Things to Know About Diabetes
It’s estimated that more than 30 million Americans currently suffer from diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes.
While this potentially life-threatening condition ranks as a leading cause of heart disease, stroke, new cases of adult blindness, and non-injury-related leg and foot amputations, the myths and misconceptions surrounding diabetes often prevent victims from receiving the treatment and assistance they need to avoid complications and live a long, healthy life.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes occurs when blood glucose (aka blood sugar) levels are too high.
Glucose is the body’s main source of energy and generally comes from food. Blood sugar is regulated by insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas.
People with diabetes either don’t produce enough insulin or are unable to use it effectively. Without appropriate treatment, their blood glucose levels will become dangerously high.
There are 3 Forms of Diabetes
There are actually three forms of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational.
Type 1 Diabetes
People with Type 1 diabetes lack insulin because of their immune system attacks and destroys pancreatic cells that produce the hormone. While Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, it’s most often diagnosed in children and young adults. As a result, this form is often called “Juvenile Diabetes.”
To stay alive, Type 1 diabetics must take insulin daily for the remainder of their lives.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes and occurs because the body does not produce or use insulin well. It is generally diagnosed in middle-aged or older people, but can also develop during childhood.
Type 2 diabetes may be treated with insulin, various diabetes drugs, or a combination of both.
Gestational diabetes affects some women during pregnancy but usually goes away when the baby is born. However, gestational diabetes also increases the risk for Type 2 diabetes later in life.
What is Pre-diabetes?
Pre-diabetes occurs when an individual’s blood glucose is higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. While people with pre-diabetes are more likely to develop full-blown Type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes — eating a healthy diet, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly – can head off its development.
Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factor
The risk factors for Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes include:
While roughly 7 million Americans have undiagnosed diabetes, symptoms are frequently present and may include:
Unfortunately, diabetes often presents without symptoms, especially in the early stages. For that reason, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends individuals between the ages of 40 and 70 undergo screening for Type 2 diabetes. If the initial results are normal, testing should be repeated every three years. However, those at increased risk should start screening at a younger age and undergo more frequent testing.
Diabetes Long-Term Health Consequences
Many people mistakenly believe that diabetes is not a serious condition. But in fact, the disease causes more deaths each year than breast cancer and HIV/AIDS combined. Diabetics are also at risk for long-term health problems affecting the eyes, kidneys, heart, brain, and feet.
Diabetes-related eye problems include:
- Cataracts: A clouding of the lens of the eyes
- Glaucoma: Increased pressure in the eye
- Retinopathy: Changes affecting the retina in the back of the eye
It’s recommended that people with diabetes see an eye doctor every year for a dilated eye exam.
Symptoms of diabetes-related kidney problems include:
- Swelling of the hands, feet, and face
- Weight gain from edema
- Itching and/or drowsiness (a possible sign of end-stage kidney disease).
Heart and brain problems associated with diabetes:
People with diabetes are at increased risk for heart attack and stroke, and heart disease is the leading cause of death among those suffering from the condition. For that reason, it’s important that diabetics take steps to control high blood pressure, cholesterol, and other risk factors for heart disease.
Diabetic nerve problems:
High blood sugar can damage the body’s nerve endings, leading to:
- Burning pain
- Tingling or loss of feeling in the feet or lower legs
- Constipation and diarrhea
- Sexual dysfunction
Foot problems associated with diabetes:
Nerve damage and low blood flow caused by diabetes can lead to poorly healing wounds, sores, and blisters. People with diabetes can also lose feeling in their toes and feet. In the most serious cases, patients may require amputation of their toes, foot, or leg.
People with diabetes are at risk for various forms of neuropathy, including:
- Peripheral neuropathy: Damage to the peripheral nervous system
- Autonomic Type I: Damage to the nerves of internal organs
- Gastroparesis: Movement of food through the stomach slows or stops
- Postural hypotension: Drop in blood pressure due to change in body position
Managing and Treating Diabetes
The good news? It is possible to control blood glucose, manage diabetes and live a healthier life. Doing so usually requires a combination of:
- Healthy lifestyle choices: Getting regular exercise; maintaining a healthy weight; and eating a diet low in salt, saturated fat, and refined carbohydrates.
- Medications: People with diabetes are frequently prescribed insulin and/or other diabetes medications to control blood sugar in combination with a healthy lifestyle.
- Regular Monitoring: Attending all medical appointments, undergoing all necessary tests, and knowing blood sugar numbers.
About FCP Live-In Diabetes Care Services
We have provided the ultimate solution for assisted diabetes care services since 1997. Our live-in diabetes care services agency is committed to providing a unique and customized In-Home diabetes care services approach to senior care with the goal of a lifestyle that provides enjoyment for the one in care, and families with peace of mind.
FCP Live-In is a Live-In Home Care company with over two decades of experience specializing in elderly care needs within the home. Our live-in caregiver staff provides an insurance policy of safe and supportive care, along with a 24-hour professional support system that starts with our direct care staff in the home and expands out to a multi-faceted corporate structure that is there for the client and the Live-in Caregiver at all times.