What is diabetes?
Through the body's normal digestive process, food is broken down into sugars. These are absorbed into the bloodstream and used as a source of energy. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, takes sugar into the cells. If the balance of sugar and insulin is not correct, the cells will starve and the body will not be able to function properly. Diabetes mellitus, or simply diabetes, is the condition in which the body produces little or no insulin. There are about 12 million diabetics in the U.S. today.
There are two different types of diabetes. Type I, or insulin-dependent diabetes, often begins in childhood, and is also called juvenile diabetes. A type I diabetic's body produces little to no insulin. Insulin-dependent diabetics must inject themselves daily with insulin, typically two or three times a day. Type II, or noninsulin-deependent diabetes, often occurs in older adults, and is also called maturity-onset diabetes. A type II diabetic's body produces some insulin; however, the quantity is insufficient for the body's needs.
All diabetics must closely monitor their diet and exercise. They must check their blood sugar level regularly, usually three or four times a day, by testing their blood or urine on a test strip. They must keep their blood sugar level between 70 and 130, and adjust their shots and eating habits accordingly. Diabetics typically are allowed no sugar in their diets except to counteract a low blood sugar reaction. Life becomes very structured around mealtimes, and the lifestyle can be very stressful, especially for parents caring for children or infants who unfortunately have this condition. However, diabetics can and do live normal, productive lives. As long as they monitor their blood glucose levels, take the appropriate shots and eat at the correct times, diabetics are just like anyone else. In addition, diabetics should take good care of their feet and eyes, as two of the most common complications resulting from this condition are feet having to be amputated and vision problems as severe as blindness. Kidney problems are also quite common, and many diabetics go on dialysis as they get older and their kidneys start to fail. Taking good care of yourself, keeping your blood glucose levels under control, exercising regularly and visiting your primary care physician and a good endocrinologist often will help ensure that your diabetes causes few complications later in life.
Signs that you may have diabetes:
you are very tired and you are always very thirsty, no matter how much fluid you drink
If you think you may have diabetes, ask your doctor to test your blood glucose level and inform him or her that you are concerned about possibly being diabetic. Have your blood glucose level tested as soon as possible, because if you are diabetic and your blood glucose level rises too high, you will go into a coma and you could die.
First, try this:
When the insulin level in the body is too ;ow and the blood sugar level is too high, the resulting condition is called hypoglycemia. If this condition is not corrected, the victim may go into a diabetic coma. When the insulin level in the body is too high and the blood sugar level is too low, the resulting condition is called hypoglycemia. Unfortunately, the symptoms of hyper- and hypoglycemia are very similar. They include: dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, rapid breathing, rapid pulse, and sweating yet with skin that is cold to the touch. If you know that a person is diabetic and he or she is experiencing these symptoms, treat the person as though he or she haas hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. If the victim is conscious, give him or her something to eat or drink that contains plenty of sugar, such as candy, fruit juice, sugar soda, etc. If the person is suffering from low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, the sugar will help within minutes. If the person is feeling ill because of high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, he or she will not be harmed by the extra sugar.
If the victim does not feel any better after five minutes, CALL EMS.
Visit the American Diabetes Association's website! Better yet, check out ways you can volunteer to help out!