Frequently Asked Questions

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What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that impairs the body’s ability to use food properly. Normally, your small intestine takes out the sugar, or glucose, and puts it into your blood. The glucose is burned as fuel to give your cells energy to do their jobs. To get into the cells, the glucose needs insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin acts like a key to open the cells and let glucose in. In people with diabetes, the pancreas does not make enough insulin. The cells that make insulin have been destroyed.
Are There Different Types of Diabetes?
There are two different types of diabetes. They are categorized as Type 1 and Type 2.

Type I Diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes. Although it can occur at any age, it usually develops before the age of 30. It often runs in families. About 12,000 children in the United States get diabetes every year. People with Type I diabetes usually don’t produce insulin because cells have been destroyed. Treatment of Type I diabetes requires a strict daily regimen that includes a carefully monitored diet, insulin injections, and monitoring of blood glucose.

Type II Diabetes is also known as non insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes. It typically develops after the age of 40, but can appear earlier. People with Type II diabetes produce some insulin, but the body cannot use it effectively. Treatment includes weight loss (many Type II’s are overweight), proper diet, reduced sugar intake, and exercise. More severe cases may be treated with oral medication or insulin injections.

What are Some Symptoms of Diabetes?
Once over 90% of the pancreas cells are destroyed, the body is no longer able to regulate blood sugar levels and the patient develops some or all of the classic symptoms of diabetes:

  • excessive thirst
  • excessive urination
  • excessive hunger
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • blurred vision
  • high blood sugar level
  • sugar and ketones in the urine
  • vaginal yeast infections in girls (even infants and toddlers)

While the symptoms appear abruptly, the development of the disease actually occurs over a much longer period of time.

Are There Famous People with Diabetes?
Alot of famous people have diabetes. They include political leaders, sports figures, actors/actresses and business leaders. Most of these have Type II diabetes.

Mikal Gorbechev – Soviet Premier
Anwar Sadat — Egyptian Leader
Ernest Hemingway – Novelist
Mario Puzo — Novelist, “The Godfather”
H.G. Wells — Writer, Novelist
Arthur Ashe – Tennis
Ty Cobb – Baseball
James “Buster” Douglas — Boxing
Smokin’ Joe” Frasier – Boxing
Jackie Robinson – Baseball
Sugar Ray Robinson – Boxing
Art Shell – Football
Johnny Cash — Country Singer
David Crosby – Singer
Momma Cass Elliot — 1960’s Rock Singer
Ella Fitzgerald — Jazz Legend Singer
Patti LaBelle — Singer, Actress
Jerry Garcia — The Grateful Dead
Andrew Lloyd Webber – Composer
Elvis Presley — “The King”, Rock Legend
Jack Benny – Entertainer
Jackie Gleason — Actor
George Lucas — Director, Producer,
Mary Tyler Moore – Actress
Minnie Pearl — Entertainer, Actress
Elizabeth Taylor — Actress, “Cleopatra”
Thomas Edison – Inventor
Howard Hughes – Industrialist
Ray Kroc — Founder of McDonald’s
What is Hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia occurs when there is too little sugar in the blood (when the blood glucose level is under 70). It can be caused by any of the following…

  • too little food
  • too much insulin
  • too much exercise without enough food to balance with it
  • eating food or doing insulin injections at unusual times (i.e. being late or early)

Hypoglycemia, unlike Hyperglycemia, has a sudden onset. Some signs of hypoglycemia include…

  • pale, moist, or sweaty skin
  • irritable behavior
  • deep hunger
  • dizziness or loss of coordination
  • blurred vision
  • weakness or fatigue
  • extreme nervousness
  • confusion
  • slurred speech
  • shaking
  • inability to concentrate
  • rapid pulse
  • shallow breathing

If you notice any of the symptoms listed above you should immediately check your blood glucose. If it is under 70 (or whatever it is your doctor has chosen for you to be considered low) you should immediately eat or drink one of the following…

  • 2-3 glucose tablets
  • 1 tube of glucose gel
  • 4 oz. of REGULAR cola
  • 1 tbsp. of honey
  • 8 oz. of skim milk
  • 6 hard candies
  • 4 oz. of orange juice

10-15 minutes after treating your hypoglycemia, you should do another blood glucose test. If your blood glucose level has still not risen, you should take another dose of treatment from the list above. If your blood glucose level has risen, it is a good idea to have an additional snack of something substantial, such as a sandwich.

What is Hyperglycemia?
Hyperglycemia is the technical term for high blood sugar, which happens when the body has too little, or not enough, insulin or when the body cannot use insulin properly. A number of things can cause hyperglycemia. For example,

  • not enough insulin
  • eating more than planned
  • exercised less than planned
  • stress of an illness, such as a cold or flu
  • other stresses, such as family conflicts or school or work problems

Symptoms of hyperglycemia:

  • high blood sugar
  • high levels of sugar in the urine
  • frequent urination
  • increased thirst
What are Ketones?
When too little insulin is present, your body cannot use glucose for energy. It is then forced to break down fat for energy. Your body produces ketones (acids) and releases them into the blood and urine. When people with Type I diabetes do not take enough insulin, especially in times of stress or illness, ketones are produced. Large amounts of ketones can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, a medical emergency. Ketones warn that diabetes may be out of control.

If you have a blood glucose level over 240 mg/dL, you should test your urine using a ketone test kit. These test strips work by putting a sample of fresh urine on them, wait for the product’s specified time and match the color on the chart on the bottle. It is a good idea to record all ketone tests along with your regular blood glucose counts, and insulin dosages. If you have large amounts of ketones in your urine, you should then contact your Doctor or diabetes educator immediately for further instruction. If you have a “trace” or “small” amount of ketones in your urine you should, drink a glass of water every hour and test your blood glucose every three hours. If blood glucose and ketone levels are not going down after 2-3 tests, call your doctor.


How is Diabetes Treated?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that can be managed, but not cured. The goal of treatment is to lower blood glucose levels and improve the body’s use of insulin. The recommended ways to do this include:

  • Eating a healthy diet. Since your body changes food into glucose, what you eat is very important when trying to control glucose levels. In the past, people with diabetes were told to stay away from sweets, but diet recommendations have changed. Experts now believe the best dietary recommendations for diabetics are the same as they are for everyone: minimize fat intake, consume moderate amounts of protein, and plenty of complex carbohydrates. Consistency and moderation are also very important dietary factors for diabetics. It’s best to eat about the same number of calories each day, keep track of how much carbohydrate is eaten, have meals and snacks at the same time each day, and never skip meals.
  • Exercise. Being active plays an important role in the treatment of diabetes because it helps cells take in glucose and lowers glucose levels in your blood. Ideally, it’s best to exercise three or four times a week for at least 20 minutes. People who are not used to exercising, should start slowly. Even a five-minute walk is a step in the right direction.
  • Glucose Testing. Home glucose tests can help keep track of how well you are controlling glucose levels. To test blood, a special device called a glucose meter is available in most drug stores. To perform the test, you prick your finger and put a drop of blood on a special test strip that the meter analyzes and then displays how much glucose it contains. Your doctor will tell you how often to test your blood. You should keep a diary of the results.