What Is Diabetes?

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, refers to a group of diseases related to the body’s ability to metabolize food sugars (glucose), a vital source of energy for our muscles, tissues and brain. When we cannot make or effectively use our own insulin, glucose levels in the blood remain high which over time results in chronic health complications. Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including heart attack and stroke. Other health risks include kidney and dental disease, blindness, hearing loss, neuropathy, limb amputation, complications during pregnancy and in severe cases diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) a medical emergency that requires immediate medical care.

The underlying cause of diabetes varies by type. But, no matter what type of diabetes you have, it can lead to excess sugar in your blood. Too much sugar in your blood can lead to serious health problems.

Chronic diabetes conditions include type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Potentially reversible diabetes conditions include prediabetes — when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes — and gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy but may resolve after the baby is delivered.

With proper diet, exercise, medical care, and careful management at home, a person with diabetes can avoid the most serious complications and enjoy a full and active life. The diabetic care team at Community Hospital Clinics play a key role in helping patients manage diabetes successfully and avoid foot-related complications.

Common Symptoms

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Presence of ketones in the urine
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections, such as gums or skin infections and vaginal infections
  • Skin color changes
  • Swelling of the foot or ankle
  • Numbness in the feet or toes
  • Pain in the legs
  • Open sores on the feet that are slow to heal

Current Increased Risk for Diabetes and COVID-19

  • DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) Data shows that individuals with diabetes face a higher chance of experiencing serous complications from COVID-19.  Specifically, individuals with type 1 diabetes face an increased risk of DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis).  DKA can make it challenging to manage your fluid intake and electrolyte levels which is important in managing sepsis.
  • Sepsis and septic shock:  Some of the more serious complications that some people with COVID-19 have experienced.  If blood sugar levels have registered high (greater than 240mg/dl) more than 2 times in a row,  check for ketones to avoid DKA.
  • Un-managed Blood Sugars: When people with diabetes do not manage their diabetes well and experience fluctuating blood sugars, they are generally at risk for a number of diabetes-related complications. This is because when blood sugars are high, above 200mg/dl, your immune system doesn’t function well and not able to fight off infection.
  • Viral infections:  Individuals with diabetes that contract viral infections such as COVID -19, can experience increased inflammation and internal swelling. This can also be caused by above-target blood sugars, and both could contribute to more severe complications.


If you do get sick, know what to do.

If you feel like you are developing symptoms, be sure to call your doctor. Here are some common tips, which may vary for each person:

  • Drink lots of fluids. If you are having trouble keeping water down, have small sips every 15 minutes or so throughout the day to avoid dehydration.
  • If you are experiencing low (blood sugar below 70 mg/dl or your target range), eat 15 grams of simple carbs that are easy to digest like, honey, jam, Jello-O, hard candy, popsicles, juice or regular soda, and recheck your blood sugar in 15 min to make sure your levels are rising. Check your blood sugar extra times throughout the day and night (generally, every 2-3 hours; if using a CGM, monitor frequently).
  • If your blood sugar has registered high (BG greater than 240mg/dl) more than 2 times in a row, check for ketones to avoid DKA
  • Call your doctor’s office immediately, if you have medium or large ketones (and if instructed to with small ketones)
  • Be aware that some CGM sensors are impacted by Acetaminophen. Check with finger sticks to ensure accuracy.
  • Wash your hands and clean your injection/infusion and finger-stick sites with soap and water or rubbing alcohol.



    Nutrition for Diabetics

    Start managing your nutrition by purchasing a diabetic cookbook to prepare meals that help you cut calories to help lose weight. In addition it’s important to increase your daily physical activity- this is key to helping you build a healthier future. Remember Your Superfoods: 

    • Beans
    • Dark green leafy vegetables
    • Citrus fruit
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Berries
    • Tomatoes
    • Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids
    • Nuts
    • Whole grains
    • Milk and yogurt

Eat more of these: Whole, minimally processed carbohydrate foods

  • Fruits like apples, blueberries, strawberries and cantaloupe
  • Whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta and oatmeal
  • Starchy vegetables like corn, green peas, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and plantain
  • Beans like black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and green lentils

Eat less of these: Refined, high processed foods and added sugar.

  • Sugary drinks like soda, sweet tea, and juice drinks
  • Refined grains like white bread, white rice and sugary cereal
  • Sweets and snack foods like cake, cookies, candy and chips
  • Highly processed pre-packaged meals and foods.

Questions About Diabetes? 

Call Our Primary Care Clinic:  928-668-1833


This information is meant to be informative but not prescriptive. Their purpose is to provide information on diseases and processes, rather than dictate a specific form of diagnosis or treatment. The ultimate judgment regarding the propriety of any specific procedure must be made by the physician after all the circumstances are presented by the individual patient. 

Primary Care

Community Hospital Clinics are located in Wickenburg, Wittmann, and Congress. We sincerely follow our mission to provide quality health and wellness services where the patient, family, and community come first.

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