June Health Corner Newsletter 2021
By Dr. Shay Phillips
Diabetes is a chronic disease that hinders the body’s ability to convert sugar to energy. When we eat food, the body breaks the food down into sugar and releases it into the bloodstream. When our blood sugar increases, a signal is sent to the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin enables the sugar to be released into the body’s cells to create energy. When a person has diabetes, the body is either unable to make insulin or unable to use the insulin that is made adequately. This causes too much sugar to stay in the bloodstream and can lead to kidney disease, heart disease, and/or blindness. Unfortunately, many people in the United States have diabetes, and many of these people are people of color.
There are many FDA approved medications for diabetes. A common medication that many diabetics take first is an oral medication called metformin (generic name is Glucophage). Metformin should be taken with meals. Some common side effects of metformin are stomach upset (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas) and headache.
Many patients with diabetes take insulin as well. They usually take short acting insulin such as insulin lispro (brand name Humalog). Insulin lispro is taken 15 minutes before or immediately after meals. It is injected subcutaneously, which means under the skin. This manages the effect of food on blood sugar. A common subcutaneous injection site is the stomach. In addition, to short acting insulin, patients often take long-acting insulin such as insulin glargine (brand name Lantus). Insulin glargine is also injected subcutaneously, but is taken at bedtime. It helps manage blood sugar overnight, so blood sugar is not high when the patient wakes up in the morning. Common side effects of insulin are low blood sugar, injection site reaction and weight gain.
Diabetes can be prevented by eating foods that are low in sugar and starch and exercising regularly. Diabetes can be managed in the same way that it can be prevented, and also by taking antidiabetic medications as directed by your doctor. For more information about diabetes, go to www.cdc.gov/diabetes.