates , discusses the symptoms of, treatment for and prevention of diabetes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 37 million Americans — roughly 1 in 10 — have diabetes, a chronic disease that results in too much sugar in the blood. Equally alarming is the fact that an estimated 20% of people with diabetes aren’t aware that they have the condition, which can lead to serious health consequences such as stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, vision problems, neuropathy and more if it’s poorly managed or left untreated.
Following, Janelle Yee, MD, endocrinologist at Bergen Medical Associates, which has six offices throughout Bergen County, shares important information about the symptoms of, treatment for and prevention of diabetes.
- Types of Diabetes — “Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the pancreas doesn’t make insulin, a hormone that enables the body to use glucose for energy,” Dr. Yee said. “The more common ‘Type 2’ form of diabetes involves insulin resistance and/or decreased production of insulin. There are also genetic forms of diabetes that run in families as well as gestational diabetes seen in pregnant women.”
- Symptoms of Diabetes — While symptoms vary from person to person and some people have no symptoms at all, “Common symptoms include increased urination throughout the day and night and constant thirst,” Dr. Yee said. “Others may experience constant hunger, may crave sweets, and may lose weight without trying because they’re not absorbing/metabolizing nutrients or sugar. Still other symptoms can include blurry vision, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, fatigue, slow ability to heal from cuts or wounds, and, for women, recurrent yeast infections.”
- Blood Sugar Goals — For those without diabetes, “Fasting blood sugar levels (after not eating for eight hours) should be less than 100 and before a meal, blood sugar should be less than 130,” Dr. Yee said. “Blood sugar levels two hours post-meal should be under 140 and blood sugar at bedtime should range from 100-140. For those with diabetes, fasting blood sugar should range from 70-130, two hours post-meal levels should be under 180, and blood sugar levels should be less than 140 before lunch and dinner.”
- Correct Times to Check Blood Sugar — “There are seven times during the day when it’s meaningful for people with diabetes to check their blood sugar levels to assess whether they’re achieving their goals,” Dr. Yee said. “These include the morning upon wakeup (fasting blood sugar); before lunch, dinner and bedtime; and then two hours after each meal. You don’t have to do all of these, but if you’re going to check your blood sugar levels, don’t do it randomly; do it at one or more of these milestone markers.”
- Planning Meals — Dr. Yee confirmed that diet and portion control are critical for diabetics. “People with diabetes think that they can’t have any carbs (like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc.), but they absolutely can as long as they’re consumed in moderation,” she said, noting that some vegetables are deceptively high in carbs, such as carrots and corn. “People with diabetes should avoid or reduce their consumption of refined or simple carbs such as white bread, white rice and pasta as well as sugary sodas and juices and other items high in refined sugars. Go for complex carbs like brown rice, wheat bread and brown pasta, and work closely with a nutritionist,” she recommended.
- Medication for Diabetes — “Traditional approaches to controlling blood sugar include the use of insulin and Metformin,” but we also have a host of non-insulin medications in our arsenal now and the medical community can help control sugar from a number of different angles in both pill and injectable form,” she said. According to Dr. Yee, the optimal time to take diabetes medication such as insulin is 15 minutes before a meal, because it takes that amount of time to activate and will best synchronize the consumption of food with the administration of insulin.
- Diabetes Prevention — While Dr. Yee said that Type 1 and genetic forms of diabetes are harder to prevent, Type 2 is preventable to a certain extent. “Key preventative measures include adhering to a healthy balanced diet featuring fruits, vegetables, proteins, and fats and maintaining a healthy weight,” she said, adding that even a 5% to 10% weight loss can improve glycemic control. “Also, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week (such as five 30-minute sessions) reduces insulin resistance, decreases abdominal fat and helps control blood sugars.”
“Overall, diabetes is a chronic illness which can be prevented with a healthy diet, exercise and normal body weight,” Dr. Yee concluded. “If diabetes develops, however, it can be managed and patients can do very well, especially if they work with a team of experts such as a nutritionist, diabetes educator, eye doctor, podiatrist, etc. The bottom line is that it’s imperative to get diabetes under control to reduce the risk of serious health complications down the line.”
For More Information
With offices in Emerson, Paramus (two), Ridgewood, Northvale and Montvale, Bergen Medical Associates offers primary care and 12 areas of specialized care. Patients enjoy the “one-stop shopping” approach where so many medical services are provided under one umbrella. The multi-specialty group fosters an environment of collaboration among the physicians, which results in a seamless continuum of care for patients. For more information, visit bergenmed.com or call 201-967-8221.