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Managing Your Diabetes: Q&A with Dr. Liana Billings

Thursday, December 03, 2015 12:02 PM

As of last year, almost 30 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes (approximately 10% of the population). Physicians like Dr. Liana Billings, Endocrinologist at NorthShore, have been working to educate patients on the disease, as well as provide up-to-date treatment options for patients to better manage their symptoms.

During our diabetes chat, Dr. Billings talked about screenings, prevention techniques and some of the latest medical advancements in treating the disease. She followed up on some of those questions here:

It is important to see an endocrinologist when you have diabetes, or is your PCP monitoring it sufficient enough?
PCPs are excellent at taking care of diabetes mellitus. I would recommend an endocrinologist if a person has type 1 diabetes or uncontrolled type 2 diabetes despite efforts to improve the blood glucose.

I have family history of Diabetes. Are there any things I can do prevent developing it? What can I change in my lifestyle so that I can prevent (if possible) hereditary Diabetes or at least push it out further?
A person at risk for diabetes can be screened yearly with a Hemoglobin A1c and a fasting glucose test.

Is it possible to reverse pre-diabetes Type 2? If so, what are some ways to do so?
Yes. Modest weight loss, 150 minutes of aerobic exercise, and a carbohydrate-controlled, well-rounded diet can reverse type 2 diabetes in some people. The key is to maintain these healthy lifestyle habits so the elevated blood glucose does not return.

I lost a lot of weight and I got rid of my diabetes, is there a chance it will come back?
Yes, it is possible for it to come back. You reduce your risk of it returning if you maintain a normal weight, regular exercise, and a healthy diet.

I've heard that a diabetic person could have to get their feet amputated, or could become blind as a result of this disease! Why does this happen?
Elevated blood glucose damages the blood vessels that go to the eyes, kidneys, heart, nerves and feet. Controlling the blood glucose can help reduce this damage and prevent these serious complications.

Are there side-effects to any of the new discoveries and treatment options?
Yes, there are side-effects reported for most medications. The particular side-effect depends on the treatment.