Diabetes occurs when you lack the hormone insulin, or when your insulin is not working properly to move blood sugar (blood glucose) to your body's cells. This causes glucose to rise to abnormally high levels in your blood, which can damage your organs.
Signs You May Have Diabetes
You may have diabetes but not experience any symptoms. Or you may have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive hunger
- Unusual weight loss
- Slow-healing sores
- Foot pain or numbness
- Blurry eyesight
Types of Diabetes
- Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disease in which the body destroys cells that make insulin. You'll need insulin injections to manage this type of diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes is more common. It occurs when your body does not use insulin properly. Over time, your body cannot produce enough insulin to function properly — causing glucose to build up in the blood, which can damage your organs.
- Gestational diabetes is type 2 diabetes that develops during pregnancy and goes away after the baby is born. If you develop gestational diabetes, you have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
If you are overweight or physically inactive, you are at higher risk for diabetes. You are also at higher risk if family members have diabetes. With regular checkups, your provider can check for early signs of the disease — which allows for proper treatment to prevent the development of serious health problems.
Care for Diabetes at Rush
If you have any symptoms of diabetes, visit your primary care provider. A blood test can determine if you have diabetes.
If you have diabetes, we will teach you how to check your blood sugar level, and how to respond when your levels are too low or high. Type 1 diabetes is managed with regular insulin shots, while oral tablets are often effective for type 2 diabetes.
Healthy eating and physical activity are crucial to managing diabetes. Your provider may suggest you work with a dietitian to develop a healthy eating plan to help control your blood sugar. Rush Diabetes Education Centers also have specialized teams of physicians, nurses and dietitians who can help you with education and treatment.
Preventing Diabetes Complications
High blood sugar can cause serious health problems and may contribute to the following complications:
- Kidney disease
- Nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy)
- Eye disease (diabetic retinopathy)
- Heart disease
- Loss (amputation) of feet or legs
You can prevent these complications by seeing your doctor for regular appointments and monitoring the following:
- Blood glucose
- Blood pressure
- LDL (the "bad" cholesterol)
- Kidney function
Diabetes and Mental Health
Rush also offers psychotherapy services to help you deal with the social and emotional challenges of living with diabetes:
- Behavioral, mental or emotional challenges that can make it difficult to stick with diabetes treatment
- Lifestyle changes for weight management
- Stress management
- Mood or anxiety concerns
Rush Excellence in Diabetes
- National recognition: Our Diabetes Centers at Rush University Medical Center, Rush Copley Medical Center and Rush Oak Park Hospital provide the quality education and care you need to manage your diabetes. These programs have been recognized by the American Diabetes Association.
- Expertise in treating all ages: In addition to treating adults, Rush University Medical Center has a dedicated program for children and adolescents dealing with diabetes. Our team will help your child live a full and healthy life with the right medical treatments, expert disease management and lifestyle changes.
- Specialists in managing diabetes in the hospital: Illness and surgery can affect your blood sugar levels. At Rush hospitals, most inpatients with diabetes have their blood sugar level monitored and treated by an endocrinology team member 24 hours a day.
- Among the nation's best diabetes care: U.S. News & World Report ranked Rush University Medical Center's diabetes and endocrinology program among the best in the nation.