Diabetes

What are the different pills for Type 2 diabetes?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have Type 2 diabetes and my doctor wants to prescribe medication. Fortunately, he says I don't need shots, just pills. What are the different pills for Type 2 diabetes?

DEAR READER: No one likes needles, but the needles used to give yourself insulin are very small, and the shots are very easy to administer. But for Type 2 diabetes, it is true that pills are often all that are needed. In Type 2 diabetes, like the less common Type 1, blood glucose (sugar) levels are too high.

What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

DEAR DOCTOR K: How does Type 1 diabetes differ from Type 2 diabetes?

DEAR READER: Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are different diseases, but they share many things in common. Both types of diabetes are marked by elevated levels of blood glucose, or sugar. Type 2 diabetes, though, is much more common than Type 1 diabetes.

Why do I need a HbA1c test every few months for my Type 2 diabetes?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have Type 2 diabetes, and I check my blood sugar levels every day. Why do I need to have my HbA1c levels tested every few months?

DEAR READER: Diabetes is marked by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood and urine. Without adequate treatment, diabetes can cause serious long-term complications. The key to preventing them is to control blood sugar -- to keep it close to the normal level.

I have to start taking insulin for my Type 2 diabetes — What do I need to know before I start?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have to start taking insulin for my Type 2 diabetes. It sounds complicated. What do I need to know before I start?

DEAR READER: The first thing you need to know is that it is simple to learn and do, and the discomfort is minimal. Tens of millions of people all over the world do it every day -- and probably most of them were afraid that it would be complicated and painful before they actually started taking insulin.

Does eating red meat increase the risk of diabetes?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My wife has read that eating red meat increases the risk of diabetes. Is this true?

DEAR READER: You've heard for a long time that limiting the amount of red meat -- especially processed foods with red meat, such as salami -- reduces your risk of heart disease. The evidence for that is very strong.

Does intensive diet and exercise decrease heart disease risk in diabetics?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I just heard on the radio that some study says that intensive diet and exercise don't decrease heart disease risk in diabetics. Is this true? If so, I've made a lot of hard changes in my life for nothing.

DEAR READER: I assume you're referring to results from the recently publicized Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) trial. The results of this study were reported in June of this year. Several of my patients have already asked me about it, and what I've told them is: Take these results with several grains of salt.

Can you explain how diabetes affects vision?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Could you explain how diabetes affects vision?

DEAR READER: The high blood sugar levels that occur in people with diabetes can have serious consequences throughout the body, including the eyes. Many of my patients with diabetes are most concerned that diabetes will rob them of the precious gift of sight.

I’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. What are the risks to my baby?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I was just diagnosed with gestational diabetes. What are the risks to my baby? And what do I need to do to keep her safe?

DEAR READER: Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that occurs during pregnancy. Normally, the hormone insulin moves sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream into cells that use it for fuel. In gestational diabetes, hormones produced during pregnancy make the body resistant to insulin's effect

I have “prediabetes” — what does this mean?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I recently had some blood tests done, and my doctor told me I have "prediabetes." What does this mean? Do I have diabetes or not?

DEAR READER: Diabetes doesn't usually appear all of a sudden. Many people have a long, slow, invisible lead-in to it called prediabetes. During this period, blood sugar levels are higher than normal. However, they're not high enough to cause symptoms or to be classified as diabetes. It's still possible at this stage to prevent the slide into full-blown diabetes.