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What is Diabetes

Posted by muriam1996@gmail.com on July 11, 2014 at 12:20 AM

What is Diabetes?

 

Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose (or sugar) levels are too high. When we eat food, most of it is turned into glucose which our bodies use for energy. Just like a car uses gasoline for energy, our bodies use glucose. In order for our bodies to use glucose for energy the pancreas must release a hormone called insulin. Insulin allows glucose to move into our cells and be used. With diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin and/or the insulin being produced is not being used by the body properly. In either case the end result is high blood sugar or diabetes.

Individuals with Type 1diabetes have a pancreas that does not produce any insulin, so they must take insulin injections every day.

In Type 2 diabetes the pancreas may not be producing enough insulin and/or the insulin being produced is not working with the cells of the body properly. Another issue with Type 2 diabetes is that the liver may be releasing too much sugar into the blood stream. People with Type 2 diabetes might take no medication, oral medications, or insulin as part of their diabetes management.

Is Type 1 diabetes more serious than Type 2?

No, all forms of diabetes are serious. Diabetes can lead to serious complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and amputations. However, if diabetes is controlled, complications can be reduced or avoided.

How can diabetes be controlled?

There are 7 self-care behaviors for good diabetes management:

Healthy eating

Being active

Monitoring/self-testing

Taking medications

Problem solving

Reducing risks

Healthy coping


What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes develops only during pregnancy. It occurs at about the 24th week of pregnancy. It usually goes away after the delivery, but women who have had gestational diabetes have a 20 to 50 percent chance of developing Type 2 diabetes within 5 to 10 years.

I was told I have borderline diabetes by a doctor a few years ago, what does that mean?

There is no such thing as borderline diabetes. You either have it or you don’t. Diabetes is diagnosed with a blood test:

1. A fasting blood glucose or sugar test measures the sugar in your blood when you have not had anything to eat or drink in the last 8 hours.

[[PASTING TABLES IS NOT SUPPORTED]]

2. A non-fasting test can be done when you have had food or drink recently.

[[PASTING TABLES IS NOT SUPPORTED]]

3. A blood test to measure your average blood sugar over the past three months called the hemoglobin A1c test can also be used to diagnose diabetes.

[[PASTING TABLES IS NOT SUPPORTED]]

If it has been several years since you last had your blood sugar checked, you should visit your doctor and have it checked again. It is recommended that everybody have their blood sugar checked by age 45 and every three years after that.

Does pre-diabetes always develop into Type 2 diabetes?

No, diabetes can be prevented or delayed by making healthy lifestyle changes including:

Weight loss, if you are overweight

Improving nutrition

Increasing physical activity

Are more people being diagnosed with diabetes now than in the past?

Yes, and there are several possible reasons. First, the threshold for diagnosing diabetes was lowered in 1997 by the American Diabetes Association. This was done because research showed that having an even slightly elevated blood sugar can cause damage to both small and large blood vessels. Second, our lifestyles have changed dramatically over the past twenty to thirty years. We are eating larger portions and more processed foods. Also, many Americans do very little physical activity. As a result, there are more overweight and obese people. Being overweight/obese is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes.

Should people with diabetes avoid carbohydrates?

No, people with diabetes should not avoid carbohydrates. Foods containing carbohydrates including starches, fruits, milk and yogurt are part of a healthy meal plan for people with diabetes. These types of foods provide the body with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Portion control with foods containing carbohydrates is important for people with diabetes because if eaten in large amounts, they can raise the blood sugar.

For several years I was able to manage my type 2 diabetes with a healthy meal plan and regular exercise; now my doctor says I need to take oral medications. What did I do wrong?

Nothing. Diabetes is a progressive disease. That means over time your pancreas may produce less insulin or the insulin being produced may not work as well with the cells of the body. This would require a change in your treatment plan.

I’ve had diabetes for 5 years. When I check my blood sugar it is always in the normal range. Do I really need to check everyday? And do I still have diabetes?

Sounds like you are doing a great job managing your diabetes. You definitely need to check your blood sugar daily. As previously stated, diabetes is a progressive disease so you need to check your sugar at least once a day to make sure it is not creeping up on you. Also you need to check daily to see if your present treatment program is working for you. Your doctor uses your daily blood sugar readings to make any changes in your treatment program. Talk to your doctor or diabetes educator about different times to test.

Yes, you still have diabetes. Diabetes is not curable, but it is controllable. You are in control of your diabetes.

Does exercise help control blood sugar?

Regular physical activity can help to control blood sugar levels. It is recommended that you exercise 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Here are some ways to begin increasing your physical activity:

Take a daily walk. Start slow and increase by 1-2 minutes each time.

Walk during part of your lunch break.

Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator.

Park at the back of the parking lot and walk to the building or store.

Walk or bike instead of driving when you can.

Get a pedometer at your local pharmacy or sports store. Set a goal to reach 10,000 steps a day.

Get your whole family involved.

Exercise is not only helpful in lowering blood sugar, it has numerous health benefits including:

Increased strength and endurance

Build healthy bones and muscles

Help with weight control

Prevent heart and circulation problems

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