Tue | Dec 5, 2023

What to expect if you have diabetes

Published:Wednesday | September 27, 2023 | 12:05 AMKeisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer

DIABETES IS a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Glucose is your body’s main source of energy. Your body can make glucose, but glucose also comes from the food you eat.

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that helps glucose get into your cells to be used for energy. If you have diabetes, your body does not make enough, or any, insulin, or does not use insulin properly. Glucose then stays in your blood and does not reach your cells.

Diabetes raises the risk for damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart. Diabetes is also linked to some types of cancer. Dr Rivane Chybar Virgo, medical doctor and health and wellness coach, says taking steps to prevent or manage diabetes may lower your risk of developing diabetes health problems.

“If you have Type One diabetes, your body makes little or no insulin. Your immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. Type One diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, although it can appear at any age. People with Type One diabetes need to take insulin every day to stay alive,” Dr Chybar Virgo said.

“If you have Type Two diabetes, the cells in your body do not use insulin properly. The pancreas may be making insulin but is not making enough insulin to keep your blood glucose level in the normal range. Type Two diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. You are more likely to develop Type Two diabetes if you have risk factors, such as overweight or obesity, and a family history of the disease. You can develop Type Two diabetes at any age, even during childhood,” Chybar Virgo said.

According to Dr Chybar Virgo, you can help delay or prevent Type Two diabetes by knowing the risk factors and taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle, such as losing weight or preventing weight gain. Diabetes can also be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with diet, physical activity, medication and regular screening and treatment for complications.

Between 2000 and 2019, there was a three per cent increase in diabetes mortality rates by age. In 2019, diabetes and kidney disease caused by diabetes resulted in an estimated two million deaths.

“Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, eating healthy and engaging in regular, moderate physical activity may reduce the progression of prediabetes and Type Two diabetes, and control Type One diabetes. They can also minimise other risk factors such as high blood pressure, blood cholesterol and even heart attacks and strokes,” Dr Chybar Virgo said.

In many instances, lifestyle changes, she said, must be accompanied by medications to control blood glucose levels, high blood pressure and cholesterol. This complementary regimen may also prevent heart attack and stroke.

Diabetes can be successfully managed. You can work with your healthcare team to set personal goals, and be sure to monitor your critical health numbers, including your blood sugar level, weight, blood cholesterol level and blood pressure.

For more information on how to manage your diabetes, you can email healthtalksundays@gmail.com