Diabetes and You
Diabetes mellitus (DM), commonly referred to as diabetes, is a group of metabolic disorders that affect how your body uses glucose, or blood sugar, over a prolonged period. Glucose is vital to health because it’s an important source of energy for muscles and other tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel.
When you have diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or your body doesn’t use insulin properly so sugar stays in your blood. Other cells don’t get enough sugar for fuel, resulting in the body not having enough energy to do its work. Too much sugar in your blood over time can lead to serious health problems. Causes of diabetes vary by type. No matter what type you have, it leads to excess sugar in your blood.
Acute complications can include diabetic ketoacidosis, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state, or death. Serious long-term complications include cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, foot ulcers, and damage to the eyes.
Diabetes symptoms vary on how much your blood sugar is elevated. Some individuals may not experience symptoms initially, especially if they have prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Symptoms tend to come on quickly and be more severe with the onset of Type 1 diabetes.
Symptoms of high blood sugar include:
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst and hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Presence of ketones, a byproduct of muscle and fat breakdown, in urine
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing sores
- Frequent infections
TYPES OF DIABETES
Many different types of diabetes are common.
Type 1 can develop at any age, although it most often develops during childhood or adolescence and results from the pancreas’ failure to produce enough insulin. This form was previously referred to as "insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus" (IDDM) or "juvenile diabetes.”
Type 2 begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin properly. As the disease progresses, a lack of insulin may also develop. This form was previously referred to as "non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus" (NIDDM) or "adult-onset diabetes.” The most common cause is excessive body weight and insufficient exercise.
Gestational diabetes is the third main form and occurs when pregnant women without a previous history of diabetes develop high blood sugar levels. Due to hormonal changes, the pancreas does not make sufficient insulin. After pregnancy, gestational diabetes often goes away, yet some women with gestational diabetes may get diabetes in the future. Women who have had gestational diabetes or have borne children weighing more than nine pounds should have their blood sugar levels checked often.
Secondary diabetes occurs when blood glucose levels occur from treatments for other diseases. Blood glucose can rise due to certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs or steroids. Some anti-rejection drugs used following organ transplantation can also affect blood glucose. Secondary diabetes is usually treated with insulin, a sound nutrition plan and monitoring. It’s often a temporary condition as once you reduce or stop taking the medications, blood glucose may return to normal.
Individuals who are overweight and physically inactive are more likely to develop Type2 diabetes. Additional weight can cause insulin resistance in those with Type 2 diabetes. Extra belly fat is linked to insulin resistance along with heart and blood vessel disease.
Genes and family history are also factors. Some ethnic groups are more prone to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, including:
- African Americans
- Native Americans
- Pacific Islanders
Genetic tendencies that increase an individual’s tendency toward obesity are also a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes.
HOW DIABETES IS DIAGNOSED
Blood glucose tests are the main way to learn if you have diabetes. These tests measure the number of milligrams (mg) of glucose in a deciliter of blood. When a person fasts, the normal glucose level is 70 to 99 mg/dl of blood. After a person eats, normal blood glucose may go higher, but rarely over 200. The American Diabetes Association lists these facts to determine whether someone has diabetes:
- Symptoms of diabetes and a blood glucose level of 200 or higher on a blood glucose test
- A fasting blood glucose level of 126 or higher
- A blood glucose level of 200 or higher after drinking a special sugar solution called a glucose tolerance test
- An HbA1c (A-one C) level of 6.5% or higher
If you have diabetes, you should try to keep your blood glucose level as close to normal as possible. During the day before eating(fasting), good levels should be between 80 to 120. Postprandial( 2 hours after a meal), the goal is <180. The goal for HbA1c is less than 7% for most patients. Based on an article at diabetes.org, "foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber that are good for overall health and may also help prevent diabetes".
Your diabetes management plan should include maintaining a healthy diet, regular physical exercise, a normal body weight and avoiding the use of tobacco. Control of blood pressure and maintaining proper foot care are important for people with the disease. Screening for eye complications annually is also recommended. Type 1 DM must be managed with insulin injections. Type 2 DM may be treated with medications with or without insulin. Weight loss, medical or surgical interventions in those with obesity are sometimes effective measures in those with type 2 DM. Gestational diabetes usually resolves after the birth of the baby.
Dr. Kaur has years of experience in managing diabetes. She is well versed with the latest medications to help control blood sugars, but more than that she will help her patients understand the need for lifestyle modification and weight loss if needed.
Contact Us to schedule a consultation today. We can help you with the lifestyle changes and medications that will put your diabetes under control
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