Dealing with Diabetes
A Healthy Lifestyle Helps Starve-off Diabetes
Diabetes is a lifelong disease that usually catches its patients off guard. Many have no indication that they suffer from diabetes until they go for a medical checkup. With a lack of awareness on diabetes, the disease is becoming a rising worry in the country with a staggering figure of 3 million sufferers out of a total population of 28 million in the year 2011.
If left untreated, diabetes could make your life miserable as there are many diseases linked to it – eye, skin, foot and heart complications, stroke, hypertension, mental health, hearing loss, stroke, erectile dysfunction, infections and slow healing of wounds. Although diabetes cannot be cured, the disease can be controlled and treated with the proper care and treatment.
What is diabetes?
One may know that diabetes is associated with high consumption of sugar and the presence of glucose in the urine but what it really is is a metabolic disease where the person has a high blood glucose level in their blood. Glucose is a source of energy for your body but it needs insulin to transport it from the bloodstream into muscle, fat and liver cells to be used as energy. Diabetics have high blood sugar due to insufficient insulin production, body cells not responding properly to insulin, or both.
There are 3 types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetic patients do not produce insulin. Thus, they will need insulin injections for the rest of their lives. As for Type 2 diabetic patients, their bodies do not produce enough insulin for proper functioning or their body are insulin-resistant i.e. they do not react to insulin. Those who are obese or overweight have a much higher risk to develop Type 2 diabetes compared to those with ideal weight.
Gestational diabetes affects only pregnant women. With a very high level of glucose in their bodies and insufficient insulin produced to transport all the glucose into their cells, their glucose levels spike gradually.
How do you know you have diabetes?
Among the few changes that take place in your body when you have diabetes are frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue, irritability and blurred vision. Cuts or bruises recur and become slow to heal too, gum or bladder infections start to take place and there is also either a tingling sensation or numbness in the hands or feet.
However, those with type 2 diabetes often do not exhibit any symptoms. They usually have prediabetes, which is a higher than normal blood sugar level, but not high enough to be considered diabetic.
Warning signs of diabetes
Individuals can experience different warning signs, and sometimes there may be no obvious warning, but some of the signs of diabetes are commonly experienced:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Increased hunger
- Weight loss
- Lack of interest and concentration
- Vomiting and stomach pain (often mistaken as the flu)
- A tingling sensation or numbness in the hands or feet
- Blurred vision
- Frequent infections
- Slow-healing wounds
The onset of type 1 diabetes is usually sudden and dramatic while the symptoms can often be mild or absent in people with type 2 diabetes, making this type of diabetes gradual in onset and hard to detect.
If you show these signs, consult a health professional.
Managing your diabetic condition is pretty much about controlling the level of blood sugar. The three main things that will affect how much sugar you have in your blood are your food, exercise and medication.
Schedule your meals
Keep in mind that your blood sugar level is at its highest during the first two hours after your meal intake. As such, you can eat at the same time every day to lessen the variation in your blood sugar level. Between meals, you can eat smaller meals or healthy snacks.
Eat a well-balanced meal
It is very important to eat almost the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal because they affect your blood sugar level greatly. Try to have as many meals of the right mix of starches, fruits and vegetables, proteins and fats. You can always consult your doctor or dietician for an appropriate diet.
Eat the right portions
Each type of food has its own appropriate portion size. Do not overeat or under eat. Learn what portions are appropriate and write down the portion you eat often. Standardize your measurements by using cups or scales.
Coordinate your meals with your medication
Hypoglycemia – dangerously low blood sugar level – happens if there is too little food compared to your diabetes medication. On the other hand, hyperglycemia – dangerously high blood sugar level – could happen if there is too much food compared to your diabetes medication. Thus, it is important to talk to your doctor to coordinate your meal and medication to strike a balance.
Physical activity is important for your muscles to use the glucose in your body for energy. A regular physical activity could improve your body’s response to insulin. Both light and heavy activities could lower your blood sugar level but a strenuous workout makes the effect lasts longer.
Get an exercise plan and schedule
Get your doctor to plan a suitable exercise plan for you especially if you have been inactive for a long time. Your doctor will need to check your heart condition before advising you. You should also know the best time to sweat it out to coordinate with your meal and medication time.
Keep track of your blood sugar level and stay hydrated
Always check your blood sugar level before, during and after exercise. Be aware of warning signs of low blood sugar level – shaky, weak, confused, lightheaded, irritable, anxious, tired or hungry – especially if you have take insulin or medications that lower blood sugar level beforehand. Remember to drink plenty of water while working out as blood sugar level is affected if you are dehydrated.
Keep a snack or pill on standby
In the case of dangerously low blood sugar level, always keep a snack or glucose pill with you during an exercise.
The medication you take depend on the timing and size. First of all, you must store your insulin properly as improperly stored insulin may be ineffective. If you face any problems with your medication, see your doctor to adjust the dosage and timing. You should also always be cautious with new medications. Get your doctor’s advice before getting an over-the-counter medication.
Prepare for the situations that may arise
Illness, menstruation, menopause and stress can affect your sugar level. What you could do is to plan ahead for it. Consult your doctor for a sick-day plan to know what medications to take. Other than that, look for a pattern in your menstrual cycle and stress level. Once you know how these situations affect your blood sugar level, you can consult your doctor for a special plan designed for such situations. You should also learn to relax and cope with your stress.