Morning Rounds: Dangers of diabetes

Posted at 12:16 PM, Mar 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-27 17:37:14-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Today is National Diabetes Association Alert Day, and News 3 is taking action to warn you of the signs, symptoms and outcomes related to the disease.

"The early symptoms of untreated diabetes are related to elevated blood sugar levels, and loss of glucose in the urine," said Dr. Ryan Light on News 3 This Morning.  "High amounts of glucose in the urine cause increased urine frequency and lead to dehydration. This dehydration causes increased thirst and water consumption.

"Diabetes can also lead to weight loss and an increase in appetite," Dr. Light continued.  "Without insulin the body is unable to convert the blood sugars to energy resulting in the body falsely feeling starved.  This leads to fatigue, nausea,  and vomiting.  Some diabetics complain of change in vision and increased incident of infection."

Dr. Light listed the following as symptoms of diabetes:

  • Urine frequency
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

"There are many risk factors that contribute to the development of diabetes and pre-diabetes," he said.  "You should get tested if you have any of the signs or symptoms of diabetes, or have risk factors for the development of diabetes."

Dr. Light said risk factors for the disease are:

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated levels of triglycerides and low levels of "good" cholesterol (HDL)
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history
  • Aging

Dr. Light said diabetes puts you at greater risk for heart disease and stroke.

"Diabetes causes arteriole diseases," he explained.  "They are generally classified into small vessel disease, such as those involving the eyes, kidneys, and nerves, and large vessel disease involving the heart and blood vessels. Diabetes accelerates hardening of the arteries, leading to coronary artery disease (heart attack),  strokes, and peripheral arterial disease.  Peripheral arterial disease leads to pain while walking and in most severe cases can lead to amputation."

"In Type I diabetes the body stops producing insulin, which is the chemical that helps regulate blood sugar," he said.  "Without insulin, your body can no longer remove the sugar from your blood stream causing an increase in blood sugar level, which can ultimately contribute to significant medical problems."

"In Type II diabetes the body creates resistance to insulin," he explained.  "This leads to the body needing to produce more insulin.  Eventually the body cannot keep up with the increased insulin production and Type II diabetes occurs."

Dr. Light said diabetes prevention begins with a healthy diet and increasing physical activity.

"It's never too late to change your lifestyle in order to increase health and longevity," he said.

The latest diabetes prevention tips from the American Diabetes Association are:

  • Increased physical activity
  • Eating more whole grains
  • Getting plenty of fiber in your diet
  • Skip fad diets and make healthier choices
  • Lose extra weight