Diabetes is the common name for “diabetes mellitus” (DM). It is a group of diseases that prevent your body from using blood glucose properly. Blood glucose, which is also known as blood sugar, is important to help your body function as it should. It is the main source of energy for the cells in your body that make up your muscles and tissues. Think of glucose as your body’s main source of fuel or energy. When your body can’t break down blood sugar and process that energy the way it’s supposed to, your body won’t work the way it should. This is basically what happens when a person has diabetes.
Insulin is a substance that is normally produced by the pancreas. Our bodies need it in order to use the sugar in the blood. When the pancreas doesn't produce enough or any insulin, or the insulin it does produce doesn't work correctly, their blood sugar levels will rise. People with diabetes have too much sugar in their blood, which can lead to serious health problems.
Diabetes is often diagnosed and treated by primary care physicians; however, the specialty that handles diabetes is called Endocrinology. Endocrinologists and specially-trained staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital run a number of programs dedicated entirely to diabetes care and education, including:
- Diabetes Education Service
The diabetes education service is an inpatient diabetes education program that is run by a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) who is a registered nurse and nurse practitioner. Our current inpatient CDE works full time with patients, helping them understand what diabetes is, how it affects them, what their treatment will likely entail and what they can do to self-manage their diabetes
- Diabetes Management Service
Diabetes management service is an inpatient program in which physicians and nurse practitioners work with patients in the hospital, managing their blood sugars.
- Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs)
CDEs are specially-trained individuals who work with people with diabetes. Currently, there are CDEs at Northwestern Memorial, the Center for Lifestyle Medicine and the Center for Integrative Medicine & Wellness.
- The Health Learning Center
The Alberto Culver Health Learning Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital provides diabetes education materials to people interested in learning more about diabetes, including educational packets for patients who are newly diagnosed.
- Registered Dietitians (RDs)
We staff RDs to help patients and community members make the best possible food choices. RDs often work with patients who are on a variety of diets to help them plan and find realistic ways to make their diets healthier. Appointments with RDs can be made through the Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness at 312-926-3627 and the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at 312-695-2300.
Programs & Research
- Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM)
CGM provides qualified patients with the information needed to assist them in designing individualized diabetes treatment programs based on detailed blood sugar profiles. They are used together with home blood glucose monitoring. If you are interested in this program, please call 312-695-7970 and ask for Adelina Garza.
- Insulin Pump/Real-Time Sensing Start Up Program
This is a 12-week training program for patients who are interested in beginning Insulin Pump and/or Real Time Sensing as a part of their diabetes treatment. If you are interested in this program, please call 312-695-7970 and ask for Adelina Garza.
- Diabetes Mellitus Research Studies
These studies are run by Certified Diabetes Educators, and in the past, we’ve performed Diabetes Prevention Trials.
- Diabetes Collaborative
The Diabetes Collaborative is a program to help diabetic patients living in underserved areas. We have developed and implemented a patient-centered, cost-effective care program, called the Diabetes Collaborative, that helps patients self-manage their diabetes.
- Weight Management Programs
These programs help patients lose weight, which in turn reduces the risk of diabetes or helps people with diabetes keep their symptoms and complications under control. When people with diabetes are severely overweight and are unable to keep weight off through diet and exercise, weight loss surgery might be an option for them in an effort to control diabetes symptoms and complications. The medical weight management specialists of the Weight Loss Surgery Program utilizes a team approach to caring for patients. The team includes dietitians, psychologists and medical specialists, such as endocrinologists. To learn more about their services, contact the Weight Loss Surgery Program at 312-695-7070.
- Pancreas and Islet Cell Transplants
Transplants are potential treatments for some people with diabetes. Northwestern Memorial has the largest pancreas transplant program in Illinois and one of the largest in the United States. The transplant team collaborates closely with physicians and surgeons who are recognized leaders in the treatment of diabetes.
- The Limb Preservation and Wound Care Clinic
This clinic, located at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute of Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Center for Vascular Disease employs the latest limb-saving techniques through a multidisciplinary approach. We combine that combines the specialties of vascular surgery, plastic surgery, orthopaedics, endocrinology and rehabilitation medicine to treat conditions and common complications among people living with diabetes and other vascular diseases. Learn more….
- Healthy for You, Healthy for Two
This program helps prevent pregnancy complications due to too much weight gain during pregnancy, including gestational diabetes, Alan Peaceman, MD, and Robert F. Kushner, MD, started a multidisciplinary program called Healthy for You, Healthy for Two. The program focuses on nutrition, exercise, behavior and lifestyle modifications to help women achieve optimal weight gain during pregnancy.