Monday, April 8, 2024

What Happens When You Are First Diagnosed With Diabetes

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What Can Happen If Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms Go Undetected

Diabetes symptoms | Signs of all types of diabetes | Diabetes UK

If the symptoms of type 1 diabetes go undetected, it can be dangerous to your health. You may not know to seek care, so you wont receive a diagnosis. Without a diagnosis, you wont receive the supplemental insulin treatment that your body needs to manage blood sugar levels.

If type 1 diabetes goes completely untreated, it can be life-threatening and eventually lead to a diabetic coma, organ failure, or even death.

Get Help From Your Diabetes Healthcare Team

Getting emotional and psychological support from your healthcare team is part of your 15 healthcare essentials. This is the care and support you’re entitled to when you have diabetes.

Its important to start getting this care as soon as youre diagnosed with diabetes.

Taking the following steps with your healthcare team will help you to come to terms with your diagnosis and get the right support:

  • write down your thoughts, feelings and questions before your appointment
  • ask someone you trust to go with you to your appointments
  • if a carer or someone close to you comes to your appointment with you, ask them to make notes so you dont have to worry about remembering every detail
  • be honest about your health and how youre really feeling
  • get the information you need, at your own pace
  • understand your new responsibilities and the part you play in managing your diabetes
  • dont be afraid to ask for help if youre struggling with any of the impacts of diabetes, however small or big the issue feels.

Take a look at our information on meeting your healthcare team and how to get the most out of your appointments with them.

Treating Type 1 Diabetes

It’s important that diabetes is diagnosed as early as possible. If left untreated, type-1 diabetes is a life-threatening condition. It’s essential that treatment is started early.

Diabetes can’t be cured, but treatment aims to keep your blood glucose levels as normal as possible and control your symptoms, to prevent health problems developing later in life.

If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, you’ll be referred to a diabetes care team for specialist treatment and monitoring.

As your body can’t produce insulin, you’ll need regular insulin injections to keep your glucose levels normal. You’ll be taught how to do this and how to match the insulin you inject to the food you eat, taking into account your blood glucose level and how much exercise you do.

Insulin injections come in several different forms, with each working slightly differently. You’ll most likely need a combination of different insulin preparations.

Insulin is given to some patients by a continuous infusion of fast acting insulin . This is where a small device constantly pumps insulin into your bloodstream through a plastic tube that’s inserted under the skin with a needle.

There are alternatives to insulin injections and pumps, but they’re only suitable for a small number of patients. They are:

Read more about diagnosing diabetes and treating type 1 diabetes

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Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Cured

Type 2 diabetes cannot be cured, but people with the condition may be able to manage their type 2 diabetes through lifestyle changes and, if needed, diabetes medications to control blood sugar levels.

Its also emerging that some people who are overweight or obese can put their type 2 diabetes into remission by losing a substantial amount of weight, especially early in their diagnosis. Their blood sugar measurements return to healthy levels below the diabetes range. Its not a permanent solution, and diabetes could come back, so it needs to be maintained. However, many people were still in remission 2 years later. This should only be tried under the supervision of your doctor.

Support For Family And Carers

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Most things are easier to face with help from friends and family. But diabetes can put a strain on relationships. It can help to listen to, and communicate with, everyone in the family including children.

Sometimes it can be hard supporting a person with diabetes, even if its your partner, child or close family member. You could be worried about them or trying hard to encourage them to make lifestyle changes.

You may need support for your emotions as well. Remember, all of Diabetes UKs support services are also there for you.

If you are working you may need time off to support someone with diabetes. Find out your employers policy on care leave. Talk to your manager about the condition and how youre helping, so they understand how important it is. Discuss options for flexible working if you need to give long-term support.

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Symptoms Of Undiagnosed Diabetes

There are many different types of diabetes, but most undiagnosed diabetes cases are likely to be type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90% to 95% of all diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association notes that type 2 diabetes often goes undiagnosed for many years because hyperglycemia develops gradually and, during early stages, is frequently not severe enough to be recognized by classic diabetes symptoms.

Prediabetes , the precursor to type 2 diabetes, can take years to develop and be present without symptoms. If there are symptoms, they may be ignored or mistaken.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body mistakenly attacks the beta cells of the pancreas, ultimately leading to absolute insulin deficiency. Insulin is the hormone responsible for letting glucose enter the cells so that it can be utilized for energy.

In children, type 1 diabetes symptoms can come on more suddenly, while in adults the symptoms may not present as routinely. Type 1 diabetes in children is often characterized by rapid weight loss, excessive thirst, and urination.

A person with type 1 diabetes who is not treated can develop a very serious condition called diabetic ketoacidosis . Oftentimes, newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes occurs when a person is experiencing DKA. The ADA states that approximately half of children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are in DKA.

