Share, , Google Plus, Pinterest,


Posted in:

Dealing with diabetes

A few months ago, I noticed I was urinating more than usual and starting to lose weight. Although otherwise healthy, trim and a regular exerciser, I’d come down with diabetes. It’s a scary diagnosis, as diabetes is the number-one cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations and adult blindness. Although I didn’t have other signs, for many people, other common symptoms are excessive thirst, belly pain, blurred vision and persistent hunger.

Diabetes affects 37 million Americans. Of these, one in five don’t know they have it. In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled.

Our bodies carefully regulate the level of sugar in our bloodstream through a small protein called insulin. When we eat and our sugar goes up, our pancreas pushes insulin into our arteries, allowing our cells to absorb the sugar — either into places it’s needed, like brain or muscle, or into fat storage. Diabetes occurs when our body fails to make enough insulin, or the insulin we produce doesn’t work well enough.

I suppose I should have known I’d develop diabetes; my father had it, and both of my brothers are diabetic. Like 96 million Americans, I had been told for years that I was prediabetic, based on my blood sugar being higher than normal, but not high enough to qualify for the disease.

There are two main types of diabetes. Type one is when there’s not enough insulin being made. This is most common in young people, but it can occur at any age. In type one, the only effective treatment is insulin shots.

Like 90 percent of diabetics, I have type two. Here, the body makes insulin, but the cells aren’t responding to it well. As a result, sugar builds up in the bloodstream.

Many effective medicines can make the body more responsive to insulin, some taken daily by mouth, and some given as weekly injections. Besides taking medications, type-two diabetes can be treated through healthy lifestyle changes like losing weight, eating healthy food and physical activity.

When I developed diabetes, my doctor put me on Metformin, a medicine that helps my body use insulin. I obtained an insulin-testing kit and check my sugar twice daily. The biggest change I made was cutting sweets from my diet, so no more soft drinks, candy or, my favorite, chocolate milk.

Now my weight has stabilized at 10 pounds down, and my sugar is consistently in the 110 range. I
feel good and look forward to a normal life expectancy. Other diabetics, if they manage their condition well and receive proper treatment, can look forward to the same.

Written by Dr. Philip Levin

Dr. Philip L. Levin is a retired emergency medicine specialist in Gulfport. Learn more or contact him at

29 posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *