Diabetes symptoms can start gradually. You may start to notice excessive thirst, frequent urination, blurry vision, unexplained fatigue or wounds that don’t heal, to name a few. On the other hand, you may experience no symptoms at all. Chronic complications of diabetes can lead to amputation, kidney failure, neuropathy or blindness. Such are the challenges of this disease. Diabetes is complex. It’s life-changing. But it’s also manageable.
Now there is new hope in Illinois, where 1,300,000 residents (12.8% of the state population) have diabetes1. Illinoisans have access to a world-class, comprehensive diabetes program close to home at the Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at HSHS Medical Group in Springfield. This program originated at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, which is known as the global leader in diabetes research, care, and education. Joslin is affiliated with Harvard Medical School and dedicated to conquering diabetes in all its forms.
Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at HSHS Medical Group has a multidisciplinary team approach to managing diabetes that has been demonstrated to be the most effective. Their highly specialized care team includes board-certified endocrinologists, nurse practitioners, certified diabetes educators and dietitians, ophthalmologists, and podiatrists.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to properly use and store glucose (a form of sugar). Glucose backs up in the bloodstream, causing one’s blood glucose (sometimes referred to as blood sugar) to rise too high2. The Joslin team’s care plan touches on all facets of diabetes care for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
In Type 1 diabetes, the body stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables the body to use glucose found in foods for energy. Patients with Type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections to survive. This kind of diabetes usually develops in children or young adults, but can occur at any age3. Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disorder, which occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake4. It’s not curable, but it is manageable.
“With Type 1 diabetes, the disease may be diagnosed by the patient’s family physician,” said Brenda Michel, FNP, Certified Diabetes Educator, at Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at HSHS Medical Group. “However, oftentimes a patient will head to the ER because their symptoms have developed quickly. Unexplained weight loss may have occurred over several months, with a more rapid onset of increased urination and thirst along with fatigue as other indicators.”
Michel explained that doctors don’t routinely screen for Type 1 diabetes. “A simple random blood sugar test and/or a hemoglobin A1c test, a blood test that provides information about a person's average levels of blood glucose over the past three months, will determine if the patient has diabetes5.”
A person diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes must go on insulin immediately, because his or her body is not producing any insulin. The team also focuses on the patient’s diet, with particular attention to carbohydrate intake, and adjusts the person’s insulin dose as needed.
Type 2 diabetes is more common, and results when the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin and/or is resistant to insulin. This type of diabetes usually occurs in individuals who are over 40, overweight and have a family history of diabetes, although today it is increasing in younger people, particularly adolescents6. Michel said that when patients are diagnosed, they are not usually prescribed insulin. “They may be given an oral medication and will try to improve their diet and exercise program. The healthier diet would also focus on monitoring food portions, and an exercise routine may be prescribed to keep insulin resistance under control.”
“We are seeing more and more incidences of Type 2 diabetes in children—usually adolescents,” noted Michel. “While the typical symptoms can include excessive thirst, frequent urination, blurry vision and fatigue, the patient may not have any symptoms at all, just as an adult might not have symptoms for Type 2 diabetes.”
The Joslin team manages diabetes care for patients ages 5 and up. To optimize every patient’s care plan the team embraces state-of-the-art technology. For example, Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at HSHS Medical Group is the first healthcare provider in central and southern Illinois to offer the MiniMed® 670G system, the first FDA-approved hybrid closed loop system. This advanced system is the first insulin pump to automatically deliver a personalized amount of background (basal) insulin needed by the body 24 hours a day. For patients with Type 1 diabetes, who don’t have the ability to produce insulin like those with a healthy pancreas, this system will learn their insulin needs via an intelligent algorithm and deliver a tailored amount of insulin every five minutes to maximize the time their glucose levels stay within a healthy range. The system is approved for patients with Type 1 diabetes ages 14 years and older.
“This technology is a significant breakthrough for patients with Type 1 diabetes, as it will take on more of the work for patients and alleviate some of the mental burden associated with daily management,” said Poornima Jayaramaiah, MD, board-certified endocrinologist at Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at HSHS Medical Group in Springfield, IL. “The greatest advantage with the new technology is the capability to achieve good, consistent blood sugar levels with fewer incidences of high or low blood sugars.”
Michel emphasized that “education is another critical component of the diabetes care program at Joslin. In addition to one-to-one counseling with certified diabetes educators, patients and their families have access to a range of educational materials and classes. Our patient-focused classes are led by diabetes care experts and include a carb-counting and insulin class, as well as meal planning and cooking classes in the onsite state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen.”
Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at HSHS Medical Group wants patients to be able to live and enjoy healthy and active lives not limited by diabetes. Their team of providers, nurses, dieticians and educators are committed to providing the best care possible to their patients. The communities they serve have access to a world-class diabetes program, state-of-the-art technology and education.
Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at HSHS Medical Group is located at 1118 Legacy Pointe Drive in Springfield, IL. Services are also available at select medical offices in Decatur and O’Fallon, IL. For more information on a referral or to make an appointment, call (217) 787-8870 or visit www.hshsmedicalgroup.org/Joslin.