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Dealing with Diabetes

Diabetes is a Disease
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes is a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. There are two major types of diabetes:

Type 1 - A disease in which the body does not produce any insulin, most often occurring in children and young adults. People with Type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections to stay alive. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5 to 10 percent of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is sometimes called Juvenille Diabetes.

Type 2 - A metabolic disorder resulting from the body's inability to make enough, or properly use, insulin. It is the most common form of the disease. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 to 95 percent of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is nearing epidemic proportions, due to an increased number of older Americans, and a greater prevalence of obesity and sedentary lifestyles. Type 2 diabetes is sometimes called Adult Onset Diabetes.

Diabetes can cause three types of problems:
• High blood sugar
• Low blood sugar
• Complications

The best defense against complications is taking care of your diabetes. Keeping your blood sugar levels near the normal range will make you feel better and it will help you stay healthy in the future.

Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use sugar. Sugar is the basic fuel for the cells in the body, and insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When sugar builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can cause two problems:

  • Right away, your cells may be starved for energy.
  • Over time, high blood sugar levels may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.

Finding out you have diabetes is scary. Diabetes is a serious condition, but people with diabetes can live long, healthy, happy lives by taking good care of themselves.

Insulin - Why Don't I Have Enough?
The pancreas, an organ near your stomach, produces insulin. The pancreas contains cells called beta cells. Beta cells have a vital job – they make insulin, a hormone that helps cells take in the sugar they need.

Sometimes, the beta cells get wiped out and cannot produce insulin anymore.

Many things might have killed your beta cells, but in most people with Type 1 diabetes, the immune system makes a mistake. Cells that normally protect you from germs attack your beta cells instead. Then the beta cells die. Without beta cells, you make no insulin. Sugar builds up in your blood, and you get diabetes.

Taking Care Of Your Diabetes
Many people with Type 1 diabetes live long, healthy lives. The key is keeping your blood sugar levels within your target range, which can be done with meal planning, exercise and insulin. You will also need to check your blood sugar levels regularly by testing your blood. Your health care provider will tell you how often to check your blood sugar level.

Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In Type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use sugar. Sugar is the basic fuel for the cells in the body, and insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can cause two problems:

  • Right away, your cells may be starved for energy.
  • Over time, high blood sugar levels may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.

Is Diabetes Curable?
In people with Type 2 diabetes, glucose (sugar) builds up in the blood. But with treatment, your blood sugar levels may go down to normal again. But this does not mean you are cured. Instead, a blood sugar level in your target range shows that your treatment plan is working and that you are taking care of your diabetes.

Taking Care Of Your Diabetes
The goal of treatment is to lower your blood sugar and improve your body's use of insulin with:

  • Meal planning
  • Exercise
  • Weight loss

Meal planning and getting regular exercise can help your body maintain healthy blood sugar levels. If you're overweight, losing weight can be another big part of your diabetes treatment. It will help your body use insulin better. The best way to lose weight is to exercise and follow a meal plan. With a weight loss meal plan, you will eat fewer calories. Decide with your health care provider how much to lose. Sometimes, just 10 or 20 pounds is enough to bring diabetes under control.

Checking Your Blood Sugar
In addition to eating healthy, losing weight and keeping fit, check your blood sugar levels at home to keep track of how you're doing. To check your blood sugar, you need a drop of blood. Place the drop on a special test strip. A device called a glucose meter measures the amount of sugar in the drop of blood.

Your health care provider will tell you how often to check your blood sugar. Write down each result, along with the time and date. You will soon learn how well your treatment plan is working, and you will learn how exercise and food affects you.

A Back-Up Plan
Sometimes, using a meal plan, losing weight and being active are not enough. In addition, your doctor may have you take diabetes pills, insulin shots or both.

Your doctor will probably have you try diabetes pills first. But sometimes pills don't work. Or they work at first and then stop. When this happens, your doctor may have you take both pills and insulin, or maybe just insulin alone. Your doctor will tell you what kind of insulin to take, how much and when.

Could You Have Diabetes and Not Know It?
Eighteen million Americans have diabetes - and many more don't even know they have it! Take this test to see if you are at risk for having diabetes. Diabetes is more common in African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. If you are a member of one of these ethnic groups, you need to pay special attention to this test.

To find out if you are at risk, write in the points next to each statement that is true for you. If a statement is not true, put a zero. Add your total score and check your results below.

I am under 65 years of age and I get little or no exercise during a usual day.
YES (5 points)
NO (0 points)

I am between 45 and 64 years of age.
YES (5 points)
NO (0 points)

I am 65 years old or older.
YES (9 points)
NO (0 points)

I am a woman who has had a baby weighing more than nine pounds at birth.
YES (1 point)
NO (0 points)

I have a sister or a brother with diabetes.
YES (1 point)
NO (0 points)

I have a parent with diabetes.
YES (1 point)
NO (0 points)

Scoring 3-9 points
You are probably at low risk for having diabetes now. But don't just forget about it - especially if you are Hispanic/Latino, African American, American Indian, Asian American or Pacific Islander. You may be at higher risk in the future. New guidelines recommend everyone age 45 and over consider being tested for the disease every three years. However, people at high risk should consider being tested at a younger age.

Scoring 10 or more points
You are at risk for having diabetes. Only your health care provider can determine if you have diabetes. See your health care provider soon and find out for sure.

Facts You Should Know and Symptoms of Diabetes

  • Diabetes is a serious disease that can lead to blindness, heart disease, strokes, kidney failure and amputations.
  • Diabetes kills more than 193,000 people each year.
  • Diabetes is more common in African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Some people with diabetes have symptoms.

If you have any of the following symptoms, contact your health care provider.

  • extreme thirst
  • frequent urination
  • unexplained weight loss

Ideal Blood Glucose Levels for People With Diabetes

Time

Glucose (mg/dl.)

In the morning, before breakfast

80 to 120

Before meals

80 to 120

2 hours after a meal

Less than 140

At bedtime

120 to 140

At 3:00 a.m.

Over 80

These ranges are based on blood tests you do at home. These may not be the best ranges for you. Talk to your doctor about what your ranges should be.

 

 

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