Diabetes Care at Mile SquareEvery time you eat or drink carbohydrates — like starches, grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, or sweets — your body converts that food or beverage into energy. But if you have diabetes, this process is delayed or doesn’t go as planned.

Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that delays or keeps your body from converting food into energy. This leads to high glucose levels in the bloodstream. If left unmanaged, it can cause heart disease, kidney disease, and vision loss, among other health concerns.

While there isn’t a cure for diabetes, there are ways to manage it so you can stay healthy now and in the future. At Mile Square Health Center, our healthcare providers, including primary care providers and diabetes educators, are committed to helping you understand your diabetes and how to manage it for life.

What is Diabetes?

When you eat or drink carbohydrates, your body breaks it down into sugar (called glucose). Then, it’s sent into your bloodstream, which causes your blood sugar to go up and your pancreas to release a hormone called insulin. This process allows your body’s cells to use that sugar for energy.

If you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or isn’t able to use it as it should. As a result, sugar is left in your blood, and over time, too much of it can build up. If not managed, this build-up of sugar can cause other health problems, including heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage (especially in the feet), and skin and mouth conditions.

What Are the Different Types of Diabetes?

There are two kinds of chronic diabetes: type 1 and type 2. There’s also gestational diabetes, which is when you develop diabetes during pregnancy.

Type 1 diabetes is likely caused by your body’s immune system attacking itself by mistake, causing you to stop making insulin. Type 1 diabetes only makes up about 5 to 10% of diabetes cases. It can be diagnosed at any age, and there’s no known way to prevent it.

Type 2 diabetes — the more common form of diabetes — is when your body can’t use insulin as it should, which keeps it from maintaining normal blood sugar levels. It’s typically diagnosed in adults, but in recent years, more children and teens have been diagnosed. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by eating healthy, staying active, and losing weight if you’re overweight.

Gestational diabetes is when women who have never had diabetes develop the condition while they’re pregnant. In many cases, gestational diabetes goes away after pregnancy. However, it can make you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later, and it also puts your baby at a higher risk of obesity in childhood and type 2 diabetes in adulthood.

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes, which is a step before diabetes, is when your blood sugar levels are higher than they should be — but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes.

More than 1 in 3 adults in the US have prediabetes — and more than 8 in 10 of them aren’t aware they have it.

If you have prediabetes, you have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes. You also have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, unlike diabetes, prediabetes can be reversed through healthy lifestyle changes, including eating healthy, getting regular exercise, and managing stress.

The Rate of Diabetes in Chicago and Among Black Communities

In Chicago, the rate of diabetes is about 10% of the entire population. But in the communities surrounding Mile Square and UI Health, the rate is much higher — ranging from 20% to almost 40%.

Diabetes also disproportionately affects Black communities, with higher rates of diagnosis and diabetes-related complications.

  1. Black adults are 60% more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes.
  2. Non-Hispanic Black adults are two times as likely to die from diabetes compared to non-Hispanic white adults.
  3. Non-Hispanic Black adults are 2.5 times more likely to require hospitalization due to diabetes and complications compared to non-Hispanic white adults.

At Mile Square, our goal is to spread awareness about preventing, diagnosing, and managing diabetes among our communities. By understanding your individual risk factors, including how your lifestyle choices may put you at risk, you can take steps to prevent diabetes. If you do develop diabetes, getting diagnosed early and managing it properly is critical to maintaining lifelong health.

How is Diabetes Treated?

While there is no cure for diabetes, it can be managed with the right treatment options depending on your type of diabetes. Managing your diabetes is crucial to avoiding complications and staying healthy.

Diabetes treatment for all kinds of diabetes includes eating healthy. This means focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Planning what to eat when you have diabetes can be tough, but your healthcare provider can help you understand what to eat, what to avoid, and how to do so in a way that fits your lifestyle.

All types of diabetes treatment plans also include regular exercise, which lowers your blood sugar level by sending sugar into your cells where it’s used up as energy. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. If you haven’t exercised in a while, start slowly, and build up to more exercise over time. Also, avoid sitting for long periods of time by getting up and moving around if you’ve been seated for a half hour or more.

For type 1 diabetes, you may also need treatment such as:

  • Insulin injections or an insulin pump
  • Blood sugar monitoring (when you track your blood sugar to understand what makes your blood sugar go up or down)
  • Carbohydrate counting (when you count the amount of carbohydrates in a meal and match it to your dose of insulin)
  • Pancreas transplant or islet cell transplant

For type 2 diabetes, you may also need treatment such as:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Blood sugar monitoring
  • Oral diabetes drugs, insulin, or both

Managing Diabetes at Mile Square Health Center

If you are at risk of developing diabetes, have prediabetes, or have been diagnosed with diabetes, you don’t have to manage your health on your own. Instead, lean on the experts, including your healthcare providers at Mile Square Health Center, who can help you figure out what treatment you need, what lifestyle changes you need to make, and how to take steps toward a healthier future.