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Diabetes Care

Take Control of Your Health and Live Well with Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic health condition causing high blood sugar levels. It occurs when the body doesn’t produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that helps the body use food for energy. Without treatment, diabetes can lead to serious health problems.

The Diabetes Education Program at Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center can help you live well with diabetes. Our program will help you learn skills and attitudes for controlling the condition. Our Diabetes Education Program holds the American Diabetes Association Education Recognition Certificate for quality diabetes self-management programs. Recognition assures that our education program meets the National Standards for Diabetes Self-management Education programs.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic (ongoing) health condition where blood sugar levels are high. To understand what diabetes is, it helps to understand more about what happens during digestion. When you eat, some of your food is broken down into sugar (glucose). This sugar travels in your blood to all your body’s cells. Insulin helps sugar move from your blood into your cells. Insulin is a hormone that is made by the beta cells in the pancreas. Your cells need sugar for energy. Sugar from food makes your blood sugar levels go up. Insulin lowers your blood sugar level by helping sugar move from your blood into your cells.

Types of Diabetes

When you have diabetes, your pancreas makes little or no insulin or your body prevents the insulin you do make from working right, depending on the type of diabetes that you have. There are 3 common types: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes, but Type 2 is the most common.

Diabetes types are characterized by the following:

  • Type 1 diabetes: The body makes little or no insulin, so the person with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily. This type of diabetes is usually first diagnosed in childhood. Symptoms include frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue, and irritability.

  • Type 2 diabetes: People with Type 2 insulin produce some insulin, but not enough, and the body prevents the insulin from working correctly. Most people with Type 2 diabetes are adults who are overweight. Symptoms are similar to Type 1 symptoms, but also include frequent infections, blurred vision, injuries that are slow to heal, and a sensation of tingling or numbness.

  • Gestational diabetes: About 3 to 8% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, but blood sugars usually return to normal once the baby is born. However, gestational diabetes can increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

What Is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition where your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as having type 2 diabetes. Without medical intervention, prediabetes can progress to type 2 diabetes in approximately 10 years or less. Prediabetes can cause the same damages to the organs, such as your heart, kidneys, nerves, and eyes, like type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, there is good news: The progression of prediabetes to type 2 diabetes is not inevitable. Being diagnosed with prediabetes offers you an opportunity to improve your overall health and prevent its progression to type 2 diabetes. Often prediabetes has no signs or symptoms, but a darkened area of skin called acanthosis nigricans may be present and it is one of the few signs of prediabetes. The common areas that may be affected include the neck, armpits, elbows, knees, and knuckles.

How Is Diabetes Diagnosed?

The following tests can pinpoint a diabetes diagnosis:

  • Fasting glucose test (FGT) measures blood sugar when you haven’t eaten anything for at least 8 hours.
  • Glucose tolerance test (GTT) measures blood sugar after you haven’t eaten anything for at least 8 hours and 2 hours after you drink a sugary drink provided by a doctor or laboratory professional
  • The A1C test result reflects your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. Specifically, the A1C test measures what percentage of your hemoglobin — a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen — is coated with sugar (glycated). The higher your A1C level, the poorer your blood sugar control. And if you have previously diagnosed diabetes, the higher the A1C level, the higher your risk of diabetes complications.

Our Diabetes Education Classes

Diabetes education classes are led by our education team, which includes a registered dietitian, a physical therapist, and a pharmacist. These classes include:

  • Annual Diabetes Review: An annual diabetes review is available to people who have completed the Diabetes Education Program. It includes individualized education and an update on self-management skills.
  • Continuous Glucose Monitoring Test: A tiny glucose sensor is placed under your skin for several days. The sensor continuously measures the glucose in your tissue fluids. At the end of the test, the sensor is removed. Graphs of your glucose levels during the test can help you and your health care team adjust your diabetes treatment.
  • Medical Nutrition Therapy: This type of therapy involves working with a registered dietitian. The purpose of medical nutrition therapy is to help people improve diabetes control with self-management skills in nutrition, physical activity, and glucose monitoring. It also may prevent or slow the development of diabetes complications. Educational needs are determined by clients and their physicians. Insurance coverage varies.
  • Diabetes Self-Management Classes: Our classes that help people minimize the impact their disease has on their life. Our specially trained nurses and dietitians who educators will give you specific information, teach self-care skills, and provide ongoing help.

Should I Take Diabetes Education Classes?

Diabetes education classes are for people who:

  • Recently were diagnosed with diabetes
  • Want to learn how to manage diabetes
  • Are making a change in their diabetes treatment
  • Have concerns or questions about diabetes

If group classes don’t fit your needs, individual sessions can be arranged. A relative or friend may come with you at no charge.

Class topics include:

  • Being active
  • Coping with diabetes
  • Eating healthy
  • Monitoring your blood sugar
  • Reducing health risks
  • Solving diabetes problems
  • Using medicines
  • Insulin pumps and glucose sensors

Enroll in a Class

You can enroll in a class with a physician’s referral. Talk to your physician or health care provider about the benefits of diabetes education. For more information, please call 319-768-4165.