Diabetes

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Recently Answered

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    You can limit the number of calories you eat each day, without eliminating your favorite foods. You just need to know how much to cut back on the amount of food you eat. This is known as "portion control." If you have diabetes and are overweight, shedding those extra pounds by reducing your calorie intake and eating smaller portions can help lower your blood glucose levels.
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    When a child has diabetes, the family’s potential for stress is high. The child with diabetes, parents and siblings all feel their own share of stress. Stress is a physical and mental reaction to perceived danger. Conditions that seem uncontrollable or require emotional and behavioral change tend to be perceived as a threat.

    When the body and mind sense a threat, they get ready to either run or fight. Whether the threat is real or imagined, the body prepares for survival by turning up some bodily functions while turning others down. In either case, over time these changes are serious and over time are harmful.

    Over time, stress is harmful because it causes so much wear and tear on the body. For example, the heart works faster and harder in preparation for physical action. The increase in pulse and blood pressure causes a strain on the heart, veins and arteries.

    Prolonged stress also has a negative impact on other bodily systems:
    • Immune
    • Digestive
    • Renal (kidney)
    • Reproductive
    In addition, the ability to think clearly and to make good decisions is impaired when the mind is burdened with worry, anxiety or fear. This constant mental strain can also increase the risk for depression.
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    AAmerican Red Cross answered
    Signs of a diabetic emergency include:
    • Changes in the level of consciousness
    • Changes in mood
    • Rapid breathing and pulse
    • Feeling and looking ill
    • Dizziness and headache
    • Confusion
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    AAndrea Pennington, MD, Integrative Medicine, answered
    Gymnema sylvestre certainly could serve as the backbone of a natural diabetes program. It has been used in India for the treatment of diabetes for more than 2,000 years. Used primarily for type 2 diabetes, its benefits extend to type l and it continues to be recommended today in India. The leaves help raise insulin levels. Gurmar, an extract of gymnema, tends to be a blood sugar balancer, lowering glucose significantly only in hyperglycemic people. It also significantly improves cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
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    APhil Southerland, Healthcare, answered
    Not every athlete with diabetes uses a pump. It’s a matter of personal preference. If you don’t like doing shots, and you don’t want to do more than four shots a day, I’d definitely recommend asking your doctor about an insulin pump.

    There are a million ways when it comes to diabetes control. Each person needs to have what they feel is the best bag of tricks to do it properly. On the Race Across America team, we had six riders on the pump and two on Lantus. Personally, I use a combination of Lantus, Apidra (a fast-acting insulin) and the continuous glucose monitor. My co-founder, Joe Eldridge, a professional cyclist, uses the pump with Apidra and the glucose monitor. Athletes are always trying to fine tune what we do and to do it better.
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    APhil Southerland, Healthcare, answered
    The benefit of a continuous blood glucose monitor is that it allows unpredictability to be manageable. You see these trending arrows and you can make adjustments on the fly.

    If you just check your blood sugar right before a run or ride, you’re going to go an hour before you check again. There is an entire hour you don’t know what your blood sugar was. With a continuous glucose monitor, you can see if it’s going up or down, and you can make proactive adjustments that make those unpredictable times extremely manageable.
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    APhil Southerland, Healthcare, answered
    In the past there has definitely been a stigma associated with diabetes. Here I am, an athlete and one of the best controlled people with diabetes in the world, and I still get people who, when I’m drinking soda or eating cake, will say, “You can’t have that. You have diabetes.”

    When I was younger it infuriated me, and I’d get mad and argumentative. As I’ve grown older, I realize it’s an opportunity I have to educate people. I would just suggest that if it’s possible, use it to educate your friends.
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    APhil Southerland, Healthcare, answered
    During the two- or three-hour window after strenuous exercise it’s crucial to know where your blood sugar is and do constant monitoring. It will be different today than it will be tomorrow. This is something all of our athletes with type 1 must do.

    After exercise, the body is going through a lot of hormonal changes. Whatever glucose gets produced in the bloodstream to help with exercise, whatever you eat during exercise that your body doesn’t use during the event, combined with the body’s cortisol production can cause a big spike in blood sugar immediately following exercise for about an hour-and-a-half period. It’s common among all of our athletes to give a bolus immediately following exercise to prevent this post-exercise spike. (Bolus is the term we use to describe delivering insulin.)

    At that point, it’s about tinkering with the right number to find out how much insulin you need. To dampen the spike, we will, the second we’re done with exercise, do a bolus of 4 units of insulin. If I want to eat, I would double the insulin I would normally do – but that’s just in that one hour period after exercise. Everyone is a little bit different. The one consistency we’ve seen is the spike immediately following exercise and the drop in blood sugar in the hour and a half post exercise.
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    AIntermountain Registered Dietitians, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    Food is made up of three main nutrients: fat, protein, and carbohydrate. Of these, carbs have the biggest effect on your blood glucose. For this reason, you need to match your insulin intake to your carbohydrate intake ("cover" your carbs). You can do this by carefully measuring your insulin doses and counting carbs in your meals and snacks.
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    AIntermountain Registered Dietitians, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    In years past, diabetes treatment meant strict control over your daily diet. But that's no longer the case. Thanks to newer insulin types, you and other kids with diabetes can be flexible in your eating habits. You can eat as much or as little as you need to satisfy your hunger. For you, meal planning is more about these basic principles:
    • Eat a variety of foods. This is the best way to make sure you're getting the energy, vitamins, and minerals you need to grow, play, work, and stay healthy.
    • Allow yourself treats once in a while -- but don't overdo it. There are no "bad foods" or "good foods" in your meal plan. But just like everybody else, you need to make healthy choices.
    • Try to stick to a schedule. Have your meals and snacks at about the same time every day, and don't "graze" in between.
    • Pay attention to carbohydrates (carbs) in your meals and snacks. Food is made up of three main nutrients: fat, protein, and carbohydrate. Of these, carbs have the biggest effect on your blood glucose. For this reason, you need to match your insulin intake to your carbohydrate intake ("cover" your carbs). You can do this by carefully measuring your insulin doses and counting carbs in your meals and snacks.
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