Understanding Diabetes And Blood Sugar
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition characterized by hyperglycemia also known as high blood sugar levels. Diabetes is caused by the bodys inability to create or absorb the proper amount of insulin, a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in the blood, which is called glucose.
There are three common forms of diabetes:
Type 1: Most often occurring children, whose bodies create little to no insulin, Type 1 diabetes forces people to rely on insulin injections that move the bodys sugar, or glucose, from the bloodstream to the cells. Only 5 percent of diabetes patients have Type 1.
Type 2: The most common form of diabetes has historically occurred in adults though in recent years an increase in pediatric diagnoses has alarmed health care providers. People with Type 2 diabetes have developed an insulin resistance, meaning the body does not absorb insulin easily. Their high blood sugar levels can go undetected for years if symptoms such as increased thirst, frequent urination, headaches and fatigue arent reported early on.
Prediabetes: This condition indicates an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes during adulthood. Patients diagnosed with prediabetes have high blood sugar or polyuria . However, the symptoms of prediabetes can be easily confused with other health complications, so its critical for adults to get tested.
The Social Determinants Of Self
The recommendations for diabetes management are complex and demanding adherence to proper health management has been alarmingly low in many studies. However, this isnt because patients arent willing or motivated to practice self-care, according to Kirkland. They simply lack the resources.
The National Center for Education Statistics sites several social determinants that put patients at risk for low adherence to their medical treatment plans. According to Kirkland, some patients might experience a variety of these social determinants at once, which causes high stress that puts them at increased risk and, therefore, in need of greater support from their medical providers.
Education: People with low academic achievement often have low health literacy, meaning they have a harder time reading and understanding medical information.
Housing status: Without stable access to shelter, patients are unable to store their medication safely. Other patients who live in apartment buildings or urban neighborhoods are less likely to have access to safe outdoor spaces for exercise or an accessible kitchen in which to cook their own meals.
Food security: Living in an area without regular access to a grocery store makes it difficult to find healthy food that has valuable nutrients, like vitamins and minerals. In 2016, there were 6 million households that didnt know where their next meal would come from.
Goals Of Mnt That Apply To Specific Situations Include The Following:
For youth with type 1 diabetes, provide adequate energy to ensure normal growth and development integrate insulin regimens into usual eating and physical activity habits.
For youth with type 2 diabetes, facilitate changes in eating and physical activity habits that reduce insulin resistance and improve metabolic status.
For pregnant and lactating women, provide adequate energy and nutrients needed for optimal outcomes.
For older adults, provide for the nutritional and psychosocial needs of an aging individual.
For individuals treated with insulin or insulin secretagogues, provide self-management education for treatment of hypoglycemia, acute illnesses, and exercise-related blood glucose problems.
For individuals at risk for diabetes, decrease risk by encouraging physical activity and promoting foods choices that facilitate moderate weight loss or at least prevent weight gain.
Achieving nutrition-related goals requires a coordinated team effort that includes the person with diabetes. Because of the complexity of nutrition issues, it is recommended that a registered dietitian, knowledgeable and skilled in implementing nutrition therapy into diabetes management and education, is the team member who provides MNT. However, it is essential that all team members are knowledgeable about nutrition therapy and are supportive of the person with diabetes who needs to make lifestyle changes.
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Ways You Can Help Someone With Diabetes
Theres a good chance that someone you know has diabetes. It is a disease that affects more than 30 million people in the USabout 9% of the population. With those numbers, youd think we would be more accustomed to hearing about and supporting people with diabetes. But in fact, they often face misunderstanding and stigma. People with diabetes are often exposed to mistaken notions that diabetes is not a serious illness and can be easily managed with lifestyle changes such as diet or activity changes. When told, explicitly or implicitly, that having diabetes is a sign of personal weakness and failure, people with diabetes may suffer from guilt, shame, embarrassment, and isolation. Such feelings are reported not only by adults but also by children living with diabetes and their parents.
The damage inflicted by stigma goes far beyond the emotional toll. People with diabetes who reported feeling stigmatized have been shown to have poorer diabetes control, including higher A1C levels, a higher body mass index , and a higher rate of self-reported uncontrolled diabetes.
Lets do a better job of supporting our friends and family members living with this condition. Here are some ways you can combat stigma and support the people you know with diabetes.
Other Tests For Your Diabetes
Urine Tests: You may need to test your urine or blood for ketones when you are sick or if your blood sugar is over 240 before eating a meal. Your body makes ketones when there is not enough insulin in your blood. They can make you very sick.
You can buy strips for testing urine ketones at a drugstore. Also, some blood glucose meters can detect ketones with specialized strips. Your doctor or diabetes educator will show you how to use testing monitors correctly.
