Your Primary Care Provider Can Help You Manage Diabetes

Anyone can get diabetes, and it’s becoming more common for children to develop Type 2 diabetes in South Texas. Going to regular check-ups with your primary care provider can help you catch prediabetes and diagnose Type 2 diabetes. 

Dr. Jesus Jimenez is a primary care provider at University Health. He discusses ways your health care provider can help you or your children manage diabetes

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where you have too much sugar in your blood. There are two types of diabetes: 1 and 2. 

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which your body attacks the cells that make insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Its function is to allow blood sugar into our cells to be used for energy. Without insulin, the sugar doesn’t go into the cells and it stays in the blood – we can’t use that sugar for energy. 

Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which your cells develop a resistance to this insulin and require more and more insulin to do the same job. The pancreas tries to keep up by producing more insulin, but over time, it can’t meet the demand. “This results in constantly elevated blood sugar levels which can cause inflammation in the vessels and, over time, cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Jimenez said.

Is Diabetes Genetic?

“There's somewhat of a genetic component to diabetes,” Dr. Jimenez said. “But overall, the same family will have similar daily habits as far as diet and exercise.” 

According to a HealthFocus SA blog published in 2019, “If you have one parent who has Type 2 diabetes, your risk of becoming diabetic in your lifetime goes up by 30-40%. If both of your parents have Type 2 diabetes, your risk is higher than 50% of becoming diabetic at some point in your life.”

If you think you’re at a higher risk of developing diabetes, talk with your primary care provider about screening for diabetes.

What Are the Risk Factors for Diabetes? 

Risk factors for Type 1 diabetes include:

  • Family history
  • Age
  • Being Caucasian

Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include: 

  • Being prediabetic
  • Elevated blood sugar levels
  • Being overweight
  • Being over the age of 45
  • Being physically inactive
  • Family history of Type 2 diabetes
  • If you are a woman, having gestational diabetes

Could I Have Diabetes and Not Know?

Yes, you can have diabetes and not know it. 

“Type 2 diabetics can present without symptoms for several years, and some people will not notice anything at all,” Dr. Jimenez said. “Unfortunately, this means that the disease will progress and cause irreversible damage to the body until we actually get enough symptoms that the patient comes in for their routine screening.”

It’s important to catch diabetes early so your primary care provider can help you learn how to manage it. The best way to do this is to visit your primary care provider for yearly check-ups.

How can I Prevent Diabetes? 

There isn’t any way to prevent Type 1 diabetes. Fortunately, there are ways you can prevent Type 2 diabetes. 

  • Lose excess weight if you’re overweight
  • Exercise for 150 minutes per week
  • Eat a balanced diet

Diabetes Care at University Health

Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to screen for diabetes.

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