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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    Sometimes problems arise among family members when they don’t really understand the disease. If your teenager is grumpy because he has to wait for you to take an insulin shot before you drive him to the mall, it may be because he doesn’t understand how important it is. If your spouse is waving potato chips under your nose when you are trying to cut back, she may not understand the importance of your goal to eat healthily.

    Many people think that treating diabetes is as simple as taking insulin a few times a day. Keep in mind that you have the right to ask for the support you need. As a first step, each family member needs to understand what diabetes is, how it is managed, and how to handle emergencies.

    Tips for Educating Your Family

    • Books, magazines, pamphlets, libraries, support groups, online message boards, and medical professionals can all be of assistance.
    • Take a family member with you to some of your health care appointments. By keeping a running list of questions or issues with which they may be concerned, your family can get answers to their questions firsthand.
    • Many diabetes education programs encourage family members to attend. The more information they have, the more they can help you and learn to integrate your diabetes management plan into the daily family routines.

    Finally, your family should know what to do in an emergency. Make sure they understand the signs of hypoglycemia. Often people with diabetes having a low blood glucose episode will deny that there is a problem or refuse treatment, even though they may be in danger. Make sure your family members can ­recognize the signs of hypoglycemia and know how to deal with it.

    Depending on your family, you can expect different re­sponses to your diabetes and different levels of enthusiasm for helping you work toward your food and exercise goals. Some may join in wholeheartedly, looking at this as a team effort. Other families or family members may resent making changes when they aren’t the one who is sick. You need to find the approach that works best for you. In some situations, you may be better off if you go it alone.

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    Open communication will help. Explain that you are not going on a diet and you are not going to force your family into meager eating conditions. The eating recommendations for people with diabetes are basically guidelines for healthy eating.

    The key is getting your family’s input. No one likes to be forced into doing something they don’t like to do. Your family can also help with your eating plan. For many people, this is the most difficult adjustment to make after being diagnosed with diabetes.

    You may want to change some of the foods you eat and when you eat them. It will help you tremendously if the members of your family are willing to accommodate your new plan.

    Common Meal Conflicts

    • If you’re trying to lose weight, you may need to eat smaller portions of certain foods or to avoid some high-calorie foods that your family enjoys. If sticking with your meal plan gnaws at your willpower, ask your family not to eat these foods in front of you, to have them less often, or to not always keep them in the house.
    • Your family may object to eating different food and may resent eating on schedule.

      Always remember that eating well for diabetes is not really a special diet, it just means eating sensibly. Whether you have diabetes or not, eating large amounts of sugar, fats, and salt isn’t good for ­your health.

       

    • 2 Answers
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      One way to enlist your family’s support in managing your diabetes is to look at your schedule and routines.  Probably the best way to approach this is to enlist their support right away.

      Tips for Family Scheduling

      • Hold a family meeting and explain how important it is to coordinate insulin doses, physical activity, and meals.
      • Ask for suggestions as to how your needs can fit into the family routine.
      • Perhaps other family members can do a little more, or it may mean enlisting some outside help.

         

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        ADawn Marcus, Neurology, answered
        Your body carefully regulates your blood glucose levels while you sleep, so you don't experience a drop in blood sugar levels even though you've fasted for 7 or 8 hours. If you lay down for 7 or 8 hours, don't eat, and stay awake, your blood sugar levels will drop. While you sleep, your body carefully adjusts sugar levels, changing your metabolism when you're in light and deep stages of sleep. Sleep restriction harms your body's natural ability to properly regulate blood sugar levels. Changes in metabolic hormones in people who have chronic sleep deprivation may result in increased risk for insulin resistance and diabetes.
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        ARobin Miller, MD, Integrative Medicine, answered
        Dr. Robin Miller - Is there an alternative to insulin injections?
        Treating diabetes with a pill instead of insulin injections is the wave of the future. In this video, Dr. Robin Miller explains how diabetes may soon be a needleless disease.

      • 3 Answers
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        Diabetes is largely a self-managed illness. Unlike more acute illnesses, you provide almost all of your own care.

        It is up to you. You are free to decide how much or how little you do to care for your diabetes. Because you benefit from the results of your choices, you have the absolute right to make these decisions.

        Many things in our lives are not of our own choosing. Diabetes is not something most people would choose to have. Although you cannot change having diabetes, you do make choices about how you live with it and your attitude toward it. No matter how constrained you may feel, you can often make different choices.

        Freedom brings responsibility as well. In fact, freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin. Because the choices you make affect your outcomes, you have a great deal of responsibility for your own health and quality of life.

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        AEliot LeBow, CDE, LCSW, Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, answered

        Yes, Primarily in Juvenile Diabetes there is a genetic component that is passed down bi-generationally. Basically, if your grandfather or grandmother had Juvenile Diabetes you are more prone to develop Type One Diabetes. 

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        Having a new baby can affect your diabetes care habits, especially if you have other children to care for. You may find that your baby’s unpredictable schedule and your own erratic sleep patterns make it difficult for you to eat or snack when you need to. Using multiple insulin injections may make your life easier and give you more flexibility. Although it is tempting to put your infant’s needs before your own, taking care of yourself is important for both you and your baby.

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        Hormonal changes, emotional shifts, irregular sleep patterns, and fatigue may hide or change your symptoms of high or low blood glucose. You may find it hard to tell the difference between “after-baby” blues, such as unexplained crying or moodiness, and low or high blood glucose. Fatigue, feeling spacey, weakness, or forgetfulness can be caused by both high and low blood glucose and by lack of sleep. If you’re not sure, play it safe and check your blood glucose.

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        AStacy Wiegman, PharmD, Pharmacy, answered
        If you have diabetes, your doctor may treat your pregnancy a little differently. For example, if a woman has diabetes, some doctors would prefer to deliver her baby a week or two before the due date to lower the risk of certain problems at birth. After you deliver, you should breastfeed your baby. But because breastfeeding can lower the amount of insulin your body needs, you'll need to check your blood sugar and adjust any medications accordingly. You'll also want to plan your meals and snacks carefully around breastfeeding so you don't experience very low blood sugar.
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