Prevention and Management of Diabetes



What is Diabetes?

Roughly 34 million Americans have diabetes. Diabetes is a serious disease that results in higher than normal blood sugar levels. The most common types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes occurs when your pancreas does not make insulin or makes very little insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. The hormone regulates the amount of glucose in your blood. Glucose is a type of sugar that comes from the food you eat. Glucose gets into your bloodstream and insulin causes cells throughout your body to absorb the sugar and use it for energy. Without insulin, cells cannot absorb the sugar and the glucose builds up in the bloodstream, causing high blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is when your body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin. This means your pancreas will try and produce more insulin to try to keep your blood glucose levels normal, but your pancreas will not be able to keep up. Since there is not enough insulin, cells will not be able to absorb the sugar and the glucose will build up, causing high blood sugar. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes and typically occurs in adults 45 or older.


Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes can come on quickly or appear after months. Once symptoms appear it is important to see a doctor immediately, as symptoms can be severe.

  • Increased thirst

  • Frequent urination

  • Extreme hunger

  • Unintentional weight loss

  • Irritability and unusual mood changes

  • Itchy skin

  • Abdominal pain

  • Fatigue

  • Blurred vision

Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes

To manage type 1 diabetes insulin injections are needed. The insulin injections will replace the insulin your body is not able to produce and will control your blood glucose levels. It is important to find the right amount of insulin to take. If you take too much insulin this will cause your blood sugar level to become too low. This is referred to as hypoglycemia, which can be life threatening. If your blood sugar becomes too low you may experience symptoms of fatigue, pale skin, fast heartbeat, seizures, or loss of consciousness. If you take too much insulin this will cause your blood sugar level to become to high. This is referred to as hyperglycemia and can also be life threatening. To know how much insulin to take it is important to check your blood sugar regularly. Today there are many glucose monitoring devices to help you continuously manage your blood sugar levels.


Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are similar to that of type 1, however they appear slower overtime and can be less severe. If you experience symptoms it is important to see a doctor and not overlook the symptoms as something that is not serious.

  • Increased thirst

  • Frequent urination

  • Always hungry

  • Slow healing of cuts and wounds

  • Fatigue

  • Lack of energy

  • Pain in hands or feet such as, tingling or numbness

  • Patches of dark skin

  • Itchy skin

Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes

The treatment of type 2 diabetes often involves lifestyle changes. Changing your diet, exercising more, and losing weight can help your body normalize your blood sugar levels. It is important to have a healthy diet because overeating extra calories and fat can cause your blood sugar levels to rise. To eat a healthy diet, avoid foods containing saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium. Exercising is also important to manage type 2 diabetes. Increasing exercise can be anything from taking a walk around your neighborhood to going on a bike ride. When you exercise your resistance to insulin decreases and your cells will be able to absorb the glucose in your bloodstream. If you have type 2 diabetes, see your doctor to come up with a treatment plan that involves changes in your diet and exercise to life a healthy life.


World Diabetes Day

Saturday, November 14th is World Diabetes Day. Today about 463 million people are living with diabetes. World Diabetes Day was created to bring awareness to the growing issue of diabetes as a global health issue. Each year the World Diabetes Day campaign focuses on a new theme. The theme for World Diabetes Day 2020 is The Nurse and Diabetes. The Nurse and Diabetes theme was created to bring awareness to the important role nurses play in helping people living with diabetes.


Nurses play a vital role in:

  • Diagnosing patients

  • Helping patients prevent and manage their condition

  • Encouraging self-care and a healthier lifestyle

  • Assessing patients’ nutritional needs

  • Monitoring blood glucose levels

  • Identifying and treating hypoglycemia

  • Identifying and treating hyperglycemia

Nurses are an essential role in the health workforce as the number of people with diabetes increases around the world. November 14th is a day to recognize the hard work of diabetes nurses. For more information on World Diabetes Day 2020, you can visit worlddiabetesday.org. Worlddiabetesday.org is requesting that national governments recognize and advance the role of nurses in diabetes care.

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