Register With The National Diabetes Services Scheme

If youve been diagnosed with diabetes you are eligible to register with the NDSS. Registration is free and gives you access to subsidised products, educational events, and advice via the NDSS Helpline 1800 637 700.

To register with the NDSS:

  • Complete the registration form, which you can download it here, or ask your doctor, or pharmacy for a printed copy.
  • Have the form certified by your doctor, endocrinologist or credentialed diabetes educator.
  • Email the form to , or mail it to the address provided on the form.
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    Why Are Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms Different In Children And Adults

    For reasons that still arent totally clear, the onset of T1D is much slower in adults, often taking months for symptoms to fully manifest, whereas in children, it may only take days. High blood-sugar levels are present for longer in the bloodstream of adults, meaning that there is more opportunity for long-term damage to organs and bodily systems. For instance, untreated high blood-sugar over several months time can lead to nerve and kidney damage, which is a complication often found in adults who have recently received a type 1 diabetes diagnosis, but hardly ever in children.

    You Think About Food Differently

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    A diabetes diagnosis often leads to a shift in the way you think about food. The primary way to manage Type 2 diabetes is through diet and lifestyle changes. As physicians, we explain to patients the importance of dietary changes to help keep blood sugar within a target range.

    In the past you may have eaten a bowl of ice cream without giving it a second thought. After a diabetes diagnosis, youre likely to stop and think about how that ice cream influences your blood sugar and whether having it fits within your wellness goals.

    Thinking of food as fuel and considering how each food or meal will impact your blood sugar is a healthy approach to managing diabetes.

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    What Causes Gestational Diabetes

    Gestational diabetes occurs when your body cant make enough insulin during your pregnancy. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that acts like a key to let blood sugar into the cells in your body for use as energy.

    During pregnancy, your body makes more hormones and goes through other changes, such as weight gain. These changes cause your bodys cells to use insulin less effectively, a condition called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance increases your bodys need for insulin.

    All pregnant women have some insulin resistance during late pregnancy. However, some women have insulin resistance even before they get pregnant. They start pregnancy with an increased need for insulin and are more likely to have gestational diabetes.

    About 50% of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes, but there are steps you can take to prevent it. Talk to your doctor about how to lower your risk and how often to have your blood sugar checked to make sure youre on track.

    Do I Have Other Treatment Options For My Type 1 Diabetes

    The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has played an important role in developing artificial pancreas technology. An artificial pancreas replaces manual blood glucose testing and the use of insulin shots. A single system monitors blood glucose levels around the clock and provides insulin or a combination of insulin and glucagon automatically. The system can also be monitored remotely, for example by parents or medical staff.

    In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a type of artificial pancreas system called a hybrid closed-loop system. This system tests your glucose level every 5 minutes throughout the day and night through a continuous glucose monitor, and automatically gives you the right amount of basal insulin, a long-acting insulin, through a separate insulin pump. You still need to manually adjust the amount of insulin the pump delivers at mealtimes and when you need a correction dose. You also will need to test your blood with a glucose meter several times a day. Talk with your health care provider about whether this system might be right for you.

    The illustration below shows the parts of a type of artificial pancreas system.

    Starting in late 2016 and early 2017, the NIDDK has funded several important studies on different types of artificial pancreas devices to better help people with type 1 diabetes manage their disease. The devices may also help people with type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes.

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    Having Your Blood Glucose Levels Checked

    You’ll be measuring your blood glucose yourself every day, to check your levels.

    Your GP or diabetes care team will also carry out a different blood test every two to six months, called the HbA1c test.

    This gives a clearer idea of how well your treatment plan is working, by measuring how stable your glucose levels have been over the past 6-12 weeks.

    It measures the amount of haemoglobin, which is the oxygen-carrying substance in red blood cells that has glucose attached to it. A high HbA1c level may indicate that your blood glucose level is consistently high and that your diabetes treatment plan needs to be altered.

    The ideal HbA1c target for people with diabetes is below 53 mmol/mol.

    What Are The Treatments For Type 1 Diabetes

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    Type 1 diabetes must be treated with . To do this, a person with type 1 diabetes must inject insulin under their skin where it can be absorbed into their bloodstream to help glucose access the cells that require it. Insulin cant be taken in pill form because the digestive juices in the stomach would destroy the insulin before it could work.

    Treating T1D is all about the amount and timing of insulin, as well as the best way to get the right dose of this essential hormone to assure that the glucose circulating in your blood is able to be properly absorbed by your body. Having too much glucose in your body can cause serious complications as can having too little glucose in your blood .

