Diabetes is a relatively common bane that impacts millions of people. A person is said to be diabetic if his or her ability to create and/or respond to insulin is impaired. This means the body cannot process food for energy in the normal way that it should. The body’s lack of insulin or the misuse of it causes an elevated glucose level and an abnormal metabolism of carbs. This article will discuss Diabetes as well as how to spot the symptoms of diabetes and ways to support healthy living with diabetes.
TYPES OF DIABETES
Diabetes is typically divided into two types: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is sometimes called insulin-dependent, and it can also be referred to as juvenile onset diabetes. This form of the disease can develop at any age. However, in most cases it presents itself before a person has reached adulthood. Type 1 is the least common of the two types, as it accounts for only about 5% to 10% of total diagnosed cases.
Some risk factors for type 1 diabetes are genetics and family history. For instance, a person who has a parent or a sibling with the disease is slightly more likely to develop it. Some research also shows that autoimmune factors can lead to the development of type 1 diabetes.
SOME AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES THAT CAN POTENTIALLY INCREASE THE RISK OF DIABETES ARE AS FOLLOWS
- Thyroid disease
- Addison’s disease
- Celiac disease
Type 2 diabetes is also known as non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes. Most diabetics have type 2. In fact, estimates show that about 90% of diabetes cases are classified as type 2.
SOME RISK FACTORS FOR TYPE 2 ARE AS FOLLOWS
- Advanced age
- History of gestational diabetes
- Family history of diabetes
- Impaired tolerance for glucose
- Lack of regular physical exercise
In addition to the above risk factors, certain races and ethnicities are more likely to develop diabetes. If you are black American, Latin American, Native American, or Asian American, you might be slightly more likely to develop type two diabetes.
In a small percentage of pregnancy cases, a woman will develop diabetes. This form of the disease is called gestational diabetes, and it typically goes away at the end of the pregnancy. However, in some cases, a woman who develops gestational diabetes goes on to develop diabetes later in life. Gestational diabetes tends to occur more frequently in Hispanics, blacks, Asians and American Indians. It is also more likely to appear in those who have a family history of diabetes.
In a very small percentage of cases, people get diabetes as a result of an infection, a surgery or a genetic disorder. Malnutrition also accounts for a small percentage of cases.
SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES
For some diabetics, the warning signs may be mild and almost unnoticeable. In fact, some diabetics don’t know they have the disease until they are treated for another health concern. This is especially the case for many type 2 diabetics.
However, with type 1 diabetes, symptoms tend to be more severe and they may happen suddenly and unexpectedly.
SOME SIGNS OF DIABETES TO LOOK FOR ARE AS FOLLOWS
- Frequent urination
- Fatigue or weakness
- Blurry vision
- Dry mouth
- Itchy skin
- Sores and cuts that are slow to heal
- Yeast infections
- Numbness in feet or legs
- Pain in feet or legs
The above symptoms most frequently occur at the early onset of the disease and are especially prevalent in type 2 diabetics. Type 1 diabetics might also experience some unexplained weight loss. This weight loss may occur even in those who have not changed their exercise or eating habits. The weight loss is a result of the body not getting enough energy from food. Thus, the body burns fat and muscle, which results in the weight loss.
Type 1 diabetics are also susceptible to both vomiting and nausea. This is caused by the body’s process of burning fat. When fat is burned, a diabetic can develop ketones. Ketones are chemicals made in the human liver. Everyone has them. However, in diabetics, when too many ketones are produced, the body cannot use them for fuel in the way they are supposed to. This results in a diabetic feeling nauseated and also vomiting. In the worst case scenario, too many ketones can be fatal.
A person’s ketone level can be monitored at home using either a blood test or a urine test. These testing devices are available for purchase over-the-counter. Both tests can, of course, also be given at a doctor’s office. A patient should check his or her ketone level when pregnant and also when feeling physically injured or sick. A blood sugar level above 250 mg/dl also indicates that a person might have a high level of ketones, and thus the ketone level should be checked regularly.
HOW TO COMBAT PREDIABETES
A person is said to have prediabetes if he or she has elevated glucose levels and is at a great risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Typically, a physician will help a patient manage their prediabetes by cutting most simple sugars from his or her dietary plan. To learn more about statins and diabetes, a patient should direct questions to their doctor or other healthcare provider. This is especially important because two diabetics might have slightly different health concerns and treatment plans. What works for one patient may not work for another.
