By Anthony G. Alessi M.D.

 

 

Diabetes mellitus affects 25.8 million Americans. The estimated price tag for this single condition is $174 billion each year. These two statistics make it imperative that all Americans become aware of the causes of diabetes and its treatment.

 

 

Glucose is essential for normal physiology. It is a principal source of energy for cell function. When the blood glucose level is chronically elevated, this condition is known as diabetes mellitus and carries with it serious complications.

Food provides the biggest source of glucose. It is also stored in the liver and released when the blood level drops. Glucose moves from the bloodstream into cells with the use of a hormone called insulin that is produced in the pancreas.

 

Diabetes is classified as type 1 and type 2. Type 1 results from the destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It can be caused by viral illness, environmental influences or genetic factors. A resistance to the action of insulin by cells causes type 2. Many factors play a role in developing type 2 diabetes; the most prominent include obesity, inactivity, family history and older age.

 

 

Common symptoms of diabetes include: frequent urination, increased thirst, extreme hunger and fatigue. The complications associated with persistent elevation of blood sugar are life threatening. Among them are: vascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes, nerve damage, visual loss and kidney failure.

 

 

Impaired glucose tolerance or prediabetes often leads to type 2 diabetes. Although the fasting blood sugar level may be normal in this condition, the level is prominently elevated 2 hours after eating. This is detected through the use of a blood test known as a “glucose tolerance test.”

 

 

The early detection and aggressive treatment of impaired glucose tolerance with diet and exercise is often sufficient to avoid diabetes.

 

 

About the Author:

Anthony G. Alessi, MD, MMM, graduated from the University of Rome and completed his residency and neuromuscular fellowship at the University of Michigan. He is in private practice in Norwich, CT, specializing in neurology, electrodiagnosticmedicineand sports neurology. He is board-certified in neurology and electrodiagnostic medicine. Dr. Alessi received his Masters degree in Medical Management from the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University in 2001.

He serves as a neurologic consultant to many athletic organizations including the University of Connecticut Athletic Department, Norwich Free Academy and the Connecticut State Boxing Commission.Dr. Alessi also serves as neurologic consultant to the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, CT Sun (WNBA) and Hartford Colonials (UFL).

He is medical director of the William W. Backus Hospital Stroke Center, writes a syndicated column, “HealthySports,” for the Norwich Bulletin and is host of “Neuro Frontiers” on Reach MD XM 160 and “Healthy Rounds,” syndicated through WTIC 1080, the Hartford CBS affiliate.

Dr. Alessi’s book, “Healthy Sports: A Doctor’s Lessons for a Winning Lifestyle,” is a compilation of instructive columns. His most recent book, “Lift Up Your Hearts: Healing Haiti, Land of Hardship,” recounts the work of Dr. Alessi and other medical volunteers after the earthquake in Haiti.Reach him at www.alessimd.com.

 

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