How to Control Diabetes

For many, a diabetes diagnosis is a wake-up call. You can get a diagnosis at any age, and it's important to know what you can do to help yourself live a normal life with diabetes. Controlling a case of diabetes is usually a question of managing your blood sugar levels and living an active, health-conscious life. Medications (insulin for type 1 when the body can not make enough insulin, but often other medications for type 2, for when the body does not use its available insulin correctly) are also used to keep your blood sugar under control and to manage your symptoms.
Getting your diabetes under control so you can live a happy, healthy life, is the goal. The content in this article refers only to general cases and is not intended to replace the opinion of a doctor or following your medical team's advice.

Making a Diabetes Treatment Plan
Type 1 Diabetes

1- Consult with a doctor to start or adjust your treatment plan. Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, is a chronic disease, which, despite its name, can begin and affect people at any age. This type of diabetes is an autoimmune disease. While it can occur suddenly due to infection, symptoms will usually appear after an illness. Symptoms in type 1 are usually quite noticeable, more severe and quicker to cause illness. Symptoms for type 1 or advanced type 2 often include:[1]
  • Increased thirst and frequent urination
  • Dehydration
  • Possibly extreme hunger with loss of appetite (nothing satisfies you)
  • Unexplained blurred vision
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unusual weakness/fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections (such as gums or skin infections and vaginal infections),
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Ketones in the urine, in medical tests -- ketones are a byproduct of the unhealthy breakdown/loss of muscle and fat (wasting away) that happens when there's not enough available insulin to support life.

2- Act quickly if faced with any of the severe problems in untreated type 1 diabetes. These can be life-threatening. They may include weakened immunity to infectious diseases, and generally poor circulation (including in the eyes and kidneys), and other illnesses. Pay attention to any unexplained pain in your feet and legs, numbness and increasing infections in toes and feet, or gangrene in toes, feet and legs -- and seek medical attention immediately.
Because the initial symptoms of Type 1 diabetes can be severe, it is not uncommon for you to have to stay in the hospital for a short time after your diagnosis. If you suspect that you have diabetes and delay seeing a doctor, you can end up in a coma. Always rely on the advice of a qualified doctor or specialist when deciding on any plans to fight your diabetes.
No, Type 1 nor Type 2 diabetes can not be completely cured, but with a lifelong commitment to your treatment plan, these diseases can be managed to the point that you will be able to live a normal life. Begin your treatment plan immediately after you develop diabetes, for better health. If you think you may have diabetes, do not wait on seeing a doctor. It is highly recommended that you see a doctor.[2]

3- Take steps to understand diabetes. You're here, so you are in the right mind set. Diabetes educators are highly recommended. These experts help you understand the different tools available to you, and can help you adjust your meals to better control blood glucose levels. For type one diabetics diagnosed at a young age, an appointment with a diabetes trainer/educator is often mandatory, and they will often meet with you while in the hospital.

4- Take your medications every day. The body of a person with Type 1 diabetes needs insulin because ones pancreas is damaged in a way that will not produce enough insulin as needed. Insulin is a chemical compound used to break down sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream. The type 1 diabetic must work with their doctor to find their correct dosage of insulin, because different individuals have different reactions to various types of insulin, and because some individuals with this type of diabetes may still be producing insulin at mild levels. Without insulin, the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes will rapidly worsen and eventually cause death. To be clear: Type 1 diabetics need to take insulin every day or they will die.[3] Your precise daily insulin dosages will vary based on your size, diet, activity level, and genetics, which is why it is so important to see a doctor to get a thorough evaluation before beginning your diabetes treatment plan. Insulin is generally available in several different varieties, each of which is formulated for specific purposes. These are:[4]
  • "Mealtime" (bolus) insulin: Rapid-acting insulin. Usually taken right before a meal to prevent elevated blood glucose levels after eating.
  • Basal insulin: Slower-acting insulin. Usually taken between meals once or twice a day to control "resting" blood glucose levels.
  • Pre-mixed insulin: A combination of bolus and basal insulin. Can be be taken before breakfast and dinner in order to keep blood glucose levels low after meals as well as throughout the day.

5- Consider an insulin pump: An insulin pump is a device that continually injects a bolus rate insulin to mimic the effects of the basal rate insulin. Your blood glucose level is entered into the device at meal times and in accordance with your normal testing schedule, and your bolus is calculated for you. In addition a carbohydrate ratio can be set and be added to the bolus calculation as well.
  • There is the new tubeless insulin pump that is an "all-in-one" unit that typically come loaded with a three day supply of insulin with the battery and pump built-in, it is the Omnipod, that is wirelessly controlled by a Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM). It takes ideally requires about ten pumps per month that come in a box holding a 30 day supply.[5]
  • The old, standard injection set consisted of a plastic cap attached to a catheter that injects the insulin (subcutaneous delivery of insulin). It was inserted into your chosen injection site brought from the pump by tubing called the cannula. The pump set might be attached to a belt or near the delivery site with an adhesive pad. On the other end, the tubing connects to a cartridge that you fill with insulin and insert into the pump unit. Some pumps have a compatible glucose monitor that measures glucose levels just below the dermis. While not as effective as a glucose meter, this device will allow early detection and compensation for sugar spikes and drops.
  • Pump users typically monitor their blood sugars more frequently to evaluate the effectiveness of insulin delivery by the pump, to be aware if the pump malfunctions. Some malfunctions of the insulin pump include:
  • Pump battery is discharged
  • Insulin is inactivated by heat exposure
  • Insulin reservoir runs empty
  • Tubing loosens and insulin leaks rather than being injected
  • The cannula becomes bent or kinked, preventing delivery of insulin.
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