Diabetes – A Deadly Secret

Diabetes – A Deadly Secret

By Heather Branch, RN, Northshore LIVING WELL Magazine

Diabetes is more prevalent in the community than most realize. Over 25 million Americans have diabetes. In 2007, total diagnosed diabetes cost the U.S. $174 million. Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness, nontraumatic lower limb amputation and kidney failure. The risk for stroke is two to four times higher for diabetics.

Diabetes is a metabolic disease that is a lifelong chronic illness. It manifests itself by high levels of sugar in the blood that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin.  Symptoms of high blood sugar include blurred vision, excess thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, hunger, weight loss and more serious diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1 or Juvenile, Type 2 and Gestational. There are various treatment options for each type of diabetes. Treatment may include insulin, oral medication, diet control and exercise. The most common form of diabetes is Type 2. This form of diabetes is associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, lack of physical activity and ethnicity.

Uncontrolled diabetes can affect all your major organs. It is extremely important to maintain strict compliance with medications prescribed by your physician, maintain a healthy diet, exercise and monitor your blood sugar levels as directed by your physician. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause kidney damage, visual problems (retinopathy), pain in the extremities (neuropathy), high blood pressure, poor circulation and poor wound healing resulting in venous stasis ulcers.

Strict monitoring of blood sugar levels is of the utmost importance to controlling diabetes. Most physicians recommend checking your blood sugar at least four times per day. In addition, your physician may order an A1C blood test every three to six months to monitor your average blood sugar over the last 60 days. This will give your physician a good idea of how well your diabetes is in control.

If you or someone you know is struggling with controlling diabetes, Southeast Louisiana Home Health is here to help. Please call us at 1-800-479-4712 to discuss a possible treatment plan.