Diabetes: An Overview
Guest: Dr. Soon Kwon - Endocrinology, Diabetes & Medical Genetics, MUSC
Host: Dr. Linda Austin – Psychiatry, MUSC
Dr. Linda Austin: I’m Dr. Linda Austin. I’m interviewing Dr. Soon Kwon, who is an endocrinologist. He is Assistant Professor of Endocrinology in the Department of Internal Medicine here at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Kwon, one of the diseases that any endocrinologist; in fact, many doctors, treat is diabetes. Let’s talk, first, about the initial symptoms of diabetes. What are the first things that a person might notice?
Dr. Soon Kwon: The first symptoms someone who’s just developed diabetes could present with are thirstiness, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, and extreme fatigue. Those are the initial symptoms. So, if someone has any of these symptoms, they should have their blood glucose level checked.
Dr. Linda Austin: And, how does a doctor check blood glucose level?
Dr. Soon Kwon: There are several ways. We can check the plasma glucose level. We draw your blood and run some tests for the level of glucose. Also, these days, one can use glucometer. These are available at the doctor’s office, or some people carry them with them so they can easily check their blood glucose level.
Dr. Linda Austin: Now, diabetes, of course, can be very severe and difficult to control in some patients, and not as much in others. In the United States, of course, we have an epidemic, now, of diabetes due to being overweight. If a person is borderline diabetic, can they bring that under control just by controlling their weight?
Dr. Soon Kwon: That’s correct. Depending on the stage of diabetes; type 2, or adult, diabetes, you can completely control your blood glucose level with diet, exercise, and careful monitoring. But, as diabetes progresses, you might have to consider taking medication, and insulin therapy, to control your blood sugar. So, the best way to prevent the progression of diabetes is through diet and exercise.
Dr. Linda Austin: Why is it so important to treat diabetes, and to treat it early?
Dr. Soon Kwon: Because it affects all of your body’s systems. Also, diabetes, if not controlled, results in long-term complications, such as eye damage, kidney damage, diabetic foot ulcers that, sometimes, can lead to amputation. Uncontrolled diabetes is also known to be associated with high comorbidity, such as complications resulting from surgery. Those people have difficulty with healing after surgery, and so on. Diabetes is a big concern these days, in this country.
Dr. Linda Austin: And, why is that diabetes is becoming so much more common than it used to be, and are there any particular groups that are especially at risk for diabetes?
Dr. Soon Kwon: Type 2 diabetes, one of the major factors is weight gain. Therefore, weight gain is one of the big risk factors for triggering diabetes. Of course, there are genetic factors involved. But, as long as you keep your weight down, you’re at a lower risk for developing diabetes.
Dr. Linda Austin: Dr. Kwon, thank you so much for talking with us today.
Dr. Soon Kwon: Thank you.
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