    Insulin can be delivered by:

    • Injections with a syringe

    All of these methods deliver insulin subcutaneouslyusually in the fatty area of the abdomenbut each has different advantages and drawbacks. Someone using a syringe to inject insulin might prefer the ease that comes with a quick draw and delivery, rather than learning how to use a pump, which can be cumbersome, expensive, and sometimes confusing to learn .

    A pen is similar to a syringe injection except that the insulin is prefilledno measuring required. In addition to insulin, other medications, such as metformin, may also be used to help reduce risk and manage type 1 diabetes.

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    How Is Diabetes Diagnosed

    If your doctor suspects you have diabetes, you will be asked to have a blood test to check your glucose levels.

    This may include:

    • Fasting glucose test testing your glucose levels after fasting for 8 hours.
    • Oral glucose tolerance test this involves drinking a sugary drink , then testing your glucose levels 1 to 2 hours later to assess the effect.
    • Random blood glucose test a blood test taken without fasting.
    • HbA1c test this test doesnt require fasting as it doesnt test glucose levels directly, but looks for a by-product in your red blood cells that shows how your body manages glucose over time.

    If youre pregnant, your doctor will screen for gestational diabetes as part of standard antenatal testing.

    When Do People First Experience Symptoms Of Type 1 Diabetes

    The majority of people with T1D first experience symptoms in , typically between the ages of 4 and 14. A small number, however, develop symptoms in infancy or toddlerhood.

    An even smaller subset of people with type 1 diabetes will be diagnosed as adults, after the age of 20. The onset of type 1 diabetes is slower in adults, so they might experience mild symptoms for a longer period of time before diagnosis than children typically do.

    Type 1 diabetes symptoms in children look similar to the symptoms in toddlers and babies, with a few notable differences. Mood swings and irritability, for example, can affect anyone with T1D, but this common symptom might be mistaken for an ordinary temper tantrum in preverbal toddlers, or as colic in younger babies.

    Type 1 diabetes symptoms in babies and toddlers include weight loss and stunted growth a condition known as failure to thrive which is rare in adults. Failure to thrive might be the only noticeable symptom of T1D in a baby or toddler, since older children can clue parents in to symptoms such as increased urination or blurred vision.

    One important thing we need to point out is that type 1 diabetes is often associated with children, but it happens to adults as well, says diabetes specialist Elena Christofides, MD. Adult-onset, or late-onset type 1 diabetes symptoms look slightly different and can be harder to recognize and diagnose as a result.

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    Where Can I Get Support For Type 1 Diabetes

    Theres no other disease where the management is so much in the hands of the patient, says Dr. Halperin. You cant just get a prescription and take a pill once a day. It involves a lot of hard work on behalf of the person with diabetes and their family. Because of this, a support system is crucial. After your internist and endocrinologist, here additional resources for help:

    You Adopt A Healthier Lifestyle

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    Patients newly diagnosed with diabetes learn the importance adopting a healthier lifestyle has on living well with diabetes. Things like drinking too much alcohol and smoking make it harder to control blood sugar even when youre taking other steps.

    People diagnosed with diabetes are more likely to quit smoking and cut back on alcohol intake than people who do not have diabetes. Adopting other healthy habits, such as exercising more, eating more vegetables, and limiting intake of processed sugar go a long way in helping keep your blood sugar levels in check.

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    More Severe Symptoms Of Untreated Type 1 Diabetes

    When type 1 diabetes goes untreated, it can lead to organ failure, coma, and even death. This happens because the body can no longer turn glucose into fuel, and it starts burning fat, which then produces ketones in the blood and urine.

    A small amount of ketones arent dangerous and can usually be detected if a person has been fasting or is on a low-carbohydrate diet. But too many ketones can actually change the bloods acidity and result in a life-threatening condition called .

    If you have one or more of these symptoms contact your doctor.

    Symptoms of type 1 diabetes tend to look different in children than adults, according to Dr. Christofides.

    If You’ve Just Been Diagnosed With Diabetes Can Be A Huge Shock And You Might Be Finding It Difficult To Come To Terms With Its Important To Know That Whatever Youre Feeling Is Completely Normal And You Are Not Alone

    Whether you have just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, or whether youve lived with diabetes for a long time, you may need support for your emotional wellbeing. Perhaps you feel stressed, depressed, or burnt out. The people around you can feel all of this too.

    In the weeks and months after youve been diagnosed with diabetes, you and the people close to you will have lots of questions about your condition and what this will mean for your future.

    With so much to think about and so many changes to make, you may feel like you’re not coping with diabetes and need some support.

    This is where we can help. We have advice to help you cope with being diagnosed with diabetes and we can show you where to go for more support.

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