Introduction: When I was a little girl I remember going to my mother to tattletale on my grandmother. I told my mother that I seen my grandmother poking her finger to make herself bleed just so that she could get a cool band aid. At that time, I thought band aids were pretty awesome. Little did I know, my grandmother had other reasons for poking her finger. I now know that reason is diabetes. Today I will help inform you on what diabetes is, how it is diagnosed and what treatment options are available.
Body I. What is diabetes?
a. Definition: According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin. Glucose is a sugar that is the body’s main source of energy. When you eat, glucose from your food gets into your bloodstream. Your pancreas digests the food and makes a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps glucose get into your body’s cells and that is how your body gets the energy it needs.
b. Different types: There are 2 main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin dependent or juvenile diabetes, is when the pancreas can’t make insulin. The body still gets glucose from the food but glucose can’t get into the cells where it is needed. Type 2 diabetes is where the pancreas still makes insulin, but there is not enough of it working properly in the body. Both of these types cause glucose to remain in the blood causing blood sugar levels get high.
II. How it is diagnosed? Knowing what symptoms to watch out for and what tests you can take will help diagnose diabetes. a. Symptoms: Some of the symptoms of diabetes may seem harmless and therefore often go undiagnosed. According to the Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, some classic symptoms of diabetes are abnormal thirst, frequent urination, and unexplained weight loss. When sugar builds up in your blood, your kidneys have to work harder to filter and absorb the excess sugar. The kidneys can’t always keep up so the excess sugar is then excreted in your urine along with other fluids. This causes you to urinate frequently. Frequent urination will then leave you feeling dehydrated and you will become extremely thirsty. The weight loss can be explained because your body is getting rid of sugar which means it is getting rid of calories too. People who are overweight or those who have a family history of diabetes are more at risk of getting diabetes. In my family, both my grandmother and mother have diabetes. This means my sisters and I are at great risk.
b. Tests: There are a few common blood tests that doctors can use to determine if you have diabetes. One test is a fasting plasma glucose test. This test can only be done once you have fasted for at least eight hours, and then blood will be drawn and tested. Normal fasting blood sugar levels should be within 70 to 100 milligrams per deciliter. Another test you can take is a casual plasma glucose test and can be done at any time regardless of when you last ate. If your blood sugar levels are above 200 mg/dL then you may have diabetes. Once diagnosed with diabetes you must monitor your blood sugar levels daily with blood glucose meters. You must prick your finger with a lancet to draw out a tiny drop of blood, then place it on the meter strip and wait for your reading. Once you get your results you should document them in a journal to keep track of your levels. The results will help you and your doctor determine how to help keep your blood sugar under control.
III. Treatment options: Diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. I will talk about two treatment options that are available, medications and a healthy diet. a. Medications: David Matthews, author of ‘Diabetes’, states that many diabetics are able to keep their blood sugar levels under control with adequate medications. There are several oral sugar-lowering pills that can be prescribed. If you take a pill for diabetes, it is important you take it at the same time every day and be aware of what to do if you miss a pill. More severe cases of diabetes require insulin injections or insulin pumps. If you take insulin, you must learn how to inject yourself and how to store your insulin.
b. Healthy diet: There is no prevention for type 1 diabetes, but you can help prevent type 2 diabetes. Since type 2 diabetes is common in people that are overweight maintaining a healthy diet is important. A healthy diet should be consistent with plenty fruits, vegetables, and whole grains along with regular exercise. Also, being aware of what is in the food and drinks that you consume will make a big difference as well. Refrain from eating sugary drinks and candy.
In conclusion, I hope you now know more about what diabetes is, how it can be diagnosed and what treatment options are available. Unfortunately, my grandmother is now on dialysis because both of her kidneys stopped functioning properly. She has to go to dialysis 3 times a week and has been doing this for the past 10 years. My mother has to take medication daily and check her blood sugar regularly. My sisters and I have pledged to get regular checkups and watch what we eat so that we can minimize our chances of getting diabetes. I urge you to do the same. Thank you.