By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Tri-County Family Health Center of Greenville is offering free monthly educational workshops for diabetes patients, to help them sort through the mountain of information on the subject, and help them plan their care and management for the maximum possible benefit.
Diabetes is a condition in which the body produces too little or no insulin to allow glucose to enter the body’s cells and be used as energy, and Madison County has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the state.
Without sufficient insulin, glucose remains in the blood stream and glucose levels keep building up, causing damage to the delicate capillaries of the retina, which can result in loss of vision, and peripheral nerve damage, resulting in loss of feeling in the hands and feet. Excess glucose is stored in the liver and some of it is eventually filtered out and excreted by the kidneys, putting an extra strain on these organs.
Diabetes can also contribute to heart disease. Wounds, even small cuts and sores, are slow to heal, and infections take far longer than normal to fight off.
Proper care and management of diabetes is essential, to allow the patient to have as healthy a life as possible, with as few of these complications as possible, but sometimes that can get a little confusing.
First of all, there are two types of diabetes with slightly different treatment regimens. Type I diabetes, also known as “juvenile diabetes,” occurs when the body’s own immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The symptoms are dramatic and often sudden: frequent urination, excessive thirst and sudden weight loss. This type of diabetes is incurable, but can be successfully treated with daily insulin injections.
Type II, also known as “adult-onset” diabetes, occurs when the body’s cells become resistant to insulin, making it less effective; it is also known as “insulin-resistant” diabetes, and although the complications are the same, the symptoms are far more subtle. Patients may be sluggish, tired and irritable, but able to continue functioning, while a moderately high level of glucose circulating in their blood damages their internal organs. The treatment for this kind of diabetes includes diet, exercise and weight loss, and may or may not include drugs to increase insulin’s effectiveness and/or insulin injections. This type of diabetes can even be successfully cured in some patients, with the proper changes in eating and exercise habits.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that “adult onset” diabetes now shows up frequently in children, and juvenile diabetes can strike adults.
Then there is the plethora of information available regarding diabetes treatment and management that involves not only calculating the body’s glucose levels on a daily basis to determine insulin dosage, but also being able to calculate the glycemic index of various foods and how these effect glucose levels in the blood.
However, it’s not just weight, glycemic indices and glucose levels; there are blood pressure and cholesterol levels (HDL “good” and LDL “bad”) as well, all of which go into the successful management and treatment of either diabetic type.
Whether patients are new to realm of diabetes management, or want to learn more about how to better manage their ongoing care, Tri-County Family Health Center’s diabetes education workshops are there to give them the information they need and provide an opportunity to ask questions of health care professionals.
The workshops are held once a month at Tri-County Health, 193 NW US 221, in Greenville, on the third Tuesday of every month. The next workshop is Tuesday, Oct. 18, from 1 to 3 p.m.
For more information on the diabetic education workshops held each month, contact the Tri-County Family Health Center at (850) 948-2840.