Diabetes: Getting to know the Basics

The Basics About Diabetes - Everyday Diabetes Magazine

What are the different types of diabetes?

There are three different types of diabetes, plus pre-diabetes.

  • Pre diabetes – When your blood glucose levels are elevated, but not high enough for a full diabetes type 2 diagnosis.
  • Type 1 diabetes – When your body’s beta cells stop producing the hormone insulin. Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder usually diagnosed in children and teenagers, although it can show up in adults too.
  • Type 2 diabetes – When your body cannot make the required amount of insulin to control your blood sugar.
  • Gestational diabetes – Develops during pregnancy, and happens in a little under 1 in 5 pregnancies. This type increases the chance for both mother and baby to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

What else should I keep in mind?

Just think about your testing as your ABCs – A1C, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol.

  • An A1C test measures the amount of hemoglobin in your blood that is covered in sugar, so it tells you what your average blood glucose levels were over the past few months.
  • Blood pressure measures the force of your blood flow, and consists of a systolic reading (the top number, and the pressure at which your heart pushes blood through the vessels) and a diastolic reading (the bottom number, and the pressure at which your vessels relax).
  • There are two important types of cholesterol that can be tested: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDLs are bad and can lead to plaque build-up on the arterial walls, while HDLs are good and protect the heart against disease.

Each of these tests can provide a profile of your health, and should be done at least once a year, if not more.

How often should I test my blood glucose levels?

Regularly. People with type 1 diabetes and pregnant women taking insulin should check themselves at least three times a day, or more if recommended by a doctor. There’s no set amount of times per day a type 2 diabetic should test themselves, however, a healthcare provider can help determine the right schedule.

What about my medicine?

Take all medications as directed by your doctor or other healthcare provider. While insulin itself isn’t available orally, the medications that are available can help through any number of mechanisms, including lowering insulin resistance or blood glucose levels, or increasing pancreatic insulin output.

How does insulin work?

Insulin is produced by the pancreas and allows the glucose to enter the cells of the body, fueling your body. If your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, glucose will build up in the bloodstream and can cause problems. This is why taking synthetic insulin when you need it is very important.

What can I do to mitigate the effects of diabetes?

  • See Your Doctor Regularly – Diabetes can affect every part of your body. By scheduling yearly exams, you will stay ahead of any illnesses or complications that could potentially develop. This means not only seeing your primary care physician, but also your eye doctor and dentist.
  • Eat Healthy – Planning your meals will go a long way to keeping you healthier for longer. Meal planning means you will eat healthily and regularly, decreasing fatigue and helping you to track your reactions to different foods.
  • Exercise Frequently – Working your body will help your insulin to work better and keep that blood sugar under control.

What else should I know?

Having the right people at your side will help tremendously as you navigate living with diabetes. In addition to your primary care physician, consider going to a certified diabetes educator, a registered dietitian, and/or a mental health counselor. A pharmacist who is aware of all of the medications you are taking will also be valuable, as will an endocrinologist or a podiatrist, although those will be referrals by your primary care physician if they are needed.

For the most up to date and most accurate information we highly recommend you consult your health care provider.

Reviewed by Dr. Zuraima Corona Rodriguez

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