Approximately 30.3 million of people (9.4 percent of the U.S. population) have this big D…”Diabetes”, this is according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. This is a big deal because it is not an ordinary illness..it will radically change each one’s life…
“You have diabetes!” ..these are the three words that were stuck to me when I went for a check-up to a doctor (..who by the way was so strict) because of my family constantly telling me to see a specialist. It’s as if someone splashed a very, very, very cold water on me and I literally cannot stand up that very minute. I said to myself..”this doctor is lying..he probably misdiagnosed me.. I don’t have diabetes and I never will!”
As this doctor was talking, there were a lot of things that was running in my mind.. I thought that they will cut my leg, give me injections all the time, or I will never see again, and a lot more. In summary, I thought I am going to die..really very soon.
Most of us, I’m pretty sure, has the same impression of this kind of disease..that you will die. Well, actually all of us are going to be there but in our own time..and not mainly because of this.
Diabetes, do you know if you have it? This is the question I often hear now-a-days that people ask…but do you really know?
Knowledge is Power
What is diabetes? Some will say it is something to do with sugar, some says because of obesity or lifestyle or food. Well, they are right..but it’s not only that…
According Mayo Clinic, Diabetes Mellitus, or DM, refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel.
It’s like this…when a person eats his food, this food will be chewed in the mouth, swallowed down the esophagus, and digested in the stomach to be distributed for energy. The food that we eat will be converted into sugar (blood sugar) which is needed in our body for energy. For normal people, every time that they eat and their blood sugar go rising up, their insulin (..which is produced in the pancreas) is released to cover for the high levels of sugar in the blood, thus, maintaining it in the normal level.
For people with diabetes, when they eat and sugar go sky-rocketing high, they don’t have insulin (type 1) or some may still produce insulin but is not enough to cover the elevated blood sugar level (type 2) that is why they need something (..a pill or insulin) to cover their blood sugar levels and prevent it from being high.
There are three types of diabetes. Type 1 is when a person needs insulin injections in order to live because they are not producing insulin anymore in their body. It was also called before as Juvenile diabetes or Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). Type 2, on the other hand, are those people who still has some insulin-producing hormone but they need additional help with oral pills to maintain their sugar level in the normal or near normal levels, also called before as Non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). The third one is the Gestational diabetes wherein these are the mommies who, during pregnancy, they have diabetes and when they deliver the baby, their diabetes is resolved. However, most of the gestational mommies do tend to have diabetes (full-blown) later in their life…ESPECIALLY if they did not take care of themselves.
But, no matter what type of diabetes you may have, this can still lead to too much sugar in your blood…and excessive levels of blood sugar is a danger sign to serious health problems.
Most of the symptoms for type 1 and 2 are the same. Usually they will have the so-called 3 P’s –Polyuria (frequent urinating), Polydipsia (frequent thirst), and Polyphagia (excessive hunger). A person can also have an unexplained weight loss, easily gets tired, blurring of vision, wounds tend to heal very slowly, irritable behavior, headaches, and frequent infection like on the skin, gums, or vaginal area.
Other signs of diabetes include the presence of dark skin changes on the back of the neck, armpit, or groin (called acanthosis nigricans), and having a pungent fruity smell on your breath. This is due to the accumulation of acetone (ketone) that one’s body’s organs are producing. This sign can mean that a person is going to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)..a state wherein diabetes is uncontrolled characterized by high sugar levels (hyperglycemia), and the presence of ketone bodies in the blood and urine. DKA is very common in type 1 though it can also occur in people with type 2 (due to very high stress levels). DKA is a medical emergency that is requiring immediate medical treatment.
Usually, diabetes develops at any age but most of the time, Type 1 occurs at an early age or in adolescent..sometimes you will find someone in his/her early adulthood age that will be diagnosed with this type (..just like me). In Type 2, the most common one, it is often seen in people at the age of above 40 years old.
Need a doctor?
When is the best time to visit a doctor? If you are the type of person who only see a doctor if there is already a serious problem, then that would be an issue. I suggest you need to change a little bit.
- If you have a history of diabetes in the family, I think it would be a good idea if you can see a doctor immediately and do some lab works just for you to know if you have it or not..at least you know, right? If you don’t, that’s great..just keep yourself active and eat healthy. But, if you do have been diagnosed, then you need to have a regular visits with your physician for them to closely monitor you and maintain your blood sugar in the normal range.
- If you feel any difference in your body – any possible signs or symptoms of diabetes, then schedule an appointment with your doctor..as the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm…the earlier you will be diagnosed then the better chances of having fewer complications because of earlier treatment and management.
