Managing diabetes can be life changing

If left unmanaged, diabetes can lead to serious health problems. However, prompt and effective treatment is allowing people with the disease to live longer, healthier lives with fewer complications. Rose City primary care nurse practitioner Michelle VanOosten sees firsthand the difference well-controlled diabetes has on her patients and wants others to know help is available.

“Diabetes is a complicated disease,” said VanOosten. “It can damage the eyes, kidneys, heart, blood vessels, and nerves, including those to your hands and feet. However, finding a healthcare provider to treat and monitor the condition can greatly improve one’s quality of life.”

In general, there are two types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes, where your body doesn’t produce insulin at all. Type 2 diabetes, which is much more common, is a condition in which the body’s tissues become resistant to the insulin that helps absorb the sugar.

“The vast majority of patients don’t experience signs or symptoms,” said VanOosten. “In severe diabetes, you may notice that you have excess thirst, hunger and urination. You might also experience fatigue. In males it could be associated with erectile dysfunction, or in some people, it manifests as a stroke or heart disease.”

If diabetes is caught in the early stage, also known as pre-diabetes, there are more options for getting the disease under control and possibly even managing it without medications or insulin.

“If a patient is diagnosed with pre-diabetes, I advise them to start eating a diabetic diet, which cuts out carbs, and doing some form of cardio exercise 30 minutes every day,” said VanOosten. “I may also start the patient on a drug called Metformin, which raises your sensitivity to insulin, causing your tissues to absorb sugar better.”

Once diagnosed with diabetes, there are still many lifestyle changes that can be made to help control the disease with little medical intervention. “Working to get back to a normal BMI range, including eating a balanced diet and exercising every day can make a big difference.”

If the diabetes is unable to be controlled with lifestyle changes, medical interventions may be explored. With Type 2 diabetes, you may be prescribed injections of insulin or you may be prescribed a medication or multiple medications. Those medications work on different aspects of the disease.

“There are medications that improve the sensitivity of the tissues to insulin so your tissues are able to absorb sugar easier. There are also medications known as GLP-1 that increase the insulin your body already makes,” said VanOosten. “A new class of medications approved by the FDA called SGLT2 inhibitors bypass both problems and just lower renal re-absorption of sugar and cause you to urinate out the excess sugar.”

“Diabetes is a disease where the best treatment is prevention,” said VanOosten. “You can’t undo the damage, but you can slow or even stop progression with treatment. Seeing my patients healthier and happier with good management is very rewarding. I’d like to know everyone has an opportunity to experience that level of care.”

Michelle VanOosten is now accepting new patients at McLaren Primary Care RHC Rose City at 2990 Campbell Road. Most major insurances are accepted. Appointments can be made by calling, (989) 685-2333 or by going online to schedule anytime at