Are you someone trying to overcome the ailments caused by Diabetes or looking for a complete detail on the disease?
Well, Diabetes is not an easy thing to confront. The 2008 diabetic statistics of the United States shows more than 24 million reported cased of diabetes, around 6 million unreported cases and around 57 million cased of pre-diabetes. The number is sure to have increased in the last 2 years and is still rising, making it one of the main reasons of death in the whole of United States.
Diabetes or Diabetes Mellitus is a condition wherein a person’s body is unable to regulate the glucose level in blood. These glucose levels are controlled by a hormone called insulin. The disturbances in the level of insulin lead to increase in glucose levels in blood, resulting in Diabetes mellitus.
Symptoms of Diabetes
Diabetes mellitus is often confused with Diabetes Insipidus, a rare condition, since both have very similar symptoms. It occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells of the body do not respond to the insulin produced, resulting in high blood sugar. People with diabetic ailments, commonly complain of the following symptoms of diabetes:
- frequent urination
- extreme thirst and hunger
- fatigue or unusual tiredness
- weight loss
- deep breathing
- itchy skin
- sores that take time to heal
- abdominal pain
- blurred vision
- numbness of hands or feet
- frequent skin, gum or vaginal yeast infections
Apart from those diabetes symptoms, skin rashes or diabetes dermadromes can also occur. Based on these symptoms, diabetes has been classified into mainly three types; Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational diabetes.
Diabetes Type 1
The Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreatic beta cells are lost and the body either stops producing insulin or produces too little of it. Around 10% of the total cases of diabetes in the United States comprise of type 1 diabetes. This typically affects children or adults and is otherwise called juvenile diabetes. It can occur in older people too due to the destruction of pancreas as a result of alcoholism or its removal by surgery. Type 1 diabetes patients require daily insulin intake for sustenance.
Diabetes Type 2
In Type 2 diabetes, even though the pancreas secretes insulin, the cells in the body are resistant to its effects. Thus, the insulin is partly or completely ignored. This condition is often termed as insulin resistance. During such a condition, the body tries to secrete more and more insulin mistaking there is lack of insulin in the body. Gradually the higher demands of insulin are not met and the pancreas struggles to produce more insulin, resulting in type 2 diabetes. Around 90% of the diabetic cases in the United States are Type 2.
During the initial stages, the patient experiences insulin sensitivity. At this stage, a variety of measures and medications can be taken to improve the insulin sensitivity or reduce the glucose production by the liver. As the disease advances, the insulin secretion fails and so, a therapeutic replacement of insulin may become inevitable in some patients.
Gestational Diabetes Mellitus or GDM occurs as a result of relatively insufficient insulin production and responsiveness and hence resembles the Type 2 diabetes. It occurs in 2-5% of pregnant women and may disappear or improve after delivery. About 20%-50% of the women who encounter gestational diabetes during pregnancy, and who deliver babies weighing more than 9 pounds, are likely to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life, than other women. regarding the symptoms, while there are slightly different cases for each individual, we can say that they are similar to common symptoms of diabetes.
Now, let us discuss the key factor resulting in diabetes.
Blood Sugar Level
Blood sugar level or plasma glucose level is the amount of glucose present in blood. Glucose, as you know, is the key factor in generating energy in our bodies, to perform the day-to-day chores. Glucose is carried to the cells in the body, through the bloodstream and is regulated by several hormones like Insulin, primarily produced in the pancreas.
The ideal blood glucose level in the humans has to be:
- 70-100 mg/dl before meals
- less than 140 mg/dl, 90 minutes after a meal
- around 140 mg/dl at bedtime
This level fluctuates throughout the day and is the lowest in the mornings before the first meal of the day. However blood sugar levels outside the normal range is not good. A higher range indicates Diabetes.
How to lower blood sugar
Certain drugs and the intake of alcohol can increase or lower your blood sugar level. Even with extreme control of diabetes, the blood sugar level might drift at times. However blood sugar level can be controlled by regular exercising, maintaining a balanced diet, avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol or soft drinks, and drinking plenty of water.
Keep in mind that the drugs you use to control diabetes do not aggravate the sugar content in the blood. Always use drugs or medication prescribed by your physician. Have your blood sugar levels checked periodically with the help of a physician or using blood glucose monitors or glucose meters available in the drug stores across the country. This way you can keep a control on your blood sugar level.
Treatment for Diabetes
As symptoms of diabetes tend to show up much later than the condition occurs in your body, it is advisable to have your blood sugar levels diagnosed periodically.
Even if there are natural remedies that have been developed for the treatment for diabetes, insulin injections and implantable insulin pumps are the most sought out ones. Type 1 diabetes can be treated with exercise, insulin and a balanced diet. Type 2 diabetes is first treated with weight reduction, a diabetic diet and exercise. Weight reduction and exercising increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin, thus controlling blood sugar elevations.
When these methods fail to lower the blood sugar levels, oral medications are used. If oral diabetes medications are insufficient and do not help lower the glucose levels in blood, insulin treatment is used.
