Diabetes

You notice that you have lost weight since few months. You are getting exhausted quiet often, your thirst has increased, and you are urinating frequently. These symptoms suggest that you could be suffering from a condition known as Diabetes mellitus.

Diabetes mellitus is a condition which occurs when glucose in the body is not utilized properly. The pancreas secrete insulin hormone which helps in converting the glucose into energy that is utilized by all the cells of the body. In diabetes, the pancreas is unable to make enough insulin or the body is unable to respond to the insulin made. Hence, the glucose does not get converted into energy, and it accumulates in the blood causing a rise in the blood sugar level.

More about diabetes mellitus & types

Diabetes occurs as different types.

Type 1 Diabetes

The type 1 diabetes occurs most often in children and adolescents, but adults may also have it. In Type 1 diabetes the pancreas produce very little or no insulin at all. Insulin injection has to be taken regularly throughout life. It is caused due to autoimmune problems, viral infections or genetic reasons.

Type 2 Diabetes

The type 2 Diabetes is the more common form of diabetes that occurs in adults. In this condition, either the pancreas is unable to make enough insulin or the cells of the body become unresponsive to insulin. As a result, the blood glucose levels become high. This condition is on the rise nowadays due to obesity problems. It is reported to be found commonly in Asian Americans, African Americans, North Americans, Latinos, Pacific islanders and native Hawaiians.

Pre diabetes

Pre diabetes is a state where your blood sugar levels are slightly above normal, and it is going towards becoming a Type 2 diabetes condition. You are considered to be a pre diabetic if your blood sugar level is above 100mg/DL and below 126mg/DL. It is estimated that around 57 million people in the United States are in the pre diabetic condition. Damaging effect on circulatory system and heart would have already started during this condition. You can reverse the process in this stage by eating healthy, and making healthy changes in your lifestyle.

Gestational Diabetes

The diabetes that occurs during pregnancy in women, who were previously non-diabetic, is called Gestational diabetes. It disappears after the birth of a child but there is a risk of the women developing Type 2 diabetes after a few years. The high sugar levels that develop during gestational diabetes may affect the health of the baby. Proper monitoring of the sugar levels is essential. By exercising regularly and healthy eating, women who had gestational diabetes can avoid getting type 2 diabetes in the future.

Diabetes in Youth

According to research funded by the Centre for disease Control and prevention, an estimated 15,000 youth have been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the United states between 2002-2003.Every year around 3,700 youth are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The cases of Type 1 diabetes are more common in non Hispanic white youth. Individuals younger than 10 years have rarely been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms of Diabetes

The most commonly occurring symptoms of diabetes are:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased appetite despite eating adequately
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing infections or wounds
  • Frequent infection of the skin, gums, vagina or urinary bladder
  • Constant itching of the body

If you have diabetes and treatment not started yet, you may experience some or all of the symptoms. Some patients do not have any symptoms at all, though they have diabetes. So, if you do not have symptoms, it does not mean that you do not have diabetes. If you are an overweight adult with a positive answer to one or more of the following, then, do not wait until you become 45yrs to test yourself.

An inactive lifestyle, having a parent, brother or sister with diabetes, high blood pressure, and female who gave birth to a big baby or had diabetes during pregnancy-if you have one of these and along with it overweight, the chances of you developing diabetes at an early age is high. Even if the results of the test are abnormal, continue checking once in every three years.

Diagnosis

Diabetes can be diagnosed with any one of the following blood tests:

  • Fasting blood glucose test
  • Oral glucose tolerance test
  • Random blood glucose test

Diabetes- Pros and Cons

You may have increased risk of developing diabetes if you are obese, of age above 45 years, have a positive family history, belong to ethnic races like African American, Hispanic American, Native American and Pacific Islander, have a history of gestational diabetes, have heart disease, polycystic ovary disease, and have a previous history of impaired glucose tolerance.

Diabetes causes serious health complications if not monitored. It affects all parts of the body. Diabetes causes heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage, amputations, stroke, complicated pregnancy, birth defects in children born of women with diabetes, increase in dental cavities and ulcerations on legs.

