Diabetes in the US has skyrocketed in the last several years mainly due to poor dietary management, obesity, lack of exercise and not seeing their primary care physician. Diabetes can affect anyone young and old from all walks of life. In fact today, more than 30 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes. Worldwide it has affected more than 422 million people have diabetes.
In this blog I would like to give you a short course on Diabetes information. We can beat diabetes. Yes diabetes can be managed and still you can still enjoy life. But what you need right know is to take action by learning about it and how to manage it. Also the relationship of diabetes and COVID -19 in brief. You see education is the key to unlocking the truth about this disease. Later on I will show the best blood glucose monitors that I recommend to monitor your blood sugar below this article.
What is Diabetes?
In simple terms Diabetes or high blood sugar is a metabolic disorder when there is too much sugar or glucose in the blood. Insulin a hormone secreted by the pancreas regulates the sugar we eat in our food. When your blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin.
Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy. If there is no insulin or too little insulin it spills in to the blood causing a rise in blood sugar levels.
What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas fails to secrete insulin due to an autoimmune process where the the autoimmune system attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas. Around 5-10% of people have this this type. Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in the younger years. In this type of diabetes you will need to get insulin shots in order to live.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body is resistant to insulin or does not use insulin well. Around 90-95% of people have this and is the most common. Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed later in life. You may not have symptoms and not know it until you are tested.
Prediabetes is a health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Approximately 88 million American adults—more than 1 in 3 have prediabetes. It can lead to Type 2 diabetes without lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. There maybe damage to heart, blood vessels and kidneys that are already starting.
Gestational diabetes occurs for the first time during pregnancy. During pregnancy higher levels of hormones secreted during pregnancy can interfere with insulin release. The body can’t make enough insulin so as to control the sugar in the blood so the sugar level rises. The good thing about this is that it goes away after the pregnancy but for women with preexisting diabetes it will not go away after delivery.
Symptoms of High Blood Sugar
- Increase hunger
- Increase thirst
- Increase urination
- Weight loss
- Numbness of the hand and feet
- Blurry vision
- Dry skin
- Sores that heal slowly
Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar
Complications of Diabetes
- Heart disease – increase blood pressure, stroke and hardening of the arteries
- Eye damage – diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, blindness
- Nerve damage – tingling, numbness, burning or pain occurring at the feet
- Kidney damage or failure
- Hearing impairment
- Susceptibility to skin infections – bacterial
- Sleep apnea – in Type 2 diabetes
Relationship of COVID -19 and Diabetes – Latest information
According the American Diabetes Association – “There is not enough data to show whether people are more likely to get COVID-19 than the general population”. If you have good blood sugar management and live a healthy lifestyle then the risk is lower but if you have contacted COVID-19, have poorly managed sugar control and have coexisting medical issues like heart disease, kidney disease, lung problems (COPD), low immunity or age 70 and above then your risk is higher dying from complications.
COVID -19 symptoms to watch out for are a fever of 100.4 degrees Farenheight, shortness of breath and dry cough. If you have these then call your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room. There is still much to be learned from as more information is learned about COVID – 19 in the next couple of months. I will update this blog as needed.
Management of Diabetes
Managing diabetes will take some discipline in the person as far as controlling the rise in blood sugar. In a nutshell living a healthy lifestyle will far do more good in managing diabetes. With this in mind longevity can be increased if done the proper way with the advice of your doctor, nurse, certified diabetic educator, registered dietitian and of course family support will go along way in managing this metabolic disease.
Ways to Manage Diabetes
- Daily exercise – at least 30 minutes per day. Check with your doctor first.
