Her Check-Up: Let's talk about... Diabetes
Chances are we've all heard of diabetes, but how many of us really know the ins and outs of the condition?
To understand diabetes, we need to look at the role of insulin in the body.
When you eat, your body turns food into sugars, or glucose. At that point, your pancreas is supposed to release insulin. Insulin serves as a key to open your cells, to allow the glucose to enter, allowing you to use the glucose for energy. But with diabetes, this system does not work.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition caused by a lack, or insufficiency of insulin produced by the pancreas. With diabetes, the pancreas makes too little insulin to enable all the sugar in your blood to get into your muscle and other cells to produce energy.
When sugar can't get into the cells to be used for energy, it can build up in the blood stream, causing high blood sugar levels.
There are two main types of diabetes:
Type 1 - usually diagnosed in early childhood, type 1 treats patients treat their condition by taking insulin injections
Type 2 - also called “adult onset” diabetes, this form of the condition is commonly as a result of being overweight, or leading a sedentary lifestyle. Although these patients can produce insulin, their stores do not meet the demand for their body to break down their diet.
Although, type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the most common forms diagnosed, gestational diabetes can also occur during pregnancy.
So, how can you tell if you're developing diabetes?
Common symptoms of people diagnosed with diabetes include:
• Blurred vision
• Fatigue, lack of energy
• Extreme thirst
• Frequent trips to the bathroom (urination) especially at night
• Rapid and unexplained weight gain or loss
• Frequent infections
• Numbness, pain or tingling in your hands or feet
As with all health issues, consult a doctor if you are concerned that you may be suffering from an illness or condition.
How can you treat diabetes?
For type 1 diabetes, people control their condition with regular insulin injections. This is a careful balance act, with the person taking the following factors into account:
- Emotions and general health
A diabetes patient must be careful when taking insulin. If you take too much, then your body burns too much glucose - and your blood sugar can drop to a dangerously low level. This is a condition called hypoglycemia, which if left untreated, can be potentially life-threatening.
If you take too little insulin, your body can again be starved of the energy it needs, and your blood sugar can rise to a dangerously high level - a condition called hyperglycemia. This also increases the chance of long-term complications.
For type 2 diabetes, many doctors recommend a change to diet and exercise to see if this can improve the condition. This may be supplemented with insulin injections if required.
As with all treatments, consult a trained healthcare professional before taking any medication or diet plans.
If you're worried you have diabetes...
Book in an appointment to speak to your GP and tell them why you think you may have diabetes. A simple diabetes test will be carried out, which will ease any worries you may have.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, don’t worry as this is very manageable with effective treatment. Early detection and controlled treatment means this will be easily managed in your daily life.
For more information, visit Diabetes Ireland or book in to speak with your local doctor.