Diabetes is a disease that should matter to every resident of the Rose City because every one of us is susceptible to it. About one in 10 Portlanders suffers from diabetes, and as many as one in four of those residents is undiagnosed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes has the potential to lead to multiple health problems, including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and vision impairment, and can lead to amputation and even death. In fact, the disease claims the life of one American every three minutes.
In many cases, diabetes can be prevented or managed with proper medical support, which is why the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and
Kidney Disease marks National Diabetes Month every November. As part of this monthly observance and throughout the year, the doctors and nurses at The Portland Clinic continue to work on education programs to keep Portlanders informed on the symptoms and help them manage their illness and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes affects the way the body produces insulin and manages energy distribution to your body to fuel daily activity. When you consume food, your body turns nutrients into sugars, or glucose, which all cells use for energy. Insulin is secreted from your pancreas to allow the body to use those sugars as fuel, regulating the amount of sugar your body consumes at any given moment.
Many medical professionals describe insulin as the “key” that unlocks the cells to allow sugar to be absorbed. If there is excess sugar in the body, insulin will store the sugar in the liver and release it when your body is running at a lower blood-sugar level. Diabetes occurs when either the pancreas is not producing enough insulin or the cells stop properly responding to the insulin that is produced.
There are three types of diabetes — type 1, type 2 and gestational — each with their own potential dangers.
- Can affect patients in every decade of life, not simply young children
- The patient’s body is unable to produce insulin
- Danger of hyperglycemia
- Treated with insulin injections, frequent blood sugar monitoring, healthy eating and exercise
- Anyone can develop type 2 diabetes, at any age
- Body becomes resistant to its insulin or produces less insulin than required
- Many affected have poor diets and unhealthy lifestyles
- Treated with healthy eating, regular exercise, blood sugar monitoring and possible medication
- A pregnancy-induced form of diabetes that may affect 10 percent of pregnancies
- Regularly affects women without diabetes
- Does not mean the woman will have diabetes after birth
- Does not cause an automatic diagnosis of diabetes for a newborn, but may be the cause in a future diagnosis
- If not treated, it may cause harm to a baby due to excess fat buildup on the child before birth
Symptoms of diabetes include:
- Frequent urination
- Constant feeling of thirst or hunger
- Changes in vision
- Longer recovery time for small injuries such as cuts or bruises
- Unexplained weight loss (type 1)
- Tingling, pain or numbness in appendages (type 2)
Lowering diabetes risk
There are multiple ways Portlanders can help minimize their risk of developing diabetes, most of which are focused on healthy lifestyle choices. Staying active is one of the best ways to fight diabetes. Not only will you lose weight with daily physical activity, but you will also lower your blood sugar and boost sensitivity to insulin. Additionally, changing your diet, without resorting to fad dieting, will give you an advantage. Stick to high-fiber foods, whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
This year the National Diabetes Education Program’s theme for the month is “It’s not easy, but it’s worth it,” which highlights the importance of managing the illness to prevent lasting damage to the body. Whether you’re suffering from diabetes, at high risk for developing the disease or are simply looking to engage in a healthier lifestyle, doctors and nurses at The Portland Clinic are available to consult, diagnose and treat our neighbors. We encourage any patients with questions or concerns regarding nutrition, a new fitness routine or diabetes treatment to contact The Portland Clinic. You can make an appointment by calling 503-223-3113 or visiting ThePortlandClinic.com.