Diabetes mellitus is a disease that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) is too high. Glucose is your body's main source of energy, which you get from the food you eat. After eating or drinking something, your body releases a hormone called insulin, which helps make the glucose available to your cells for energy.
This disease is affecting a growing number of people and is estimated that worldwide about 8.8% of the population or approximately 415 million of the adult population have diabetes.
Our Comprehensive Diabetes Center offers leading expertise from a multidisciplinary team. We develop a customized treatment plan that fits into your lifestyle, using the latest advancements in diabetes treatment — including promising new treatments through clinical trials. You can depend on expert care and a full range of resources to make living with diabetes a little easier.
As South Florida’s only university-based health care system, our research-driven medical care is supplemented by today’s health care experts who teach tomorrow’s talented medical minds – and are focused on providing care that is tailored to best serve patients.
Conditions and Treatments
Diabetes mellitus is a disease that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) is too high. Glucose is your body's main source of energy, which you get from the food you eat. After eating or drinking something, your body releases a hormone called insulin, which helps make the glucose available to your cells for energy and keep your blood sugar in normal range.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, making up approximately 95 percent of adult cases. It occurs when your body does not make or use insulin well. Although individuals can develop this type of diabetes at any age, it most often occurs in middle-aged and older people. Type 1 diabetes mostly occurs at a young age but it may occur at any age and happens when the immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin.
- Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake) that destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin, called beta cells. This process can go on for months or years before any symptoms appear. Some people have certain genes (traits passed on from parent to child) that make them more likely to develop type 1 diabetes. Being exposed to a trigger in the environment, such as a virus, is also thought to play a part in developing type 1 diabetes.
- Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include a family history of diabetes, being overweight, lack of physical activity, and health problems such as high blood pressure. Diets high in calories from processed foods, animal fats, and refined sugars can contribute to obesity and pre-diabetes. If caught early enough, pre-diabetes can be course-corrected before it advances into diabetes.
UHealth offers diabetes testing including the A1C test and blood glucose testing for diabetes, and additional tests such as blood pressure and cholesterol testing required for people with diabetes. The A1C test provides information about a person’s average levels of blood glucose, also called blood sugar, over a three month-period.
- Type 1 diabetes is treated by monitoring your blood glucose levels and administering insulin on a regular basis. It can be given through daily injections with an insulin pen or syringe, or through an insulin pump. Exercise and nutrition are also important.
- Type 2 diabetes is treated with a combination of lifestyle changes (helping you manage your blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking cessation), and/or with prescribed medications, insulin management, exercise, nutrition and additional emotional support programs.
If left untreated or undertreated, diabetes can cause damage to nearly every organ in your body. This can include your heart and blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves. People with diabetes are at least twice as likely to have heart problems and strokes as people who don’t have the condition. Blood vessel damage or nerve damage may also cause foot problems that, in rare cases, can lead to amputations. Diabetes can lead to eye problems, some of which can cause blindness if not treated. Diabetes is also the commonest cause of kidney failure.
- Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include excessive thirst, frequent urination, blurry vision, extreme fatigue, extreme hunger and/or weight loss.
- Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are often similar to the symptoms of type 1 diabetes, but develop more slowly. Additional type 2 diabetes symptoms may include numbness or tingling in your feet or hands, slow-healing or non-healing sores. You also may have no symptoms.
There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (occurs during a woman’s pregnancy). Less common forms of diabetes include monogenic diabetes and cystic fibrosis-related diabetes.
- What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes (previously called insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes) is usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults, but it can develop at any age. Type 1 diabetes happens when the immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose you receive from food enter your cells to produce energy. Affected individuals must take insulin every day to stay healthy.
- What is type 2 diabetes?
Although individuals can develop this type of diabetes at any age, type 2 diabetes most often occurs in middle-aged and older people. It occurs when your body does not make or use insulin well. Risk factors include a family history of diabetes, being overweight, lack of physical activity, and health problems such as high blood pressure.
- What is gestational diabetes and its risk factors?
Some women develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. It is usually related to the fact that your body is less able to use insulin due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy. It’s treated with special meal plans and exercise, but it may require blood glucose testing and insulin injections. In most instances, it goes away once the baby is born. However, women who have gestational diabetes are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
There are a few rare types of diabetes that can be inherited in a simple pattern. However, most commonly, a genetic predisposition to the disease plus environmental and lifestyle triggers are part of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes onset. Type 2 diabetes has a stronger link to family history and lineage than type 1.
Individuals with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin in order to process glucose in their bodies and are at risk of serious complications including death without insulin. Individuals with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes may require insulin to manage their diabetes, but also could be treated with other options such as medication, lifestyle changes, nutrition and exercise, based on a specific case.
High blood glucose from diabetes can cause damage over time to your blood vessels, and nerves that control your blood vessels and heart. Individuals who have diabetes can develop heart disease at younger ages than those without diabetes.
High blood glucose (blood sugar) can damage the kidney’s blood vessels. Your kidneys help control blood pressure and hormones you need to stay healthy. Early treatment of diabetes and maintaining a healthy lifestyle may help to prevent or slow kidney damage.
Diabetes can cause retinopathy, which is a common cause of vision loss. This is because high blood sugar (glucose) caused by diabetes can damage the blood vessels in your eyes. It also adds risk for developing eye conditions such as cataracts and open-angle glaucoma.
There are many drugs to help manage diabetes. They are grouped into 12 different “types” of drugs. Your treatment plan will be decided by your doctor based on your specific case and needs.
Diabetes type 1 has no cure. However, the disease can be managed by taking insulin shots (or wearing an insulin pump) to manage your blood sugar levels and to ensure your body gets the energy it needs. Early cases of type 2 diabetes in obese people can be reversed by aggressive weight loss. Making healthy food choices, being physically active, controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol levels can help prevent complications.
Why Choose UHealth?
Comprehensive diabetes care. At the Comprehensive Diabetes Center, you have access to a variety of specialists. That means you can see several providers in a single, convenient visit. And, it allows your providers to work together as a well-integrated team. Your patient navigator will assist you in coordinating care and scheduling visits based on your needs.
A multidisciplinary team approach. We treat patients who have Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, secondary and genetic forms of diabetes, highly complicated diabetes, and diabetes during pregnancy. We take a team approach to help you manage diabetes and improve your health. Our endocrinologists work closely with ophthalmologists, podiatrists, kidney specialists, dietitians, nutrition educators, and other specialists to provide complete care. We help reduce your risk of developing diabetes-related health problems such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye problems, dental disease, nerve damage, and foot problems.
Leading-edge care and education backed by groundbreaking diabetes research. As an academic medical center, we leverage the latest research completed by the nationally-recognized Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine — the largest research center that’s known internationally for its research findings and is dedicated to finding a cure for diabetes. The diabetes and endocrinology clinics located in the institute offer comprehensive treatment, diabetes education classes, and clinical research opportunities for people living with diabetes.
Personalized attention to help you take control of your health. Your health needs, lifestyle, and what’s important to you are unique, and your care plan will reflect that. We provide solutions that empower you to take control of your health and well-being. That’s why our comprehensive care includes more than expert medical care. Your team also helps you develop real-world solutions that help you stay healthy.
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