What goes through your mind when you hear the word “diabetes”? Do you think it is a disease that will not affect you? Do you wonder what it is, or perhaps think of a relative who suffers from it?
Diabetes, once a disease that was not part of the norm in British culture, is now a widespread and rampant epidemic. According to a Diabetes UK report, there are now 4.8 million people living with all forms of diabetes in the UK. The number of people affected by it is expected to rise to 5.3 million by 2025.
This is a staggering statistic that shows how widespread this disease really is, especially as in many cases it is preventable.
What is Diabetes?
The reasons that people get diabetes vary from individual to individual. But it is a serious disease, especially as we get older. Before we look more closely at how to avoid or treat diabetes, it is important to understand what it is and how it works.
Diabetes UK does a good job of defining this disease and its types. They state the following:
‘The risk factors are different for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas have been destroyed. No one knows for sure why these insulin-producing cells have been damaged, but the most likely cause is an abnormal response to the cells by the body. This may be caused by a virus or other infection.
Type 2 diabetes usually occurs in middle-aged or older people, although it is increasingly being diagnosed in younger overweight people, and it is known to affect people from Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnicity (BAME) backgrounds at a younger age.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or the insulin that is produced is not being used properly. The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes can be reduced by making lifestyle changes.’
Causes of Diabetes
Diabetes can be genetic, caused by a disease, or caused by an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle. WebMD explains how diabetes works: ‘Normally, the pancreas (an organ behind the stomach) secretes insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food you eat.
Diabetes can occur when the pancreas produces very little or no insulin or when the body does not respond appropriately to insulin. So far, there is no cure. People with diabetes need to manage their disease to stay healthy’.
Diabetes has many symptoms; and once you have it, the only way to treat the disease is through lifestyle changes or medicine. The consequences of living with diabetes should not be underestimated, as it can lead to limb loss and death. But more on this later.
Diagnosis and Symptoms of Diabetes
Now that you know what diabetes is and how common it is, the question becomes how to tell if you have diabetes.
There are many ways to diagnose diabetes. The first is to know if it runs in your family. Family history is a good indicator of your health risk.
According to WebMD, ‘If you have relatives with diabetes, there is a good chance you’ll get it, too’. If this is the case, speak with your doctor. Your doctor can give you a blood test to see if you have diabetes. To learn more about those tests in depth, visit the WebMD website.
A blood test looks at your blood sugar levels as a snapshot or over a period of time. Your doctor will let you know where you fall on the diabetes spectrum, which includes pre-diabetes and full-blown diabetes.
There are other markers of diabetes that may lead you to your doctor. While these symptoms can be confused with other ailments, there are three main physiological indicators of the disease: constant hunger, excessive thirst and constant urination.
Your doctor will determine if these are caused by diabetes or another concern. It also causes many dangerous and life-threatening conditions as shown in the image below.
Treatment and Beyond
Taking control of your life to prevent or manage diabetes is an important and multi-faceted pursuit. Along with regular doctor visits and nutrition counselling, it can often be managed or prevented.
When dealing with this disease, you will most likely want a team of healthcare professionals. As you have seen, diabetes can affect many parts of your body, which is why a team of specialists is crucial. The members of your healthcare team can include the following.
- Foot doctor
- Eye doctor
- Diabetes specialist (called an endocrinologist)
- Primary care doctor
Treatment goes beyond visiting doctors, potential medication, and other devices. The most powerful person on your team is you. Eating a proper diet and getting sufficient exercise, can help control your blood sugar levels. These things are directly correlated to the disease.
While your team of specialists can help provide specific information that will be aimed at your specific situation, in general, you can learn more about self-care for diabetes.
How We Help
At Telecare24, we care about you and your elderly relatives, which is why we aim to educate people with helpful information that is directly related to quality of life. We have many tools and technologies that can help you and your loved ones live a safe and productive life with dignity. To learn more, contact us or view my video below.
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