RISK FACTORS FOR PREDIABETES ARE AS FOLLOWS
- Being overweight
- Advanced age (over 45 years old)
- Family history (a sibling or parent already has the disease)
- Do not exercise regularly (Most experts suggest exercising at least three times weekly, if possible)
- Have birthed a baby larger than nine pounds
- Have ever developed gestational diabetes
- If you are black, Latino, Asian or Native American
It is possible to reverse prediabetes or outright prevent it with some basic lifestyle changes. For instance, an overweight person could lose weight by changing eating habits and exercising regularly. Most physicians can recommend steps a patient can take to lose weight and eat healthier.
In most cases type 1 diabetes is treated with injections of insulin. Type 1 diabetics should also monitor the amounts of carbs and sugars they consume and also check their blood sugar frequently. Type 2 diabetics should also monitor their blood sugar readings and take either insulin or oral medications or sometimes both.
A physician can help a patient develop an individual and personalized care plan that involves both a dietary plan and an exercise regimen. Some family doctors will recommend that a diabetic be treated by a specialist who has handled many diabetes cases. A doctor or specialist can also inform the patient of their target glucose reading range. That way, when the patient consistently tests above that range, the patient knows to contact the doctor.
Diabetics usually check their own blood sugar at home. Some may even be required to check their reading multiple times per day, especially if the patient takes insulin. In fact, careful blood glucose monitoring is the best and most efficient way to ensure the reading stays within a healthy range.
In addition to checking blood glucose levels, daily insulin injections are required for many diabetics. Several specific kinds of insulin are available for use. Patients may use long-acting insulin, rapid-acting or intermediate insulin. Some patients use a variety of different types, and this depends on their needs and the doctor’s specific instructions.
Insulin tablets are ineffective because swallowing insulin orally would enable stomach acids to weaken the effects of the insulin. Most often, diabetics inject insulin using a small needle or insulin pen. Insulin pumps are now available, too. The pump is a small device worn outside the patient’s body. It can fit in a pocket or on a belt and is about the size of a cellular phone. A small tube connects a catheter under the skin to a small reservoir of insulin.
One other option is the tubeless pump, which dispenses a certain amount of insulin. The specific amount is programmed into the pump. However, the amount can be adjusted to pump less or more insulin, depending upon physical activities performed, the recent meals consumed and the current blood sugar reading.
In addition to insulin injections, some diabetics must also take oral medications. These medicines stimulate the patient’s pancreas so that it creates and releases more insulin. Other drugs prescribed for diabetics block processes in the stomach and intestines that break down carbs. Some other oral meds block the production of glucose from the liver. As a result, a person needs less insulin to move the sugars into the body’s cells.
A pancreas transplant is an option for some patients, though these risky surgeries are not often recommended. As with any organ transplant, there are many risks involved. For instance, if a patient undergoes transplant surgery, he or she must also take many drugs in attempt to ensure the body does not reject the organ. The downside is that the drugs have many serious side effects. The risks and side effects are so severe that in most cases physicians don’t recommend transplants. However, in successful transplant cases, the patient no longer requires insulin therapy.
Some diabetics undergo stomach surgery to reduce their body weight. Some patients see a significant improvement in blood sugar readings after the surgery. However, more research and studies must be conducted to draw a conclusion on the long-term effects and benefits of gastric bypass as a viable treatment for diabetes.
WHEN TO CONTACT A DOCTOR
When a person experiences debilitating symptoms from their diabetes and are unable to control their blood sugar at home, he or she should contact a physician.
SOME REASONS OR CONDITIONS FOR WHICH A PATIENT SHOULD SEEK EMERGENCY CARE ARE AS FOLLOWS
- Hyperglycemia, especially if persistent, or if blood sugar is excessively high
- Hypoglycemia, especially if persistent, or if blood sugar is excessively low
- High ketones count in urine
- Warning signs for a diabetic coma
A person is said to be suffering from low blood sugar when his or her blood sugar falls below his or her targeted range set by a physician. Low blood sugar is also referred to as hypoglycemia. Blood sugar may drop for several different reasons. For instance, people who take medication to control blood sugar may notice a drop in their glucose level when they skip a meal or exercise more than usual. Taking the wrong dosage of insulin or another diabetes-specific medication can also impact blood glucose levels.
To prevent blood sugar from getting too low, the patient should monitor blood sugar levels daily or as often as directed by a physician.
SIGNS THAT INDICATE ABNORMALLY LOW BLOOD SUGAR ARE AS FOLLOWS
- Shaky feeling
- Weak and fatigued feeling
- Losing consciousness
- Heart palpitations
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
- Drowsy feeling
Low blood sugar can be treated at home by consuming carbs. Glucose tablets or fruit juice can typically bring blood sugar levels up. However, in cases where blood sugar cannot be controlled at home, or when a patient consistently shows low blood sugar readings, the patient should contact a physician.
