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Understanding Diabetes (Mellitus)

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which the level of glucose in the blood is high.
Glucose provides the body with energy and comes from various types of food we eat, mainly carbohydrates or starchy foods (like bread, rice and yam), sugar and other sweet foods. After eating, glucose levels in the blood increase and the body releases a hormone called INSULIN. Insulin regulates the glucose level in the blood to make sure it does not get too high or too low. If you have diabetes, you either produce too little insulin or resist its effects, glucose builds up often making you thirsty and needing to pass water frequently.

There are 3 main types of diabetes:

Type 1 (Insulin-dependent diabetes)
Usually develops in people under 40 and occurs if the body is unable to produce any insulin. The symptoms are obvious and develop suddenly. Treatment is with insulin injections, diet and exercise.

Type 2 (Non Insulin dependent / Adult-onset diabetes)
This is the most common type. It usually develops in people aged over 40 but may develop at any age. The symptoms are usually less obvious and develop relatively slowly. Some people don’t notice any symptoms for many years. It can often be treated successfully with a healthy balanced diet and exercise or with the addition of tablets or insulin injections.

Gestational Diabetes
Women who have no previous history of diabetes, who develop high blood sugar levels during pregnancy.

Who is at risk of getting diabetes?
Family history of diabetes.
Overweight / Obesity.
High blood pressure, heart disease, previous stroke.
Previous history of gestational diabetes.
Giving birth to a large baby (over 4 kg)

What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Frequent urination
Increased thirst
Extreme hunger
Blurred vision
Skin rashes
Unexplained weight loss
Fatigue
Recurrent boils
Slow Healing sore
Frequent infections.

Complications associated with diabetes:
Heart disease
Nerve damage
Kidney damage
Foot damage
Eye damage
Susceptibility to infections
Risk of developing brain damage.

How can diabetes be prevented?
Watch your diet to avoid being overweight.
Regular exercise.

Managing your diabetes:
There is at present no cure for diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually resolves after childbirth.

Your treatment:
Diet and Exercise; Tablets or Insulin injection may be added.

Controlling your blood pressure:
Everyone with diabetes needs to make sure their blood glucose levels are well controlled to reduce the risk of developing further health problems. This means regular checks with your doctor or pharmacist or self-testing at home. The aim of diabetes management is to keep blood glucose levels as near to normal as possible. Normal fasting blood glucose level is
between 70 and 100mg/dl (milligrams per decilitres), fasting blood glucose level greater than or equal to 126mg / dl indicates diabetes, two separate blood tests are needed to diagnose diabetes.
Random blood glucose test is done without regard to time since the person’s last meal, a glucose level greater than or equal to 200mg / dl may indicate diabetes.

Self-testing:
Blood glucose monitoring is often necessary to help manage your condition. Pharmasolutions stock a range of home Blood Glucose Monitors for this purpose, give advice and support with choosing and using a Blood Glucose Monitor. It’s important to keep an accurate record of any test results so that your doctor can spot any patterns in your readings and improve treatment.

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