- If you don’t have any history, nor any symptoms but is mostly in a sedentary lifestyle, more than 40s, eating unhealthy, smoking, your race is included under the Black people, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans, having high blood pressure or abnormal cholesterol (“Good cholesterol”) and triglyceride levels, then the risk of you having this disease is very high (…especially of Type 2 diabetes). So, I suggest that you have a visit with your doctor to find out how are you doing..then probably try to modify your way of living. Reference: www.mayoclinic.org
Not knowing your numbers…beware!
Frequent high levels of blood sugar is very dangerous because this can lead to a lot of complications. This is very common to people who do not check his/her numbers frequently.
Possible complications if a patient maintain his blood sugar to high levels include:
-Kidney problems (Nephropathy)
-Nerve problems (Neuropathy)
-Eye problems (Retinopathy)
When you have diabetes, controlling it is like hit-and-miss. Sometimes, you are doing a good job but sometimes even if you did the same thing there will come a point wherein your sugar is out of whack, especially in Type 1. Frequent blood sugar checks are important so you will know what to do if it goes high or low.
There are a lot of blood glucose monitoring devices that are being sold in the market today. Some are good and some are the best. There are meters that need coding for you to be able to check your sugar, some are in like a disposable strip and meter kind of device, some has bluetooth that syncs to your smartphone, and some can calculate your insulin-carb ratio (ICR) already. Some of the most popular blood glucose meters in the market are: Accu-Chek Aviva Plus, Contour Net EZ, Walmart ReliON, OneTouch Verio, and Abbott FreeStyle Lite.
Insulin-carbohydrate ratio or ICR lets you figure out the amount of your fast-acting insulin necessary for the amount of carbohydrate you consume…sounds cool, right?
But which one is the best meter to use? Well, it’s all up to you in terms of budget, insurance, doctor’s prescription or sometimes preferences, and availability.
Let the “labs” begin..
When you have diabetes, expect frequent blood draws. This is for your doctor to make sure if your sugar are in the range.
Glycated hemoglobin test (HbA1c) measures your average blood sugar level for the past 2-3 months. This does not require fasting. If your sugar levels are always high, then your A1C will also be high. Normally, less than 5.7% is considered to be normal. For people with diabetes, the American Diabetes Association requires a level of 6.5% or less. Having a HbA1c of 7% or more makes you in high risk for different complications.
Random blood sugar test is another way to know your sugar levels. This does not need fasting also and can be taken anytime of the day. Normal range should be 79–160 mg/dL (4.4–7.8 mmol/L). Blood sugar of more than 200 mg/dL is considered diabetes according to American Diabetes Association guidelines.
Fasting blood sugar test needs fasting..meaning that this blood sugar test is taken early morning after waking up or before you eat your breakfast. You can use your glucose meter to check it at home. If your blood sugar level is less that 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L), then it is normal. A fasting blood sugar level between 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) is considered as prediabetes, and if it is 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate blood sugar tests, then you have diabetes.
Oral glucose tolerance test measures how good a person’s body’s cells absorb glucose (or sugar) after one consume a certain amount of sugar. This is usually a test for mommies to know if they have gestational diabetes. This is done by giving a patient a 75 grams of sugar in a form of liquid. First, they will get a fasting blood test then will give an 8 ounce drink of this syrupy sugar solution and will wait for two hours. Within that two hours, blood will be drawn during the first hour and the second hour. A blood sugar level less than 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L) is normal. If the result is more than 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) after two hours, then the patient has diabetes. If it is between 140 and 199 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L and 11.0 mmol/L), then it indicates prediabetes. Reference: www.mayoclinic.org
The doctor can also do tests to check for any kidney damage via urinalysis to know if you are excreting protein in your urine (microalbumin). If you are positive for protein in the urine, then follow up blood test for blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and blood creatinine – are done.
Heart diseases are also high in people with diabetes. Your physician will also need to order blood tests to measure levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
In a bird’s-eye view..
Personally, I have tried different tools to manage my diabetes. From the manual coding blood glucose meter to the high tech device of being able to calculate your ICR (insulin-carb ratio). I even tried using continuous glucose monitoring devices..from the very expensive to the newest and low priced brand. I think I have tried everything on my part to control my blood sugar but of course there will still be times that it has a mind of its own.
I guess the only thing I can say is that living with diabetes should not be a nightmare for us..we should not deprive ourselves of those things that we used to do (..but we should know our limits). Having this kind of disease is just like a reminder for us to live a life that is active and healthy.
We’re hoping that this has helped in some way. If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section and we will be more than happy to help you out as much as we can.
Categorised in: Blog
All the best,
Jacy and Ryan (TMD Team)