November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and an opportune time to learn more about the disease and some of the medical services offered to patients at the Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic.
What is Diabetes?
When you eat food, your body breaks the food down into glucose (sugar). Your blood carries the glucose to the cells of your body which alert the pancreas to make and release the hormone insulin. Your body uses insulin to move the sugar out of the bloodstream and into the cells for energy. When a person has diabetes, the body is unable to use this blood glucose for energy, and high blood glucose (hyperglycemia) results.
What’s the difference between types 1 and 2?
Diabetes can be broken down into several types including diabetes mellitus (DM) Type 1, DM Type 2, gestational diabetes, and pre-diabetes.
Diabetes type 1 – The pancreas no longer makes insulin, and therefore blood glucose cannot enter the cells to be used for energy.
Diabetes type 2 – Either the pancreas does not make enough insulin, or the body is unable to use insulin correctly.
Gestational diabetes – This type of diabetes only develops during pregnancy and usually disappears upon delivery, but it increases the risks the mother will develop diabetes later. Gestational diabetes is managed with meal planning, activity and, in some cases, insulin.
Pre-diabetes – A condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but are not high enough to reach a diagnosis of diabetes. Patients with pre-diabetes are at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Other names for pre-diabetes are impaired glucose tolerance and impaired fasting glucose.
Diabetes is complex and can affect multiple body systems and requires a multidisciplinary team approach to ensure patients are taken care of and know how to manage their disease to avoid complications such as heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease, loss of vision, loss of limbs and infections.
Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic providers will look at a patient’s risk factors, then order lab testing to measure blood glucose levels. Medical providers and the clinical pharmacist oversee any prescribed medications to ensure patients get the right combination to achieve optimal blood glucose levels.
Referrals may be placed to other WAHC departments such as the Army Wellness Center, Nutrition or Optometry based on the patient’s needs.
The Army Wellness Center can provide patients with metabolic testing and recommendations on how to improve metabolism and lose weight.
The Optometry Clinic is available to provide comprehensive retinal exams. Diabetes mellitus is the number one cause of blindness in Americans, and early detection of diabetic retinopathy is crucial to preserving, while preventing permanent loss of sight.