Here is the treatment of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes can be managed by making healthy changes in your life, and working closely with your health care team. It is important that you make healthy choices in your food. Healthy diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, skimmed milk, low fat dairy products, beans, lean meat, and fish. Your food should have less of salt and fat. Include fiber rich products like pasta, rice, crackers, breads, and cereals in your diet.

Make it a habit to exercise regularly for 30 minutes per day. This helps in checking unhealthy weight gain. Try to avoid stressful situations as they tend to increase blood sugar levels. Deep breathing is a good relaxation technique to counter stress.

Avoid smoking as it aggravates blood pressure. Visit your dentist for regular dental checkups as high sugar level has been reported to cause dental caries. If you find any changes in your vision, inform your doctor about it. If there are any sores, blisters, cuts and swelling you need to consult your doctor immediately.

Ask your doctor if you need to take aspirin or carry any emergency tablet since diabetics have a chance of getting a heart attack. Talk to your health care team regarding regular blood sugar testing and blood pressure checkups.

There are three check points for diabetes- commonly called as ABC.

  • The A of diabetes stands for The A1C test which shows the blood sugar level in last 3 months. The A1C reading for a diabetic should be below 7.
  • The B of diabetes stands for blood pressure that has to be around 120/80.
  • The C of diabetes stands for Cholesterol.

The LDL or bad cholesterol value should be less than 100 while the HDL or good cholesterol value should be more than 40. A report regarding your ABC should be maintained by you for careful monitoring of your condition with the help of your health care team.

Eye Care

As you know, diabetes if not managed properly, can result in serious health complications. Therefore, having an eye check-up every year can help prevent serious future problems. If you already facing problems like blurred vision, flashing spots etc consult your doctor immediately.

Eye damage can be cured by a simple laser surgery which slows down the eye damage. About 95% of diabetic eye problems can be avoided by proper care and regular check-up. Many researchers suggest that controlling blood pressure and cholesterol also slows down the progression of vision damage.

Care of kidneys

Kidney is a vital organ playing a vital function of filtering the excess fluid from the body. In case of high blood glucose this function of kidney is hindered and ultimately it stops functioning, a condition called kidney failure. In order to avert kidney complications make sure that you have the following test done atleast once a year:

  • Micro-albumin test: Testing urine for proteins
  • Creatinine test: A blood test
  • A1C test
  • Blood pressure and cholesterol test
  • Consult whether you should reduce your protein intake

It is proven that some blood pressure medications also help in preventing kidney damage. Ask your physician whether you can take those tablets. Consult your doctor about consuming very little of high protein foods, quit smoking and keep your blood glucose and blood pressure level near normal.

Foot care in diabetic patients is imperative. Prolonged diabetes can damage the nerve in vital parts of the body. Self-monitor your feet for sores and bruises. Sometime sore might heal but the infection remains and grows inside, if left untreated amputation of the leg is the one way left.

Tips for foot care:

  • First, keep your glucose level close to normal
  • Often check for bruises, sores, infections, bumps, and red spots.
  • Wash your feet with warm water, and then wipe it gently until dry.
  • Apply lotion and wear socks. Never apply lotions in between toes.
  • Cut and clean your toe nails.
  • Never forcefully try to remove a callus (cell growth) or corn with blade or knife. Consult your podiatrist.
  • Careful while wearing shoes, look for sharp cutting edges
  • Always wear slipper or shoes
  • Avoid using heating pad or water bottle on foot.
  • Never walk bare foot.
  • Remind your doctor to check your foot frequently and immediately tell your doctor ay foot problems that you are facing.

Going for regular checkups and following a healthy diet is the best treatment for diabetes. Diabetes can be managed by opting a healthy lifestyle.

Diabetes can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle. To prevent diabetes you must exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, avoid smoking and alcohol, take your medication without fail, control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, check your feet for cuts and bruises, and brush and floss your teeth regularly.