Call your doctor right away if you find ketones when you test. You may have something called ketoacidosis. If not treated, it can cause death.
Signs of ketoacidosis are:
- A sweet smell on the breath
Ketoacidosis is more likely to happen in people with insulin-dependent diabetes.
The Hemoglobin A1c Test: This shows what your average blood sugar was for the past 3 months. It shows how much sugar is sticking to your red blood cells. The doctor does this test to see what level your blood sugar is most of the time.
To do the test, the doctor or nurse takes a sample of your blood. The blood is tested in a laboratory. The laboratory sends the results to your doctor.
See your doctor for a hemoglobin A1c test every 3 months.
Keep Daily Records
Write down the results of your blood tests every day in a record book or notebook. You may also want to include what you eat, how you feel, and how much youâve exercised.
Things to write down every day in your notebook are:
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Be Open To The Kind Of Help They Want And Dont Judge
Each person with diabetes has his or her own way to manage the condition. Its best to offer support to that person in a way they choose. Its also OK if that person doesnt want your help. Ask how you can be there for him or her.
Above all, dont be critical. People with diabetes have good and bad days just like everyone else, and they dont have to be perfect.
Maybe they do want someone to help them be accountable, or maybe they just want you to be their friend and not their coach or their nag. I would take the clues from them, Dr. Kirkman says.
Tips For Providing Diabetics With Emotional Support
Whenconsidering how to help someone with diabetes, in many cases, the mostimportant support is emotional support. Here are some things you can do:
- Learn about diabetes. Read the materials provided by theirdoctor. Do your own online research. Attend diabetes education classes withthem. The more you know about the disease, the more effective you can be astheir ally in managing it.
- Practice patience. Especially for people newly diagnosedwith diabetes, it takes a while to get comfortable with the diabetesmedications, blood glucose testing, etc.
- Join them in lifestyle changes. If the person will be modifying theireating and exercise habits, it helps to have someone making those changes withthem.
- Verbalize your support. You know youd do anything to help your loved one,but do they? Remind them periodically that they can lean on you, as needed.
- Be good to yourself, too. You arent doing the person any favors if youget so caught up in assisting them that you fail to take care of yourself.
Followthese recommendations and very quickly youll know exactly how to support someonewith diabetes.
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Helping Someone Keep Active
Moving more is good for everyone but has extra benefits for people with diabetes. Find out more about helping someone with diabetes keep active.
Taking up an activity together is one way to support them. We know that exercise can be difficult, especially if your loved one has other mobility issues so we’ve got free gentle exercises, classes, planners and even physical activity advisors you can call. You’ll find all this on our exercise resources page.
Referral For Diabetes Management
For a variety of reasons, some people with diabetes and their health care providers do not achieve the desired goals of treatment . In such instances, additional actions suggested include enhanced diabetes self-management education, comanagement with a diabetes team, change in pharmacological therapy, initiation of or increase in self-monitoring of blood glucose , more frequent contact with the patient, and referral to an endocrinologist.
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What Are The Treatments For Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is always treated with insulin, either via injections or an insulin pump.
Type 2 diabetes treatment can include changes to diet, physical activity, weight loss , oral medications, as well as insulin and non-insulin injectable medications.
If a person has Type 2 diabetes and goes on to require insulin this does not mean they now have Type 1 diabetes.
The general aim of treatment of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is to maintain blood glucose levels as close to the non-diabetes range as possible. This reduces the risk of the person developing diabetes-related complications. Diabetes UK has more information about target blood glucose levels. Towards the end of life, it becomes less important to keep to the target levels.
Watch How To Help Someone Who Is Having A Diabetic Emergency
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a medical condition that affects blood sugar levels. Normally, peoples bodies maintain the ideal blood sugar levels automatically. When a person has diabetes, their body fails to maintain the blood sugar balance, so they need to manage it through diet, tablets or insulin injections.
Sometimes, a person who has diabetes can suffer diabetic emergencies, which require first aid.
What are the signs and symptoms of a diabetic emergency?
Signs and symptoms vary, but common ones include:
What happens in a diabetic emergency?
In most cases, the persons blood sugar levels become too low. This is called hypoglycaemia. It can happen when the person has missed a meal or exercised too much. If left untreated, a diabetic emergency can become very serious.
What should I give them to eat or drink?
You can give them sugary drinks such as cola, lemonade, fruit juice and isotonic sports drinks, and sweet foods such as jelly beans, chocolate and sugar cubes. The person may also be carrying glucose gel or tablets. Avoid giving them a diet drink, as it wont have any sugar in it and will not help them.
But some people have high blood sugar levels, so wont giving them sugary drinks or food make their diabetic emergency worse?
Some people do have high blood sugar levels, but giving them sugary drinks or food is unlikely to do any harm.
