HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Diabetes impacts millions across the globe daily.
“It’s a chronic disease,” said Linda Gwaltney, director of Diabetes Education at Hattiesburg Clinic. “It’s a serious disease. It can affect a whole lot of things in your body.”
Living with diabetes is no easy task.
“I was one of those guys who was really surprised,” said Type 2 diabetic Robert Gwaltney. “You’re 60 years old and we’re going to do a glucose tolerance test on you and ‘Voilà,’ I have diabetes.”
But it can be managed.
"What was hard was for me to change my thinking to 'I've got this disease.' Even though I don't feel different, I've got the disease,” said Robert. “I didn't want to become like a lot of people where they had amputations or end up with cardiovascular disease."
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 30.3 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, which is around 9% of the country’s population.
Diabetes is a long-term disease that effects the way your body creates energy from foods.
Insulin is a hormone located in the pancreas that breaks down sugars and turns it into energy. A diabetic pancreas doesn’t do that.
"Insulin is a regulatory hormone that is necessary to get the glucose or blood sugar into your cells to be used,” said Linda.
There are two different types of Diabetes: Type 1, an autoimmune disease in which the body produces no insulin at all and Type two, in which the body produces some but not enough insulin.
People with Type 1 diabetes must have insulin continuously running through their bodies. Since they don’t produce their own insulin, they must have things like a pump doing it for them.
Insulin pumps come in many different types of varieties. Some bluetooth to a PDM that controls how much insulin is being given every hour every day based on how much someone is eating and what their blood sugar levels are.
Type 2 diabetes is most common. Most people with Type 2 only have to take a pill every day to manage it.
"It's known as an insulin resistance disease,” said Linda. “The cells need insulin to help get the glucose or blood sugar inside the cells are not working quite right. The insulin is not doing its job quite right."
In many cases, diabetes can be genetic. Often, it is caused by lifestyle choices.
"How they eat, how they move, how they are processing energy,” said Linda.
Diabetes can be a big life change for those recently diagnosed.
The Hattiesburg Clinic offers several support programs to help with the lifestyle change.
“We go through a focus on managing your health,” said Linda. “Seven self-care behaviors is our focus. We walk people through a kind of learn it-live it model. Build your knowledge and go out with small goals in small increments. Do a little bit of tweaking to your lifestyle and make changes.”
“I wanted to really understand the disease and the science behind it,” said Robert. “What it was doing to my body and how to prevent it from getting worse because I have it, it’s just a matter of getting it under control.”
According to the CDC, Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations and adult blindness.