A patient is said to be suffering from hyperglycemia when the blood sugar level has risen dangerously high. This condition can be caused by many factors, including failure to take medications and insulin, eating too much or not following dietary guidelines. Sickness or infection can also impact blood sugar levels. To combat hyperglycemia, the patient should check sugar levels as often as recommended by a physician.
THE PATIENT SHOULD ALSO BEWARE OF THE FOLLOWING HYPERGLYCEMIA SIGNS
- Dry mouth
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Fatigue and weakness
- Nauseated feeling
- Blurry vision
Those with hyperglycemia should contact a doctor immediately for further instructions. Ambulatory care is required if the patient is unable to bring down their blood sugar with diet or medication. Ambulatory care is especially important if hyperglycemia persists over time.
A diabetic coma is a life-threatening condition that occurs most commonly in type 2 diabetics, though it could occur in either type. These comas typically occur in patients who have a blood sugar reading higher than 600 mg/dl. A person is said to be in a diabetic coma when he or she becomes severely dehydrated as a result of high blood sugar.
Diabetic comas have many warning signs, such as extreme thirst combined with a parched mouth and dry skin that does not sweat. A high fever is typically present in the patient along with difficulty with vision, sleepiness, hallucinations and confusion. A patient might also complain of a weak feeling on one side of his or her body.
Because a patient might lose consciousness as a result of diabetes-related health problems, it is important that all diabetics wear an ID bracelet. Such bracelets identify patients as diabetic, and this warns others to call for help when a patient behaves strangely, loses consciousness or cannot make decisions independently. An ID bracelet also alerts medical professionals that the patient has special and specific medical needs.
It is also important that diabetics alert their friends and family of what to do in emergency situations. Family members should be able to recognize signs that a diabetic is in distress. Patients should carry all diabetes medications and insulin with them at all times. It might also be a good idea to carry hard candies, just in case an insulin boost is needed.
ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR MANAGING DIABETES
Diabetics should always be careful in regards to diet and exercise, and this is especially true if a diabetic takes statins. Overall, there are several day-to-day things diabetics should do to live a healthier lifestyle. For starters, all vaccinations must be kept current. This is because high blood sugar often weakens the immune system. The hepatitis B vaccine, the pneumonia vaccine and also the yearly flu shots are recommended for diabetics, though patients should speak with their physicians before taking these shots.
In addition to getting vaccinated, diabetics should also monitor their cholesterol and blood pressure. If a doctor prescribes medications for these issues, the patient should be sure to take all medicines on time as prescribed. Patients with statins and diabetes should seek emergency medical help when experiencing any severe or ongoing issues with blood pressure or blood sugar.
Diabetics should also be mindful of the condition of their feet. Washing and drying feet daily is important. Drying the spaces between the toes is also recommended, especially because diabetics are prone to skin infections and slow-healing cuts and sores. Skin should be checked daily for any sores, blisters, cuts or swelling. A medical consult is imperative for anyone who finds slow-healing cuts on the body.
It is also important that diabetics practice good oral hygiene. Good dental care is important for everyone, but especially for diabetics, and this is because diabetics are more susceptible to gum infections.
A FEW STEPS TO TAKE TO IMPROVE AND MAINTAIN GOOD ORAL HYGIENE ARE AS FOLLOWS
- toothbrush, brushing, oral hygiene
- Brush teeth at least twice daily
- Floss teeth daily
- Schedule regular dental exams
- Call a dentist or dental hygienist when signs of gum infection are present (ie. swollen gums, red gums or bleeding gums)
Smoking and alcohol use can cause harmful complications for diabetics. For instance, smoking increases a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and diabetic smokers with cardiovascular disease are more likely to die from it than nonsmokers. Even smokeless tobacco is harmful for those with cardiovascular disease. Thus, diabetic smokers and smokeless tobacco users should quit their tobacco use.
Alcohol use should also be kept to a minimum, especially because it can impact blood sugar levels. Most experts recommend no more than 1-2 drinks daily. Diabetics who drink should be sure to do so in moderation and only with food, never on an empty stomach.
Stress management is also essential in regards to managing diabetes. This is because hormones in the body of a diabetic can inhibit insulin from working, which results in raised blood sugar levels, and this is especially true for people who endure high levels of stress over time.
Keith E. Barker http://www.lowbloodsugarlevels.com
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