Diabetes is a condition that affects millions of Americans today. The number is steadily growing as more people are struggling with their dietary habits and managing their weight than ever before. The good news is that while there is no cure, the condition is very treatable. A person with diabetes can expect to live a normal life, but with some modifications to their current lifestyle.
Diabetes can come as a surprise diagnosis for many. The physical symptoms of diabetes can be subtle. Some of the first diabetes symptoms a person may experience before even receiving a diabetes diagnosis include weight loss, vision problems, excessive hunger or thirst and frequent urination. Some people with diabetes may experience mental or psychological symptoms, such as lethargy and mood swings if their blood sugar levels become too low or too high. Not everyone experiences all of these symptoms, and the first sign may be something as simple as abnormal blood work.
After the Diagnosis
A person diagnosed with diabetes will usually need to make major lifestyle changes regarding their diet. Doctors recommend cutting out fried or sugary foods and switching to a balanced diet that includes whole grains, proteins, fruits and vegetables. Another key recommendation when following a diabetes diet is to eat small, regular meals and snacks spaced throughout the day instead of large meals once or twice a day. Planning meals becomes very important for a person with diabetes, because choosing the wrong foods can cause blood sugar levels to become unstable. It is good idea for diabetics to arrange accommodations ahead of time when a meal is being served so that it can be prepared according to their dietary guidelines.
If diet and exercise alone are not enough to control blood sugar levels, medication may be prescribed, including insulin. The amount of medication or insulin a person takes usually depends on their blood sugar levels. Some people may need to have an insulin pump installed so that they can administer the correct dose of insulin at any time it is needed.
Monitoring Blood Sugar
A person with diabetes must regularly check to make sure that their blood sugar levels are within an acceptable range. This is usually done with a finger prick blood test at specific times during the day. If the blood sugar levels are too low or too high, the diabetic will need to consume sugar or take insulin to bring the blood sugar level back within the proper range. A diabetic will need to make sure that they have all the necessary supplies with them at all times, such as the machine to check blood sugar, a device for pricking their fingers, medications, as well as needles and syringes if injecting insulin is sometimes necessary.
Diabetics need to see their doctor regularly to make sure that their blood sugar levels are staying under control and to make sure that they are not suffering other adverse effects as a result of the disease. A doctor may order new or different medications if the current regimen is not keeping the person’s blood sugar under control. Eye exams are also important since diabetes can cause vision problems due to diabetic retinopathy.
Advances in treatment have made managing diabetes a much easier task than it was decades before, and the prognosis today is much better for those newly diagnosed with diabetes than it used to be. Several decades ago, it was common for sufferers of diabetes to experience serious health problems as a result of their condition such as blindness or loss of limbs. Now, thanks to new medication and careful management, such major health consequences can usually be avoided.