From taking medication and testing your blood sugar, to eating a healthy food and being physically active, living with diabetes can be overwhelming and affect nearly every aspect of your life and your health. With help from our team of experts, you'll learn how to manage your diabetes to meet your health goals. The diabetes specialists at MedStar Health have vast experience managing diabetes. We offer a multidisciplinary approach to your care, meaning we collaborate with all other specialists you may need.
Our team evaluates you and works with you to meet your needs and overall health goals. With a team of specialists like this behind you, you'll feel confident about the care you're getting.
Find a Location
MedStar Diabetes Institute is locations throughout the Maryland and Washington, D.C. area. Find a location close to you.
Are you at risk for Type 2 diabetes?
In under a minute, you can learn your risk for Type 2 diabetes.
What is diabetes?
Your body changes much of the food that you eat into sugar. Your body uses sugar for fuel. Sugar is carried by the blood to the body’s cells, where it is used for energy or stored to be used at a later time. Insulin is normally made in a part of the body called the pancreas. Insulin is like a key. In a person who does not have diabetes, sugar enters cells with the help of insulin, in the same way that a key unlocks a door, so you can open it to get into your house. If your body does not make enough insulin or if the insulin that your body makes does not work well, then sugar cannot get into the cells where it is needed for energy. It stays in the blood. This makes the blood sugar level higher than it should be, causing you to have diabetes.
If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. This is a problem because you need insulin to take the sugar from the foods you eat and turn it into energy for your body. You need to take insulin every day to live. You must ALWAYS take your insulin, or your blood sugar levels will become very high. When this happens, you will become sick in a short period of time—perhaps even in just a few hours.
In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, the hormone that allows the body to process sugar. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day to live.
Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have pre-diabetes—blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Research has shown that some long-term damage to the body, especially the heart and circulatory system, may already be occurring during pre-diabetes.
However, if you take action to control your blood glucose when you have pre-diabetes, you can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes from developing. If you have, or are at risk for pre-diabetes, there are many steps you can take for your health and well-being. The US Diabetes Prevention Program Study has shown that people with pre-diabetes can prevent or delay diabetes through getting 150 minutes of physical activity each week and losing 5-7% of their body weight (10-14 pound weight loss in a 200 pound person). If you have pre-diabetes, consider joining a Diabetes Prevention Program near you or schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian.
Hormonal changes and weight gain are part of a normal pregnancy. But for at least six to nine out of every 100 pregnant women, these changes cause a rise in blood sugar, resulting in gestational diabetes. With proper treatment, gestational diabetes can be controlled, preventing harm to you and your baby.
The key to keeping yourself and your baby healthy is to manage your blood sugar levels by healthy eating, physical activity and if needed diabetes medication. It is important to know that what you eat, how much you eat and how often you eat each affect your blood sugar levels.
Meet with a Diabetes Care and Education Specialist to learn how to take care of yourself and manage your blood sugar levels.
- Diabetes that is caused by medicines called glucocorticoids, for example prednisone or hydrocortisone, is called steroid diabetes
- If you have had surgery to remove your pancreas (where insulin is made), or if it has been damaged, then you will also have diabetes
What are some of the signs and symptoms of diabetes?
If your blood sugar is high:
What are the risk factors and some ways to reduce the risks if you already have diabetes?
Certain health problems put you at higher risk for diabetes and heart disease. Understanding and managing your risk factors can help you avoid diabetes.
Risk factors associated with diabetes that can be controlled:
Risk factors associated with diabetes that cannot be controlled:
Why you should take care of your diabetes?
Taking care of your diabetes means keeping your blood sugar level as close to normal as possible. This is your target sugar. Blood sugar levels that are too high can cause problems right away, known as the acute complications of diabetes, including:
- Blurred eyesight or trouble seeing things
- Loss of body water that can cause low blood pressure (dizziness, passing out) or kidney trouble
- Hard to ﬁght off sickness or infections
- Pain when you pee, itching in the vaginal area, fever and feeling very ill, fever with a cough, and foot infections
- Very high blood sugar levels, known as DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis), if you have type 1 diabetes, or HHS (hyperosmolar coma) if you have type 2 diabetes
If your blood sugars are high for many years, you are at risk for problems known as the chronic or long-term complications of diabetes.
These problems include changes in your:
- Gums and teeth
These problems increase your risk for:
- Loss of a foot
- Dental disease
- Heart disease/stroke
- Loss of sensation
There is good news! Research has shown that when blood sugar levels are kept as close to target, many of the problems of diabetes will not happen or will not get worse. Working closely with your doctor and your diabetes team, and learning as much as you can about taking care of your diabetes will help prevent your chances of getting diabetes-related problems.
Staying Well with Diabetes: Your Diabetes Care Team
Staying well with diabetes begins by learning as much as you can about managing your blood sugar level, so it doesn’t control you. Your doctor and your diabetes team can help you do this.Your diabetes care team should include:
- YOU (you’re #1, the captain of the team!)
- A primary care doctor and/or a diabetes doctor
- A Diabetes Care and Education Specialist ( dietitian, nurse educator, pharmacist)
- A family member, friend, or clergyperson for support
Make sure that you talk to your diabetes team about what works well with your lifestyle. It is very important that your diabetes plan ﬁts YOU.
To learn the skills to manage your diabetes work with a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. There are four points in your life when it is important to see a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist and learn more about your diabetes:
- When you ﬁnd out you have diabetes
- Every year
- If major changes in your life take place
- If you start to have problems with diabetes
See the listing of our Diabetes Education Centers below to make an appointment with a Diabetes Care and Education Specialist.
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
9000 Franklin Square Dr., 1CA
Baltimore, MD 21237
MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
5601 Loch Raven Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21239
MedStar Harbor Hospital
3001 South Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225
MedStar Medical Group
90 Olney Sandy Spring Rd.
Olney, MD 20832
MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center
7501 Surratts Road, Suite 304
Clinton, MD 20735
MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital
25500 Point Lookout Rd., P.O. Box 527
Leonardtown, MD 21208
MedStar Union Memorial Hospital
201 E University Pkwy. #526
Baltimore, MD 21218