How will I know if this is a long-term condition for the person?
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Learn First Aid For Someone Who Is Having A Diabetic Emergency
1. Give them something sweet to eat or a non-diet drink.
If someone has a diabetic emergency, their blood sugar levels can become too low. This can make them collapse.Giving them something sugary will help raise their blood sugar levels and improve their bodily function. Avoid giving them a diet drink, as it wont have any sugar in it and will not help them.
2. Reassure the person. Most people will gradually improve, but if in doubt, call 999.
If you cant call 999, get someone else to do it.
What’s My Friend Going Through
Diabetes. Sure, you’ve heard of it. But how much do you really know about what it’s like to live with it?
Teens with diabetes often say they feel isolated and alone. After all, it’s hard enough being a teenager with all the body changes and hormone surges dealing day-to-day with a health problem like diabetes can only make things harder. Having to test your blood sugar several times a day, keep tabs on what you eat, and give yourself insulin shots or other medicine is enough to make anyone feel self-conscious and different.
As a result, some people may want to pretend that their diabetes doesn’t exist. That’s not a good plan, because it usually leads to poorly controlled diabetes. And that can be dangerous to your friend’s health.
As a friend, your understanding and acceptance are very important. The more you know about diabetes, the less self-conscious and alone your friend is likely to feel. And that’s good for anyone’s health!
Why Take Care Of Your Diabetes
Taking care of yourself and your diabetes can help you feel good today and in the future. When your blood sugar is close to normal, you are likely to:
- have more energy
Ask your health care team what type of diabetes you have.
Learn where you can go for support.
Learn how caring for your diabetes helps you feel good today and in the future.
Caring For Someone With Diabetes Fact Sheet
This fact sheet is available in two formats.
You can download and print out the PDF version.
Or you can read it as a website page below.
Caring for a family member or friend who has diabetes can be rewarding but also challenging. You may feel worried, frustrated or confused about how to best support the person in managing their diabetes. Its very common to feel this way. You may also be balancing this care with other demands, such as work, study or family. Taking care of your own health and well-being is important. This fact sheet will give you some tips about what you can do to support your relative or friend with diabetes, and how you can take care of yourself.
Its important to remember that the person with diabetes isnt the only person going through a tough time and not the only person who has frustrations. I think thats important. A lot of people forget that and a lot of people forget that they need to look after themselves as well.
Josh, 38, husband of person with type 1 diabetes
Family and friends play an important role in helping a person to manage their diabetes. Often, they offer practical support . They also offer emotional support .
Supporting someone during times of need can be a positive experience. However, diabetes is a lifelong 24/7 condition. So, there are likely to be times when the ongoing caring role affects your own well-being. Youre not alone. Its common to feel:
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Friends Family & Diabetes
One of the best ways to predict how well someone will manage their diabetes: how much support they get from family and friends.
Daily diabetes care is a lot to handle, from taking meds, injecting insulin, and checking blood sugar to eating healthy food, being physically active, and keeping health care appointments. Your support can help make the difference between your friend or family member feeling overwhelmed or empowered.
Caring For Someone With Diabetes Towards The End Of Life
Please be aware – this information is for healthcare professionals. We also have information for the public.
You can use our My Learning form to reflect on how this page has helped with your continuing professional development.
Towards the end of life, keeping someones blood glucose levels in the target range becomes less of a priority. Its important to keep the person as comfortable as possible and look out for the signs of high blood glucose and low blood glucose . Get support from the GP or the specialist diabetes team, especially if the person needs medicines that may affect glucose levels, including high dose corticosteroids.
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A Blood Pressure Control
Hypertension is a common comorbidity of diabetes, affecting 2060% of people with diabetes, depending on age, obesity, and ethnicity. Hypertension is also a major risk factor for CVD and microvascular complications such as retinopathy and nephropathy. In type 1 diabetes, hypertension is often the result of underlying nephropathy. In type 2 diabetes, hypertension is likely to be present as part of the metabolic syndrome that is accompanied by high rates of CVD.
Randomized clinical trials have demonstrated the incontrovertible benefit of lowering blood pressure to < 140 mmHg systolic and < 80 mmHg diastolic in persons with diabetes . Epidemiologic analyses show that blood pressures > 120/80 mmHg are associated with increased cardiovascular event rates and mortality in persons with diabetes . Therefore, a target blood pressure goal of < 130/80 mmHg is reasonable if it can be safely achieved.
Although there are no well-controlled studies of diet and exercise in the treatment of hypertension in persons with diabetes, reducing sodium intake and body weight , avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, and increasing activity levels have been shown to be effective in reducing blood pressure in nondiabetic individuals . These nonpharmacological strategies may also positively affect glycemia and lipid control.