Understand and Cope With Diabetes

Edited by Lor777, Charmed, Eng, Anonymous

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Modern medical treatment emphasizing healthy living habits has changed the way we look at diabetes, a disease that was once fatal. Diabetes is an imbalance in body chemistry. Normally, the sugars and starches you eat (carbohydrates) are converted by the body into glucose, a sugar, which the body then uses for energy. With diabetes, the body's ability to store and use glucose is impaired.

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Insulin is an important key to the chemical imbalance. Insulin is a hormone produced in a gland called the pancreas, which controls the conversion of blood glucose into fuel for the body. With diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin, or the insulin is blocked from working correctly (insulin resistance). The result in both cases is too much glucose in the blood. This can cause damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and other body organs. The exact cause of diabetes is still unknown. Genetics and autoimmune disease may play a part in juvenile onset diabetes. Weight gain, lack of exercise, and a family history of diabetes are all contributing factors to adult onset diabetes.

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Diabetes Type 1 and Type 2

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There are two types of diabetes (although they have similar symptoms and treatments). With diabetes type 1, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Without insulin, blood sugar rises rapidly, yet the cells are not able to use the sugar. Looking for a new energy source, the cells draw on fat for their needs. When fat is broken down under these conditions, serious medical problems arise. It is most common in young men and boys. Diabetes type 2 is most common among overweight adults, especially women over 40 years of age. About one-third of diabetics of this type have a family member with the disease. Approximately 18% of people over age 65 and 25% over age 85 have diabetes. In type 2, insulin production is reduced, and the insulin production is reduced, and the insulin that is produced by the pancreas is not properly used or absorbed. Blood sugar levels rise. This increase occurs gradually, and the symptoms come on more slowly. The consistently elevated levels of blood sugar are damaging, however, and can lead to a number of severe problems.

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Note Your Symptoms

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Both types of diabetes have similar symptoms. However, the symptoms develop at different speeds, with diabetes type 1 coming on rapidly (usually in childhood) and diabetes type 2 typically developing over a period of years. Almost half of older adults with diabetes don't know they have it. The following are some common symptoms:

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  1. 1
    Frequent urination.
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  2. 2
    Either bladder infections or urinary tract infections.
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  3. 3
    Increased thirst, overeating.
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  4. 4
    Fatigue, low energy.
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  5. 5
    Nausea, vomiting.
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  6. 6
    High blood pressure.
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  7. 7
    Weight loss, most typical in children and young adults.
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  8. 8
    Tingling in the hands and feet.
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  9. 9
    Blurred vision.
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  10. 10
    Lowered resistance to infection.
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  11. 11
    Impotence in men, occasionally.
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  12. 12
    No menstrual periods in premenopausal women, occasionally.
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What You Can Do

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Once diagnosed, individuals with diabetes play a very important role in managing their disease and maintaining good health. It is crucial to follow the doctor's treatment plan. While some individuals can control diabetes with diet and exercise alone, others require a combination of insulin or oral hypoglycemic medications along with a controlled diet and exercise plan. The treatment goal is to maintain acceptable levels of blood glucose in the body throughout the day. Diet and aerobic exercise are the foundation of treatment for adults. As weight is lost, the blood has a remarkable tendency to normalize glucose levels. The goal of any weight loss plan is to limit calories with a nutritionally balanced food selection. A reasonable guideline is to lose one pound a week, which typically means reducing calorie intake by 500 calories per day. Frequent monitoring of progress with a doctor is important. Once acceptable levels of weight and blood sugar are achieved, the risk of heart disease can be further lowered by reducing fat intake to less than 30% of caloric intake and saturated fat to less than 10% of total calories. Exercise, a valuable tool in managing diabetes, helps burn off calories and reduces the appetite. It helps to normalize blood sugar levels and assists the body in combating insulin resistance. Diabetics are at risk of coronary heart disease, and exercise reduces this risk. If you have diabetes, you will want to develop a diet and exercise program that suits your specific health status. People with diabetes may have associated problems that make some forms of exercise more appropriate than others. Heart attack, detached retina, and foot damage are all associated with diabetes and may affect the type of exercise plan that is developed.

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Diabetic Retinopathy

Vision loss is one of the serious complications of diabetes. Seven percent of blindness in the United States is caused by diabetes, but vision loss is not inevitable. With diabetes, high levels of blood glucose may cause blood vessels in the eyes to break, blurring vision. Untreated diabetes can also lead to growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye--further impairing vision. Consistent management of blood sugar and regular visits (at least yearly) to an eye specialist, or ophthalmologist, can help minimize and avoid damage to the eye.

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Hypoglycemia

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Monitoring and controlling blood glucose is crucial to the successful management of diabetes. When glucose drops too low, hypoglycemia occurs. Symptoms include hunger, weakness, dizziness, headache, shakiness and confusion. Hypoglycemia can be triggered by taking too much insulin. Exercising too strenuously, or getting off schedule on a meal plan. If you have symptoms of hypoglycemia, take a quick-acting sugar right away. Hard candy, orange juice, or sugar cubes are good sources. If symptoms don't go away, seek immediate medical care.

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Tips Tricks & Warnings

  • IMPORTANT, consult your doctor before you modify your diet or exercise plan.
  • Cuts, blisters, or sores on the feet may be slot to heal if you have diabetes.
  • Check your feet daily, keep them clean and warm, trim toenails, and wear shoes to help prevent injuries.
  • If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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Article Info

Categories : Physical Health

Recent edits by: Eng, Charmed, Lor777

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