Diabetes is a chronic health condition that interferes with how your body converts food to energy. It occurs when there’s an inadequate supply of insulin or improper utilization.
High blood sugar levels lead to high glucose concentrations, which can damage organs and tissues if left untreated. Living with diabetes isn’t easy, but you can prevent complications by taking good care of yourself.
What are the symptoms?
Diabetes is a group of conditions marked by high glucose levels in the blood. These elevated sugars can lead to complications like kidney disease and nerve damage.
Diabetes occurs when your body can’t utilize glucose properly as energy (fuel). Your pancreas produces insulin, a hormone which helps transport glucose from your blood into cells and regulates blood glucose levels. Insulin also plays an important role in maintaining eye, intestinal, and muscle health.
Diabetics experience symptoms differently depending on the type and how well they are managed. Some may only have one symptom, while others may experience multiple signs and symptoms simultaneously.
Diabetes symptoms include feeling tired, thirsty or hungry a lot; having a fast heartbeat; feeling dizzy or weak; blurred vision; frequent urination; and having high blood pressure.
These symptoms may arise even if you take medications to help control your blood glucose. They could also indicate that you’re not eating enough or haven’t been exercising regularly.
Unintentional weight loss is another sign of diabetes. When your blood glucose levels drop, your body begins burning fat and muscle for energy instead of using stored carbs.
If you have diabetes, it is essential to get regular check-ups to monitor your progress and identify ways to better regulate blood sugar control. These visits may also provide insight into other health conditions which may impact glucose levels.
Additionally, regular check-ups can help you detect problems early. These tests may include blood tests for cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as urine and eye exams to check for signs of eye issues like cataracts or glaucoma.
Your doctor will also check for other conditions that could be contributing factors to diabetes, such as vitamin deficiency, gum disease or bone disease. These issues can make managing your condition more challenging and raise the chance of developing complications.
Ketoacidosis, or ketoacedia, can occur if your body uses fat for energy instead of glucose. Ketones can build up in your bloodstream if this occurs.
What are the complications?
Living with diabetes can be a challange, both physically and mentally. If you feel overwhelmed or worried, reach out to your healthcare team for support in managing the disease and its complications.
Managing diabetes requires commitment, planning and the will to make changes. You need to prioritize monitoring your condition, taking medication and exercising. Furthermore, building a relationship with your healthcare team so you can receive assistance if ever necessary is essential for successful management of this condition.
People living with diabetes typically require medication and a healthy diet to regulate their blood sugar levels. In some cases, they may even require insulin injections to help the body properly utilize sugar.
Some medications can be taken orally (by mouth) or injected into a muscle or vein. Examples include insulin, which is an hormone, and metformin.
Diabetics with high glucose levels in their blood may suffer nerve damage, leading to pain and difficulty moving arms, legs or other parts of their bodies. Furthermore, this makes it harder for their immune systems to fight off infections.
Complications can strike at any age, but are especially prevalent among those living with type 2 diabetes. These individuals tend to be overweight or obese and produce less insulin than healthy controls due to having less of the hormone present than those without diabetes do.
Many times, people with this condition do not exhibit any symptoms at first. It is possible that they won’t become aware of their condition until years after being diagnosed.
Diabetes has no cure, but you can extend your life expectancy with it by managing your blood sugar, eating nutritiously and exercising regularly.
It is essential to visit your GP and diabetes team regularly so they can monitor your condition. Early detection of problems reduces the chance of developing chronic complications that could lead to other health issues like heart and kidney disease, vision damage or foot issues.
Every year, it’s important to consult a diabetes expert or your primary care doctor about making sure you’re on track with managing your condition and aware of potential hazards. Test for high cholesterol, blood pressure and weight; additionally, inspect your eyes, mouth, throat, stomach and kidneys for signs of damage or infection.
What are the treatment options?
Living with diabetes can be a burden, but there are numerous treatments to help manage it. These may include dietary modifications, exercise regimens, medications and other approaches.
The initial step in treatment is to consult a healthcare professional to identify the most suitable treatment for you. This decision will depend on your condition, lifestyle factors and more.
For people living with type 2 diabetes, the initial step is to adopt a nutritious diet and regular exercise routine. Your healthcare provider may also suggest medication to help regulate your blood glucose levels and minimize the potential long-term risks.
Diabetes treatment options include over 40 medications. Each drug offers its own advantages and can be combined with others for the best possible result – your doctor will suggest the most beneficial combination for you.
Metformin (Glucophage) is typically the first drug doctors will recommend for those living with type 2 diabetes. It works by increasing sensitivity to insulin, helping the body use it more efficiently and regulate blood glucose levels more accurately. Furthermore, metformin may suppress appetite as well, which could be particularly useful to those who are overweight.
Other commonly prescribed medicines include SGLT2 inhibitors, which aid the body in eliminating sugar through urine; and DPP-4 inhibitors, which decrease insulin production from your pancreas. Together these drugs may lower your risk for heart disease and stroke by decreasing sugar absorption from your system.
Your doctor may prescribe blood pressure medication to protect kidney damage and aspirin and cholesterol medications to combat heart disease. Furthermore, if you’re pregnant, an obstetrician must monitor you for gestational diabetes.
Women who are overweight or obese may benefit from bariatric surgery as an integral part of their diabetes treatment plan. Not only will you shed pounds, but it may also enable you to discontinue taking certain diabetes medications altogether.
Diabetes has no cure, but many people who manage their condition well can lead long and healthy lives. If your family history of diabetes runs in your family, it’s important to get tested and consult your doctor about the best course of action for you.
What are the long-term complications?
Living with diabetes brings with it a variety of long-term issues, some serious or life-threatening. Some are caused by uncontrolled high blood sugars (hyperglycemia), while others can arise at any time (acute complications).
Fortunately, most long-term complications from diabetes can be avoided with proper management. Keeping your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels within recommended ranges and maintaining a healthy weight will significantly reduce the likelihood of developing these issues.
Some of these complications can be avoided by taking medications or supplements to regulate your blood sugar levels, exercising regularly and abstaining from alcohol. Even if you are managing your diabetes well, it’s essential to stay on top of routine screenings for diabetes.
Diabetes often results in damage to large and small blood vessels, which could result in heart attack or stroke. It also affects eyes, kidneys, nerves and feet. To reduce your risk for these problems occurring, keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose within recommended ranges as well as limit alcohol consumption.
Inflammation can take place throughout the body, causing pain and swelling of the skin, joints or kidneys. If you observe any symptoms associated with inflammation, be sure to inform your doctor.
The kidneys possess millions of tiny blood vessel clusters (glomeruli) that filter waste from your blood. When diabetes damages these glomeruli, however, your kidneys become less effective at eliminating excess salt and waste from your system.
Protein deposits in your urine may lead to sickness. In some cases, this could be a sign of kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy).
Ketones can also form in your bloodstream from the breakdown of fat, and can provide energy in certain circumstances such as when you haven’t eaten for some time or your kidneys aren’t functioning optimally.
Diabetics are particularly vulnerable to developing infections and illnesses, particularly if they have high blood pressure or poor heart health. These can be severe and result in hospitalisation, limb amputation or death.