Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects more than 25 percent of people who are 65 years and older, so chances are high that some of you here have the disease or at least know someone with it. Diabetes is characterized by having too much glucose, or sugar, in the blood. Some sugar in the blood is okay, but too much sugar is dangerous.
Our bodies get glucose – or sugar – primarily from the foods we eat. If our body works the way it should, glucose moves from our bloodstream into our cells where it is converted into energy. Insulin is a hormone that helps facilitate this process. Unfortunately, our body doesn’t always work the way we want it to. Diabetes sets in when we don’t make enough insulin or the insulin doesn’t work the way it should, and too much sugar stays in the blood.
Diabetes can cause serious damage to the body if not managed properly, contributing to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, and amputation. In fact, nearly 30 million people who have diabetes as a primary condition need emergency care, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It’s a disease that requires a tremendous amount of monitoring and self-care.
Angels Care Home Health, serving Topeka and the surrounding areas, provides the following tips on how to prevent the disease, as well as some management strategies if you already have diabetes so that you can take control of it, avoid emergency care, and enjoy an active, independent lifestyle.
Two Main Types of Diabetes
TYPE 1 – The body does not make insulin (insulin helps the body convert sugar to energy).
Those diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes must take insulin daily to live. It develops most often in children and young adults but can appear at any age.
Symptoms may include:
- Increased thirst and urination
- Constant hunger
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Extreme fatigue
IMPORTANT NOTE: If not diagnosed and treated with insulin, a person with Type 1 Diabetes can lapse into a life-threatening diabetic coma. We have no control over this type of diabetes. Talk with your health care provider right away about any concerns you may have regarding Diabetes.
TYPE 2 – The body does not make or use insulin well (more common type).
When type 2 Diabetes is diagnosed, the pancreas is usually producing enough insulin, but for unknown reasons the body cannot use the insulin effectively, a condition called insulin resistance. After several years, insulin production decreases. The result is the same as for Type 1 Diabetes—glucose builds up in the blood and the body cannot make efficient use of it.
Type 2 Diabetes is most associated with older age, obesity, family history of Diabetes, previous history of gestational Diabetes, physical inactivity and certain ethnicities. About 80 percent of people with Type 2 Diabetes are overweight or obese, reports National Institutes of Health.
Symptoms may include (similar to Type 1, but they develop gradually):
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst and hunger
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Slow healing of wounds or sores
Often by making healthier lifestyle choices, such as losing weight or exercising or eating healthier foods, we can keep the disease from worsening and damaging our bodies.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you feel you may have some symptoms of diabetes, contact your health care provider right away. A simple blood test can confirm a diagnosis.
Prevention and Management Tips
The good news is that you can do a lot to prevent or delay diabetes. The key is to make gradual lifestyle changes.
- Exercise. Choose an activity you enjoy (such as walking or swimming) and do it for about 30 minutes a day most days of the week. Check with your health care provider before starting an exercise program.
- Eat healthy. Load up on fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy sources, and lean protein. Incorporate more fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds into your diet and experiment with seasonings such as cinnamon.
- Lose weight if needed. Just a 5 percent weight loss is proven to help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
- Stay on top of your regular screenings, including eye exams. Know your blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI.
- Take medications for diabetes and other chronic conditions as prescribed by your health care provider.
- Quit smoking. It increases your risk of diabetes and makes it more difficult to manage the disease if you have it.
Whether you are looking for strategies to prevent diabetes or to manage the disease, Angels Care urges you to adopt some healthy lifestyle changes today. Through education, you have the power to take control of your health. When you make positive choices for your health, you give yourself the tools to manage your disease, prevent complications, and have a better quality of life.
Contact the Angels Care Home Health office in Topeka at 785-273-3560 or visit Wangelscarehealth.com for more information about its Diabetes Disease Management Program, Community Classroom and Caregiver Support education or the benefits of home health care service. At Angels Care…We Serve Patients.
Angels Care Home Health