Your Take-charge Tool Kit
Complications of diabetes, such as cardiovascular problems, poor vision, kidney disease, and nerve damage, were once thought to be inevitable no matter how hard you tried to manage erratic swings in blood sugar the core problem of diabetes. But that thinking is no longer acceptable. Several major studies from around the world have shown that if you bring blood sugar into a normal range with drugs, insulin, diet exercise, or some combination of these ,you can cut your risk of complication by anywhere from one third to three quarters. If you’re diagnosed before you develop complications’ it’s possible
To sidestep diabetes-related health problems completely sometime with lifestyle changes alone. Meanwhile, technoleogy for monitoring your own blood sugar continues to improve and is now remarkably convenient and relatively pain-free.
Diet and exercise are powerful tools for lowering blood sugar so powerful, in fact, insulin. And using these “power” tools is easier than ever before. Recent research into how foods affect blood sugar has shown that your diet need not be as restrictive as experts once believed. It can include virtually any food you like, as long as you watch your calorie intake. On the exercise side, it turns out that your workouts don’t have to be as vigorous as once thought. Even short health.
Earlier generations of diabetes medications have been bolstered by a growing roster of newer drugs that tackle the disease in a variety of ways. In many cases, you can combine these drugs to take advantage of their different modes of operation. The fact that there are also several varieties of insulin (which regulates the body’s use of blood sugar) gives you more flexibility in finding a regimen that matches your lifestyle.
Do you Have Diabetes?
Its human nature not to look for problems if they haven’t already found you which explains why between one third and one half of people with diabetes don’t know they have it.
According to the American College of Endocrinology, half of all people who finally go to their doctor to be tested have already developed some degree of complications. How can you recognize when diabetes is at your door? There are three fundamental ways.
Figure your risk factors.
The first thing to look at is whether any element of your background makes you more likely than the general population to develop diabetes. Among the most important factors to evaluate are:
If anyone in your immediate family a parent, sibling, or grandparent has had diabetes, you have a higher chance of developing the disease yourself. The extent of the risk depends on the type of diabetes and how closely related you are to the person who has it (the risk is highest among identical twins).
The most common type of diabetes (called type 2) is most prevalent in African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans. The other major form is most prevalent in Caucasians, especially those with backgrounds in northern European regions, such as Scandinavia.
Being overweight significantly raises your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. That makes it one of the most important risk factors because it’s one you can control.
Type 1 usually occurs in children or teens (it’s rarely diagnosed after age 30). Type 2 generally develops after age 40, although it’s becoming more common in younger people.
Keep a sharp eye for symptoms
While the signs of diabetes can be subtle at first, they’re not impossible to pick up on. The longer diabetes progressed, the more likely symptoms are to become obvious and troublesome. The hallmarks of diabetes are:
Tests for diabetes are easy they involve nothing more painful than a finger prick to draw a drop of your blood (although some tests require that you prepare by fasting ahead of time). It’s best to see a doctor for a full evaluation if your want to nail down your diagnosis: blood screenings at health fairs or malls provide less accurate results than those your doctor can give you. If your results fall short of a diagnosis but your background suggest you’re at risk, schedule a return visit at least every year to make sure nothing’ changed.
What you can expect
When you’re diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor will need to cover a lot ground in a short time. In fact. In fact, he’ll want to know virtually everything about you: eating patterns, weight history, blood pressure, medications you’re taking, whether you smoke or drink, how satisfying you find sex, how many kids you’ve had, any family history of heart disease, and any treatment you’ve received for other problems, including endocrine and eating disorders. If you’re a woman, you’ll woman, you’ll even be asked about your children’s development. Your doctor isn’t prying. All of this information has a bearing on your condition and the management program you’ll eventually follow.
Your doctor will also want to do a thorough physical exam, including a cardiac workup that may involve an electrocardiogram (which records the heart’s electrical activity) and a careful look at your mouth, feet, eye, abdomen, skin, and thyroid gland. You’ll have a battery of tests, including a blood-lipid test for cholesterol (among other things) and at least two different blood-sugar tests one that shows what your blood sugar is right now and the other, what it has averaged for the past two to three month.
Where Do you Stand?
Your doctor looks at a lot of variables when deciding how to treat your diabetes, but he’ll pay special attention to one in particular: your blood-sugar readings. If your blood sugar is sky-high in your initial assessment, you may go straight to drug and insulin therapy until your numbers are brought down. If you have type 2 diabetes, once your blood sugar has stabilized and you begin making lifestyle changes, you may be able to go off insulin and other medications.
One of the numbers your doctor will zero in on is your fasting blood-glucose level, a key test of blood sugar. While other tests also need to be considered and each case must be managed individually, you can roughly anticipate your options depending on what your fasting blood-glucose levels are (numbers are expressed as milligrams per deciliter). As a general guideline:
FASTING BLOOD-GLUCOSE LEVELS AND LIKELY TREATMENT
Prediabetes - 110-125 - Diet Exercise
Diabetes - 126-140 - Diet Exercise
Diabetes - 150-200 - Diet Exercise Drugs occasional insulin
Diabetes - 200+ - Diet Exercise Drugs or 24-hour insulin coverage