This past November was Diabetes Awareness Month, and for those who are diagnosed, diabetes can affect every decision they make – what to eat, what to do, what to wear — and it can be very confusing to understand how to take care of yourself and your body with diabetes.
So, what is diabetes?
Well, that depends on which type you are talking about. Type I diabetes affects less than 5% of those who have diabetes and can occur at any age. Type I diabetes means that the body does not produce any insulin, the hormone used to get glucose from the bloodstream that is made when carbohydrates are broken down. Type II diabetes, however, is much more common and means that the body has developed a resistance to insulin, causing blood glucose levels to rise higher than normal. At first, the pancreas produces extra insulin in order to make up for the body’s insulin resistance; then, the pancreas begins to not be able to produce enough insulin to keep the body’s blood glucose at normal levels.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
The most common symptoms of diabetes are:
Feeling very thirsty
Feeling very hungry - even though you are eating
Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
Weight loss - even though you are eating more
Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet
However, some patients who develop Type II diabetes have extremely mild symptoms that may go unnoticed. There are many similarities between the symptoms of Type I and Type II diabetes, with those who have one form of diabetes developing symptoms similar to the other form, even though the treatments for each type are very different.
Early detection, treatment, and proper management of diabetes is imperative, as it can decrease the risk of developing complications of diabetes, including glaucoma, cataracts, neuropathy, kidney disease, skin infections, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetic ketoacidosis. is imperative, as it can decrease the risk of developing complications of diabetes, including glaucoma, cataracts, neuropathy, kidney disease, skin infections, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetic ketoacidosis.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when the body produces high levels of blood acids known as ketones that occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin. These ketones are extremely acidic and a buildup of these blood acids can lead to diabetic coma.
What are the treatments for diabetes?
Treatment for diabetes requires one to keep watch over their blood sugar levels with a combination of medications (e.g. insulin), diet, and exercise. A person with diabetes will need to pay close attention to when and what they eat in order to avoid or simply minimize their blood sugars from rapidly changing., which can require a very quick change in the dosage of medication, especially insulin, that is taken. Furthermore, someone with diabetes needs to begin seeing other healthcare professionals in order to address other more specific issues caused by diabetes, including a podiatrist, an ophthalmologist or optometrist, a nutritionist, and an endocrinologist.
It is therefore critical to properly manage blood sugar levels! An individuals Hemoglobin A1c (hbA1c) level which shows your average blood sugar level over a 2-3 month period is important! You want to have hbA1c levels within normal range to limit complications and disease progression.
Most insurance and Medicare will cover continuous glucose monitors (CGM). The new Dexcom CGM has been shown to assist in the management of proper hbA1c levels and to decrease low blood sugar episodes which can be life threatening. This monitor can be used for almost all ages (>2 years old). The monitor has high and low alarms, zero finger sticks needed, and results can be checked and tracked via smartphone.
For more monitor information:
Diabetes is a life-changing illness, but with awareness and accessible information, those who live with this disease can be better equipped to live long and healthy lives.