Understanding the treating diabetes is important to ensure a patient’s long-term success when it comes to managing the disease.

Patricia Tyndale, RD, works in diabetes education at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital.  “Diabetes in a chronic condition that affects your blood sugars.  It affects the way your body metabolizes carbohydrates,” she noted.  

Tyndale notes that patients must pay attention to their disease, and people who haven’t been diagnosed should also be vigilant. “It’s important to be aware, and have your doctor monitor, or even check you for diabetes without you having symptoms.”

If diabetes is left un-diagnosed, or not properly managed, it can take a toll on the body in several ways. “You can develop eye problems, resulting in blindness actually,” said Tyndale. “You can also develop kidney problems.”

So, how do you know if you might be at risk?

“For Type 2 diabetes, common risk factors are being overweight, having a family history of diabetes, or having a history of gestational diabetes,” noted Tyndale.

Tyndale also says that significant weight loss, blurred vision, increased frequency of urination and increased thirst are also signs that shouldn’t be ignored. “It’s important to have community support for diabetes, whether it’s having a community dietician, having some sort of support involving your church, having the support of your family definitely has great benefits.”

Sentara Martha Jefferson hosts a Diabetes Support group that meets the second Wednesday of every month from 12 – 1 p.m.  

The hospital also hosts a Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes Supermarket Smarts grocery story tour. 

For more information on this topic, please call 1-800-SENTARA. If you have a question about your health you’d like us to answer, email healthquestions@nbc29.com