Even though there are many different medications available for treating diabetes, Insulin is the primary medication used to cure Type 1 Diabetes. Commonly used medications are DPP-4 inhibitors like Januvia, Incretin Mimetics like Byetta, and Antihyperglycemic Synthetic Analogs like Symlin. There are still the oldies in the market which are good at controlling diabetes.
A test for diabetes has to be carried out in the morning, while on empty stomach. Anything between 70-99 mg/dl is normal and a result higher than 126 mg/dl indicates diabetes. A result between 100-125 mg/dl indicates pre-diabetes.
Blood glucose level can be checked at home using a blood sugar checking kit or a glucose meter. The kit contains a measuring device and a strip. To check your blood sugar level, use a sterile finger lancet to prick your finger, put one drop of blood on the strip and place the strip carefully into the measuring device. The monitor shows the blood sugar count after 30 seconds.
Balanced diabetic diet plays a vital role in controlling diabetes. Avoid junk food as it contains lots of fat building materials and the sugar content in such foods will always be high. Always maintain a balanced diabetes diet, increasing the intake of low-glycemic foods. Such foods include fruits such as apples, oranges and pears; grains like oatmeal, barley, peanuts and granola; and vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, green leafy vegetables, beans and peas.
A balanced diet low in fat, carbohydrates and cholesterol is ideal for diabetes. High-glycemic foods like potatoes, pasta and white bread which are rich in carbohydrates, must be avoided, as they easily enter the bloodstream and get converted to glucose very fast. For the required carbohydrates intake, diabetic patients can depend on foods like chicken, turkey and sea foods which are low in starch. Salads are a good way to get the required vitamins.
Try eating 4-5 small meals a day than three large meals and drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to flush out those harmful toxins from your body and to keep your body healthy.
One thing that haunts you if you have diabetes must be eating the same food almost every day. Surprisingly, there are lots of healthy and nutritious diabetic recipes that you can try out to make the most out of the foods you are allowed to have. This not only saves you from your boring food habits, but also keeps you fit and healthy by controlling the blood glucose levels. Oral drugs and insulin is of no use if you are unwilling to change food habits.
Exercising regularly can help regulate the blood sugar levels and lose weight. A heavy workout is not necessary and a walk or a moderate workout of 30 minutes would do. People who are under oral medications and insulin therapy must check their blood glucose levels before and after exercising. While doing heavy workouts, check the sugar level every 15 minutes. Also, if the sugar level becomes low during the exercise session, take a light snack to compensate for it. Use fruits or salads instead of snacks.
People with Type 1 diabetes must measure their blood sugar levels every day before meals. Those having Type 2 diabetes and on insulin treatment must measure the glucose levels every morning before meals, to check the amount of insulin required overnight. Also fatty foods and adhere to strict diabetes diet to avoid further complications.
Type 2 Diabetes Diet
Diabetes is controlled by many factors and diet plays the key role. As even a small change in diet can affect the blood sugar levels, eating consistent amount of food on time and taking regular medication can greatly improve the condition of Type 2 diabetes patients and decrease the risk of further complications such as kidney failure. Consult your physician and dietician to create a food plan tailored to your diabetic needs.
Those who take intensive insulin and oral medications such as sulfonylurea or meglitinides are likely to develop low blood sugar complications, once they skip or delay a meal. And those who take insulin injections and oral medications like metformin have more flexibility with their diet and that delaying a meal is not risky for them.
On the flip side, weight gain is a risk factor and side effect while taking intensive insulin treatments and medication. Care has to be taken to make sure the weight gain does not go beyond 2-3 pounds.
Eat a lot of fiber rich foods, as fiber delays sugar absorption, thus controlling the blood sugar. It also prevents constipation and intestinal disorders.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole wheat breads, cereals and crackers, brown rice, cooked beans and peas.
As the risk of developing heart diseases are high among Type 2 diabetes patients, fatty food have to be reduced or avoided, especially those with less trans and saturated fats. Low fat or non-fat dairy products are ideal. Lean meat products like chicken, fish and lean red meats can be grilled, baked, boiled or roasted to eat, than frying. Low fat vegetable oils are ideal for cooking.
As Type 2 diabetes also increases the risk of high blood pressure, high levels of salt is risky. Hence, the sodium intake has to be reduced or avoided. Your dietitian or regular physician can guide you through picking the right diet.
Drinking moderate amount of alcohol along with food is not harmful, even though alcohol consumption increases blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels lead to conditions like breathlessness and extreme low sugar levels lead to unconsciousness.
Being one of the primary reasons for adult blindness and amputations, diabetes is becoming a threat to human life. People with diabetes are more likely to develop cardio-vascular diseases, kidney failures and stroke. Obesity or overweight, lack of exercise, stress and family history are factors likely to induce the occurrence of diabetes.
If you believe you have one or more of the risk factors of developing diabetes, get yourself tested today for diabetes. Even though diabetes is not curable completely, it can be controlled. Consult your doctor to check how often you should be tested for diabetes, the diet, and the changes to make in your life style to control diabetes.