The most prevalent endocrine disease in the United States is diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body does not produce or properly use the hormone insulin. Insulin is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy for daily life. An estimated 26 million people in the United States have diabetes.
The pancreas, a large gland in the abdomen, produces insulin and glucagon to regulate the level of sugar carried in blood. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make any insulin, or it does not make enough insulin, or the body is not able to use the insulin the pancreas makes. This causes high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia.
Diabetes is associated with long-term damage to and failure of various organs, especially the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and blood vessels. There are two main types of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes affects about 10 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes. In people with type 1, the body is unable to produce insulin.
In type 2 diabetes, which occurs primarily because of obesity, the cells of the body are resistant to insulin. The pancreas produces more insulin, but it is not enough to overcome the resistance, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels.
In addition, there are several less common types of diabetes that are associated with other conditions, including genetic defects in insulin production, pancreas disease and other endocrine disorders.
Gestational diabetes affects about 4 percent of pregnant women who have never had diabetes before, but who have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy.
Pre-diabetes is a condition that occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. People who have pre-diabetes have a high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Pre-diabetes is also referred to as impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance, depending on the test used. In many cases, progression from pre-diabetes to Type 2 diabetes can be prevented with lifestyle changes (diet changes and exercise) and weight loss.
Diabetes Support Group
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin conduct a diabetes support group every other month. Topics include diabetes 101, meal planning for the holidays, diabetic foot care, new advances in treatment and metabolic syndrome in addition to a variety of other topics of interest to members of the group to improve self management skills and awareness.