Ask our Expert: Diabetes Prevention and Management
Gayotri Goswami, MD, an endocrinologist at NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx, discusses the causes, risks, and ways to deal with diabetes.
What is diabetes?
Dr. Goswami: Diabetes is a disease in which there is too much sugar in the blood. Blood sugar – or glucose – is controlled by insulin, a hormone that the body makes. After you eat, food is broken down into glucose and insulin allows it to get absorbed into the bloodstream, cells, and organs of the body. Glucose acts as fuel for the body. If you have diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin or it does not effectively use the insulin it makes.
There are 2 types of diabetes:
- Type 1: The body does not produce insulin. This form of diabetes affects children and young adults.
- Type 2: The body does not use insulin properly and cannot make enough of it to control blood sugar. Most people diagnosed with diabetes have this form of the disease.
Q: What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Dr. Goswami: Some of the symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst, extreme hunger, extreme fatigue, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, tingling, pain, or numbness in hands and/or feet, blurred vision, and sores, cuts, or bruises that are slow to heal.
Q: Can you offer advice on how to prevent getting diabetes?
Dr. Goswami: There are several things you can do to lessen your chances of getting diabetes. A change in diet and lifestyle can improve your health. Some suggestions include:
- Manage your weight and eat nutritious foods.
- Watch what you eat. Cut back on foods high in sugar, fat, cholesterol, and salt.
- Drink water and seltzer, instead of soda and fruit juices.
- Drink less alcohol as it can interfere with blood sugar levels and has a lot of calories.
- Do not smoke as smokers are more likely to develop diabetes than non-smokers.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
- Get an annual check-up.
Q: What are some tips you can offer to someone with diabetes on how best to manage their condition?
Dr. Goswami: Along with following the tips on how to prevent diabetes, the first thing you should do is learn more about this disease and how it affects you. Here are the basics on how to manage your diabetes:
- Talk to your doctor about your care. A doctor will give you a physical examination, prescribe medicine, and advise you on the best practices to manage your health.
- Take medications as prescribed by your doctor.
- Monitor your blood sugar by using a blood glucose meter or “glucometer” as directed by your doctor.
- Keep blood pressure and cholesterol under control with diet and exercise.
- Get your eyes, feet, and teeth examined by a doctor as diabetes can affect those parts of the body. Wear eyeglasses, sunglasses, or contacts if necessary. Keep your feet clean and wear comfortable shoes. Brush and floss your teeth daily.
Get help for diabetes at one of our NYC Health + Hospitals facilities.