In 2015, it was reported that 30.3 million Americans had diabetes – almost 10% of the population. 7.2 million of those remained undiagnosed, highlighting the importance of identifying the symptoms and treating the condition appropriately.
There are two widely recognized types of diabetes, both unique in their treatment and symptoms. It is our belief that there is a certain stigma attached to the condition that has prevented conversation and resulted in a lack of treatment.
Therefore, we have provided the below guide as an overview of diabetes and the treatments for those affected.
What are the types of diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is also referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes. It is an autoimmune condition, caused by the body attacking its own pancreas with antibodies. Those affected cannot produce insulin internally as a likely result of a genetic trait or faulty beta cells in the pancreas. The condition is kept stable with insulin injected through the skin into fatty tissue.
On the other hand, type 2 diabetes is where the body either doesn't produce enough insulin or the cells are unreactive to it. This type is often linked to inactivity, being overweight, or having a family history of the condition. It can, however, be managed by healthy lifestyle choices that include diet and exercise.
While it is not guaranteed, people with type 2 diabetes do often need medication as well, especially if they are unable to reduce the effects with lifestyle changes alone. There is the option to purchase diabetes pills or medicines that you can inject under your skin. In extreme cases, you may require a multitude of medication to control your blood glucose – if you are hospitalized or pregnant for example.
The symptoms of diabetes include but are not limited to:
- Increased thirst and urination
- Poor blood circulation (numbness in the hands and feet)
- Increased hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Sores that do not heal
- Blurred vision
While this list is not exhaustive, it covers the primary associated symptoms of diabetes. However, in the case of type 1, these symptoms can start quickly and develop in a matter of weeks. Type 2 diabetes symptoms often establish themselves slowly and so incrementally that they remain unnoticed.
In fact, one of the main reasons why the condition remains unidentified in many sufferers is because type 2 diabetes has actually been known to present no diabetes symptoms. There are some individuals who don’t find out they have diabetes until related conditions such as heart trouble or blurred vision begin to form.
What causes the diabetes condition?
As mentioned earlier, type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system attacks and damages the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. It is believed by researchers that type 1 is caused by genes and environmental factors, such as viruses, that might trigger the condition.
Again, type 2 is linked with those with unhealthy lifestyles. You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are not physically active and are overweight or obese. Extra weight sometimes causes insulin resistance and is a common cause of type 2 diabetes. This is where muscle, liver and fat cells do not effectively use insulin well, and your body then needs more to help glucose enter cells. At first, the pancreas makes further insulin, but it cannot sustain this over time. As a result, blood glucose levels begin to rise and cause additional health concerns.
What are the typical treatments for diabetes?
Obviously, insulin plays a major role in the treatment of diabetes. Healthy lifestyles always offer a benefit, but it is important to recognize your specific needs. You need to understand how well medicine will control your blood sugar levels. This weighed against your health condition, medication cost and lifestyle will likely determine what medicine you take.
Those affected by type 1 will need to take insulin repeatedly by injection or pump. This needs to become a routine for those with the condition as the hormone must be produced several times during the day, including with meals.
For those with type 2, there are plenty of suggestions for a healthy lifestyle and keeping your glucose levels at target range:
Balanced diet – Don’t worry about being unable to enjoy the same foods as you are used to – typically, the majority of your diet will just need readjusting. Having smaller portions or indulging yourself less frequently will contribute to a healthy diabetes diet. Eat food with healthy fats for instance: nuts and seeds, fish and avocado, and olive oil as opposed to butter.
Reduce certain fats – Limit your intake of fried foods or other saturated fats. Lower your salt intake where possible and restrict yourself from sweets and ice creams. These will all support your journey through weight loss and the fight back against type 2 diabetes.
Eat timely – If you are restricted by your medication, you may be required to eat at certain times during the day. Those affected by type 1 will likely take a ‘mealtime’ insulin dose, making their schedule more flexible. However, for those who use certain medication, their carbohydrate levels must be fixed.
Exercise – The majority of physical activity will benefit your body and lead to safe weight loss. Those that are affected by diabetes tend to have nerve damage to their feet or can sometimes suffer from reduced vision. Walking regularly is a recommended method of keeping active with a low chance of injury.
Whether you require support for your diabetes diet or guidance in your home-testing, please get in touch. At Medix Pharmacy, our consultants are equipped to advise you on whatever queries you may have about your condition. If you live with diabetes and would like to speak to a member of our team about your options, contact us today.