Your First Choice for Diabetes Care and Education

If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, gestational diabetes or prediabetes, the skilled and caring staff at Portsmouth Regional Hospital will work with you and your doctor to help you maintain your health and achieve the best possible outcomes. Managing diabetes now can mean a healthier life later.

Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that leaves the body with a shortage of insulin or a decreased ability to use insulin, a hormone that allows sugar (glucose) to be converted to energy. When the body can't produce enough insulin or the cells don't use it effectively, glucose remains in the blood and can cause damage to vital organs. Untreated, diabetes can lead to conditions ranging from dizziness to more serious health concerns including heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, circulatory problems, pregnancy complications and death.

Although the cause of diabetes remains uncertain, there are several known risk factors. Research indicates that people at risk for diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease by making lifestyle changes to modify or eliminate risk factors.

Risk factors for diabetes include:

  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • High blood pressure (140/90 or higher)
  • High cholesterol
  • Inactivity
  • Age
  • Heredity
  • Ethnic background — African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and Asians experience higher rates of diabetes
  • History of babies weighing more than nine pounds at birth
  • Previous gestational diabetes

The most common forms of diabetes include:

  • Type 1 diabetes - This type of diabetes, accounting for 5 to 10 percent of all cases, is an autoimmune disease in which the body fails to produce any insulin. It generally appears in childhood or early adulthood. People with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin injections to regulate glucose levels.
  • Type 2 diabetes - Accounting for 90 to 95 percent of the diabetic population, Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder that occurs when the body can't produce enough or properly use insulin. The incidence of Type 2 diabetes in the United States is growing at an epidemic rate due to increased obesity and sedentary lifestyles.
  • Gestational diabetes - This condition occurs among a small percentage of women during pregnancy, raising glucose levels and creating other diabetic symptoms. It's caused by the blocking effects that hormones have on insulin. Learn more about pregnancy and birth services at Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

Various tests are used to determine an individual's blood glucose level, which indicates whether diabetes is present. Doctors recommend that all adults be tested for diabetes every five years beginning at age 45. If you have a number of risk factors, you may wish to talk with your doctor about being tested earlier.

To learn more about the risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diabetes, visit our online Health Library.

Your Partner in Diabetes Care

When it comes to managing your diabetes, you're not alone. Your primary care provider and or endocrinologist will help you develop a plan to control your glucose level and maintain your weight or get to your ideal weight. You'll also want to take advantage of services that assist you with learning more about diabetes, preparing nutritious meals and snacks, exploring surgical options for weight loss, increasing your physical fitness and improving your overall health:

Talk with a Diabetes Nurse Educator

You'll need a physician's referral to talk with a diabetes nurse educator. Once you have a referral, call (603) 334-2006 to schedule your appointment and get started on the path to healthier living.