What is Diabetes?

Diabetes has been a notorious disease known to the public for many years. However, since the availability of Insulin, medication for diabetics and blood glucose monitoring systems, people with diabetes now can more effectively and reliably manage their health outside a hospital or doctor's office. Even with all the conveniences of monitoring your diabetes, you will still have to know more about this disease. Managing your diabetes better depends on diet, fitness, medication and blood glucose monitoring. For you to better manage your diabetes, we have offered you some diabetes care information to improve the quality of your life with diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease in the body which does not properly produce (Type 1diabetes), or does not properly use (Type 2 diabetes) insulin, the substance that helps convert sugar, starches and other foods into energy. The result is that your body cannot have the energy needed. Un-converted sugar will therefore build up in your blood to damage the functions of your body organs. Glucose is the body's major source of the energy you need. It is produced when the body digests carbohydrates (sugars and starches). When your body lacks insulin or cannot properly use insulin, the blood glucose can’t be converted into energy and hence the blood glucose (blood sugar) level increases. Abnormally higher or lower blood glucose levels can have both short and long-term effects to damage your body organs. There are several types of diabetes complications, each of them having different symptoms and requiring different care and treatment. Most of the forms are Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The conditions associated with “prediabetes” include impaired glucose control and abnormal fasting glucose. Pregnant women are quite likely to develop gestational diabetes symptoms. Diabetic women, when pregnant, may also have certain concerns related to various conditions. Whenever you experience one or more of the following symptoms such as more frequent urination, blurred eye vision, fatigue or drowsiness, poor healing wounds or bruises, more frequent hunger and thirst, suddenly rapid weight loss, dry itchy skin, loss of feeling in hands or feet, you are advised to immediately consult your healthcare professional for medical attention. At this moment in time, there is no way to fully cure your diabetes. However, many people with diabetes can still live healthily for a long time without medical complications, with proper monitoring of blood glucose, proper control of diet, exercise or medication. Medical professionals have since long suggested that some changes in the way you live can reduce the chance to acquire, or delay the development of Type 2 diabetes among high-risk adults. For example, proper diet and exercise can actually help reduce the development of Type 2 diabetes. It is more effective to younger, heavier people and less effective to older people or people without overweight. So far, there is no better way to properly control Type 1 diabetes. However, there are many newer insulin and insulin delivery systems developed to help people with Type 1 diabetes better manage their health. Nowadays, more and more young people are developing and suffering Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for most of the diabetes sufferers and which was usually regarded as a disease only for older people. People with a family history of diabetes, or from an ethnic heritage, are more likely to have diabetes. The serious complications of diabetes can be, but not limited to, heart disease, stroke, blindness, nerve damage, loss of feeling, high blood pressure, kidney disease, amputation, and difficult healing. These complications can be delayed or reduced with proper monitoring of blood glucose, healthy diet, proper exercise and medication.

Why test your blood glucose?

Testing your blood glucose regularly is crucial to better manage your diabetes. Your blood glucose test results can help you understand how well you are managing your blood glucose and how to take proper medication. You should always keep your blood glucose level in the ranges recommended by your healthcare professionals, and consult your caregiver if it goes too high or too low. With the measured blood glucose level known, you can then properly adjust your diet, exercise or medical treatment. Always keep your blood glucose level as close to the target ranges as possible to reduce the risk of diabetes complications. There are several occasions when you should check your blood glucose level. You should consult with your healthcare providers for recommendations to establish a glucose testing program best for you, which could possibly include, but not limited to, blood glucose tests before and after meals, exercise, and medication. Everyone might have different testing programs which should take into account the conditions of diabetes you have, and the actions you take. Since your diet will affect your blood glucose, blood glucose tests, for example, before and after meals will show you if the previous diet was good for you. A glucose test before a meal can help you determine the right meal and insulin for the next meal, while a glucose test after a meal helps you understand how your meal affected your blood glucose, and whether your body had the right type and amount of insulin. This is an example of how you could manage your diabetes with proper meal plans. Furthermore, taking a mild or more strenuous exercise can also affect your effort to keep your blood glucose levels under control. Blood glucose testing before and after exercise will help you plan a proper activity or exercise program best for you. It's usually a good practice to exercise at your higher energy level, which is about one to three hours after meals. Please note that you should test your blood glucose before exercise to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Please also be aware that some physical activities can raise your blood glucose levels. Therefore, great caution should be taken if your blood glucose is already relatively high. To avoid low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) which may jeopardize your exercise program, it helps to eat a snack before you exercise. You should not continue to exercise at blood glucose levels below 70 mg/dL, and should avoid exercise at glucose levels above 300 mg/dL. For Type 1 diabetes with fasting glucose above 250 mg/dL, having ketones in the urine, consult your doctor for a proper diabetes management plan. Proper blood glucose tests can be used to determine if the insulin your body produced, or the insulin you injected, can keep your blood glucose levels in the target range. If the blood glucose test results are not consistent with the way you feel, you should consult with your medical professionals to amend your medication program. Abnormally high blood glucose levels can put you at higher risk for serious health problems, especially if the glucose levels have not been well controlled for a long period of time. Always consult your healthcare professionals to help you develop the best program for you.

Managing Your Diabetes

So far, there is no cure for diabetes. Nevertheless, newer types of insulin and medical devices can provide better choices to people with diabetes. In addition to monitoring your blood glucose level and taking necessary medication, the key to proper diabetes management still relies on healthy diet and exercise. To change the way you live with diabetes is a serious issue. However, proper management of your diabetes and your disease can prevent or delay serious health complications, including kidney failure and blindness. Always consult your healthcare professionals for a proper diabetes management program best for you.

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