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Learn About Your Health: Diabetes

Learn About Your Health: Diabetes

Due to changing trends in our lifestyle and diets, this serious condition is on the increase. Take a few minutes to find out how you can prevent or manage sugar diabetes.

 
WHAT IS DIABETES?
Diabetes is a life-long condition where you have too much sugar in your blood, due to a lack of insulin. This high blood sugar level, if left untreated, can cause irreversible the damage and ultimately lead to death.
 
 
UNDERSTANDING DIABETES
 
Your body is made up of millions of cells, all of which require energy to function properly. The food you eat is broken down into a simple sugar called glucose, which is carried to the cells to supply energy. Insulin, a hormone made in your pancreas, enables the glucose to enter your cells. As the glucose enters your cells, your blood sugar level drops.
 
If you lack insulin (Type I Diabetes) or if your insulin is ineffective (Type II Diabetes) – glucose is not able to enter your cells and accumulates in your blood. This causes:
 
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst 
  • Hunger 
  • Tiredness
 
OTHER SYMPTOMS INCLUDE
 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Dry skin or skin infections 
  • Nausea 
  • Recurring infections 
  • Wounds or cuts that won’t heal 
  • Unexplained weight loss 
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
 
THE FOLLOWING HIGH RISK CATEGORIES ARE ASSOCIATED WITH DIABETES: 
 
A family history of diabetes – Over 40 years of age – High blood pressure – Raised cholesterol – Overweight 
 
 
DETECT DIABETES EARLY!
 
Between 90-95 % of diabetes suffer from type 2 diabetes, and unless this condition is diagnosed early enough, serious complications may be the result:
 
  • Heart disease – 75 % of diabetes patients die from cardiovascular complications.
  • Nerve damage – 50 % of all amputations performed are due to uncontrolled diabetes. 
  • Kidney failure – occurs as a result of nerve damage. 
  • Visual impairment – 50 % of patients with uncontrolled diabetes suffer visual impairment.
 
 
Because there is no cure for diabetes, it is vital that you maintain control at all times. Empower yourself by learning as much as you can about diabetes. 
 
Diabetes can be controlled with:
 
  • Exercise 
  • Meal planning 
  • Diabetes medication (prescribed) 
  • Regular contact with your health care team
 
MONITORING AND CONTROL
 
You need to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and keep them as close to normal as possible. You can achieve this by balancing food intake with medication and activity. You can self-monitor your blood glucose at home, using a blood glucose meter.
 
 
DANGER ZONE
 
Any kind of illness or infection will increase your insulin needs. Therefore when you are ill:
 
  • Check your temperature every 4 hours. Notify your health care practitioner if there is a rise. 
  • Test your blood sugar every two hours. 
  • Test your urine key-tones if (1) there is a rise in blood sugar, (2) you are nauseous or vomiting.
  • Watch for signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, dry skin, dark urine or decreased urination. 
  • Remember to take your insulin or diabetes pills, even if you cannot eat.
  • Get medical advice on dosage adjustments. 
  • Drink at least one cup of kilojoule-free liquid every hour
 
HOW TO MANAGE DIABETES
 
Diabetes is a treatable condition. Keep a positive attitude and take note of the changes you have to make to your lifestyle to control the disease.
 
Eat a healthy diet to help keep your blood sugar in control and to maintain a healthy body weight.
 
Get regular exercise to help regulate your blood sugar. It will also reduce your risk of heart disease, and help to control your weight.
 
If drugs are prescribed to help keep your blood sugar in control, take them as instructed. Too little medication will make your blood sugar rise higher that usual, and too much will cause your blood sugar level to drop.
 
Take good care of your feet. Diabetes affects the nerve function and blood flow to the feet, increasing your risk of infection.
 
Get regular eye exams. Changes in your eyesight caused by diabetes often have no symptoms until the damage is quite advanced.
 
 

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