With November being American Diabetes Awareness Month, Dr. Wonil Tae, an endocrinologist with OSF Saint Anthony’s Physician Group, said people should take the opportunity to have a conversation with their health care provider if there are any concerns that diabetes may be an issue.
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that means the body does not make enough insulin or it is not able to use the insulin it makes. The body needs the hormone insulin to change blood sugar (glucose) into energy. Without insulin, too much glucose collects in the blood.
It is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Except for gestational diabetes, diabetes is a chronic, incurable disease that affects nearly every part of the body. It contributes to other serious diseases and can be life-threatening. Diabetes must be managed under the care of a healthcare provider throughout a person's life. The serious complications of diabetes can be prevented or stopped from progressing with proper care.
The three main types of diabetes are similar in the buildup of blood glucose because of problems with insulin. But each has a different cause and treatment:
- Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The body's immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. This means that the body has no or only a small amount of insulin. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day in order to live.
- Type 2 diabetes happens when the body cannot make enough insulin or is not able to use it properly. Type 2 diabetes may be controlled with diet, exercise, and weight loss, or may need oral medicines or insulin injections.
- Gestational diabetes happens in pregnant women who have not been diagnosed with diabetes in the past. In a woman with gestational diabetes, the body cannot effectively use the insulin that is present. This type of diabetes goes away after delivery.
Lois Daniels is a certified diabetes educator and coordinator of the Diabetes Self-Management Skills Program offered through Diabetes Services at OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center. OSF Saint Anthony’s Diabetes Center is recognized by the American Diabetes Association for having met National standards for Excellence in Diabetes education.
“We see patients by referral from their physician. Once referred the patient comes for a new patient visit where we do a detailed history of what the patient knows, needs to know, and what they are already doing so together we can decide what will help them best manage their diabetes,” Daniels said.
Sessions offered through the program include meal planning, understanding diabetes, preventing complications, monitoring blood glucose and understanding medication including insulin pump therapy and insulin injections. Education on gestational diabetes or pregnancy with diabetes is also available.
“Upon completion of the program session, the patient is scheduled for one or more follow up visits to evaluate their progress and evaluate the need for any further changes such as adjustment in meal plan or medication therapies,” Daniels said. “Each time we see the patient a communication is sent to their physician so all members of the patient’s health care team are aware of problems, changes and achievements in the patient learning diabetes self-management.”
Daniels said by attending the sessions and follow up visits, patient are able to achieve an optimal level of health and prevent complications often associated with diabetes.
“Seventy-five percent of the patients we see meet their goals set at the beginning of the program, 98 percent of attendees rate the program as excellent or good,” Daniels said. “Over 65 physicians from the bi-state area referred patients to us last year.”
Dr. Tae, who joined the medical staff of OSF Saint Anthony's Physician Group in July, has advanced training in endocrinology and is the Alton area's only full-time endocrinologist. He came to OSF Saint Anthony’s because he was drawn to how dedicated the doctors are in assisting patients with all their needs.
“This was a place I wanted to be involved in because I was inspired by how they treat their patients and the way everyone was part of the team,” he said.
He said while there is still no cure for diabetes, there is good news; type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed.
“Awareness and the subsequent action of lifestyle changes are the two keys to preventing diabetes,” Dr. Tae said. “Studies demonstrate that community-based intervention programs are extremely effective in reducing diabetic risk.”
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, people over age 45 should be tested for pre-diabetes or diabetes. If the first blood glucose test is normal, they should be retested every three years.
People under age 45 should consider getting tested for pre-diabetes or diabetes if they have a body mass index (BMI) of greater than or equal to 25 and have one or more of the following risk factors:
- Have a first-degree relative with diabetes (mother, father, or sibling).
- Are a member of a high-risk ethnic group (African American, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, or Native American).
- Delivered a baby weighing more than 9 pounds, or had diabetes during pregnancy.
- Have high blood pressure.
Those concerned about diabetes can take OSF Saint Anthony’s Diabetes Risk Assessment at www.osfhealthcare.org/DiabetesRisk/.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Tae, call (618) 462-2222. For information about OSF Saint Anthony’s Diabetes Services, call (618) 474-5012.