- Take prescribed medications
- Proper diet – a well balanced diet, control carbohydrate intake, low cholesterol and fat intake, avoid sugary foods
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol
- Monitor blood pressure
- Monitor blood sugar
- See your doctor – see your doctor for physical exam and optometrist for eye exam
- Keep vaccines up to date – Pneumonia, Flu and Hepatitis B
- Manage stress – deep breathing exercises, visual imagery, exercise
- Check your feet – high blood sugar can reduce the blood flow and damage nerves in the feet
Diagnosis of Diabetes
Usually when you go for a physical exam and if your doctor suspects that you may have diabetes or family history he will order a blood test called Hemoglobin A1C (HgA1c) which is the average level blood sugar in the last 90 days. The normal is less than 7% but anything above it you maybe prediabetic and prone to Type 2 diabetes. When glucose builds up in your blood, it binds to the hemoglobin in your red blood cells. The A1c test measures how much glucose is bound. Hemoglobin is the protein found in red blood cells.
Fasting blood sugar test measures blood sugar after an overnight fast. A fasting blood sugar result of 99 mg/dl or lower is normal, 100-125 mg/dl indicates you have prediabetes and 126mg/dl or higher means you have diabetes.
Glucose Tolerance Test measures blood sugar before and after you drink a liquid that contains glucose. It also involves fasting the night before and measures your sugar at 1 hour, 2 hours and 3 hours. When it is measures at the end of 2 hours a reading of 140 mg/dl or below is normal, 140-199 mg/dl indicates you have prediabetes and 200 mg/dl or higher indicates you have diabetes.
Random Blood Sugar Test is a test where there is no fasting or drinking liquid glucose but just as the word states random. A blood sugar result of 200mg/dl or higher indicates you have diabetes. This is measured using a glucometer or a blood glucose monitor which I have 4 product recommendations below if you decide to purchase one.
As we I have indicated in the beginning that in the US alone diabetes has increased due to a unhealthy lifestyle. There are 4 types of diabetes – Type 1 diabetes which is insulin dependent, Type 2 which is insulin resistance which is the most common type, Prediabetes which can lead to Type 2 and Gestational diabetes that happens during pregnancy. Diabetes can best be managed with proper diet, exercise, medications and seeing your doctor on a regular basis. People who do not manage their diabetes well are prone to COVID -19. There is more information coming up and I will update this blog as new information arises. Diabetes can be diagnosed by the different blood test indicated above. The most common is HgA1C and Random Blood Sugar Test.
If you have learned from this blog, please leave a comment below as I would like to hear from your and answer your questions. Now I would like to explain to you about what Blood Glucose Monitors are and my 4 recommended brands below.
Blood Glucose Monitors
Choosing a blood glucose monitor or a glucometer should not be that hard to choose from. The things to look for when choosing a meter are insurance coverage (it may pay for certain brands and test strips), ease of use and maintenance (user friendly), special features (large readable illuminated LCD screens), storage of information (bluetooth capabilities and ability to share information on an app with your doctor) and customer support. So what is included when you buy a blood glucose monitor?
Basically a blood glucose monitor comes with a meter, test strips, lancet and control solutions. Guess what you got it right they are affordable, portable and mostly covered by insurance but again it depends on the brand it will cover that includes the test strip which you have to buy regularly. So the next question is what is the proper procedure?
First of all you simply wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol swab to sterilize the area then prick the sides of your finger (less painful) than the pad, wipe away the first drop of blood with a cotton ball. Then let blood drop into the test strip and wait for the reading usually within 5 seconds. Prior to all of these is to make sure your meter is properly calibrated using a control solution otherwise it will register inaccurate readings. Some blood glucose monitors do not need a control solution. Last question is how does the meter analyze the blood?
Blood glucose test strips contain a capillary that sucks the blood up into the test strip. It reaches an enzyme electrode where an electrical current is created. The charge passing through the electrode is proportional to the amount of glucose in the blood sample.
I congratulate you for getting this far. Now it is time to take action to know what you blood sugar level before it leads to complications I have discussed above. I am very simple myself and old fashioned but I am not a diabetic so I prefer the basic meters. But I will leave it up to you if you want to be high tech as they are available.
Since I am a Psychiatric RN I have seen how antipsychotic medications can elevate your blood sugar worse if you already have a preexisting diabetes diagnosis. Now you have the education. And now is time right now to take charge now by clicking my product recommendations below. Thank you for reading this blog. Again if you have any questions please leave a comment below and I would be more than happy to answer your concerns. Have a blessed day !
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