Understanding and Managing Diabetes
Learning how to manage diabetes takes time and patience.
Utilizing local and internet resources can help on the journey to reach your goals. Remember that “a little bit is better than not a bit” as you learn lifestyle changes.There are two types of Diabetes. In type I, the pancreas does not produce any insulin whereas Type 2 is caused by low or ineffective insulin production. Both cause excessively high blood sugars that over time can damage the body systems including vision, kidneys, and circulation.
Type 1, Insulin dependent diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and is caused by the pancreas’ inability to produce and secrete insulin. Type 2, non-insulin dependent, is usually diagnosed later in life and can usually be managed with diet and medications. When medications become ineffective some people with type II can require Insulin injections.
Normal Blood Sugar Ranges
Normal blood sugars range between 80-120. Highs are caused by diet, not enough medicine and not enough exercise. Alternatively, lows can be caused by not enough food or skipped meals, too much exercise, or too much medicine. The best way to manage highs and lows is to keep a diary of blood sugars with notes about what has been eaten and how much exercise on any given day. The doctor will review the highs/lows and make the necessary adjustments. The test used to evaluate blood sugars over a 3 month period is known as the “glycated hemoglobin” test. Also, known as the HbA1c test. The target range is between 5-7. Many who are first diagnosed with diabetes will have numbers as high as 10-12. These are the numbers that indicate how high the blood sugar average is, the higher numbers lead to the complications that are common with diabetes.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypo/Hyperglycemia
Signs of hyperglycemia (high sugar) are frequent urination, excessive thirst, headache, weakness/fatigue, dizzy, DRY flushed skin, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Usually high sugars are resolved with medication, insulin or food adjustments. When sugars are in the 300-400 range, it is important to seek medical attention to prevent Ketoacidosis, a condition that can lead to shock.
Hypoglycemia (low sugar), is more critical for immediate safety. A blood sugar reading less than 80 will need to be treated with a snack. When readings fall in the 60-70 or less range, a person can behave strangely which can mimic a stroke or onset of delirium, confusion and agitation. If at anytime a person with low blood sugar readings is unable to take a snack or becomes unconscious 911 and EMS needs to intervene quickly with IV glucose. Subtle signs of hypoglycemia include Fatigue, headache, drowsy, hungry, tremors (shaky), moist clammy skin, agitation and anxiety, or impaired vision.
If you or your loved one is struggling with managing or learning how to manage diabetes, you may benefit from skilled nursing assistance. Your local physician can recommend additional resources to help guide you in this process. Additional information can be obtained by visiting the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org.