Do you have diabetes? You’re not alone! Diabetes FAQs – 28 Most Frequently Asked Questions, Answered.
Diabetes is a global epidemic, and it affects millions of people around the world. It can be scary to learn that you have diabetes, but don’t worry – we’ve got your back!
We know what it feels like to get this diagnosis, so we want to help make things easier for you by answering all your questions about living with diabetes.
There are many ways in which you can manage your condition successfully and live a healthy life without too much disruption or inconvenience.
With our help, we hope that you will soon start feeling better than ever before!
So let’s get started.
1. What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that causes elevated levels of blood sugar or glucose.
The elevated blood sugar levels are usually caused due to the body not producing enough insulin, or by a failure of cells in the pancreas.
Over time, high blood sugar levels can lead to serious health complications if they are not controlled effectively.
2. Who gets diabetes?
Diabetes is usually diagnosed in adults, although it is also known to affect children.
As mentioned before, there are many causes for elevated blood sugar levels, but the most common ones include:
- Having a close family member with diabetes increases your chances of getting diabetes too.
- If you are overweight or obese increases your risk of having type 2 diabetes.
- Being of Middle Eastern, African or Asian descent also increases your risk of getting diabetes.
- Being older than 40 puts you at greater risk.
- You are also more likely to get diabetes if you have a low thyroid hormone level.
- You are also more likely to get diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, as well as heart disease and vascular disease.
If you have a family history, then you may want to ask your doctor about getting tested for diabetes as soon as possible.
3. What are the warning signs?
The warning signs of diabetes can be very subtle at first. Common warning signs include:
- Blurry vision
- Need to urinate more than usual, especially during the night.
- Feeling very tired and lethargic all the time.
- Experiencing sudden weight loss or weight gain.
- Sudden changes in appetite, thirst and mood.
- Feeling very itchy all over the body, especially at night.
- Being constantly hungry no matter how much food you eat or how healthy your diet is.
- Cuts and bruises that are taking a long time to heal.
If you experience any of these symptoms, then please visit your doctor immediately!
4. What is Type-1 Diabetes?
Type-1 Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or it stops producing insulin altogether.
It usually affects children and young adults under the age of 30, although it can affect people over the age of 60 too.
Also known as Juvenile Diabetes, this type accounts for about 10% of all diabetes cases.
5. What is Type-2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when the body can’t regulate sugar levels properly.
This leads to too much glucose in your bloodstream, which could eventually cause disorders of both circulatory and immune systems as well!
Type-2 diabetes is the most common type of disorder.
90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases are Type 2, and it usually affects people over the age of 40.
Being overweight and obese increases your risk of getting type 2 diabetes – since elevated insulin levels are found in people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30.
6. How to measure and monitor Diabetes?
If your doctor diagnoses you with diabetes, then you will need to monitor and track your blood sugar levels on a regular basis.
- A fasting glucose test is usually used to diagnose patients.
This test measures the amount of glucose in your bloodstream after you have not eaten for at least 8 hours.
In order to prevent any harmful effects, it is very important that you monitor your blood sugar levels closely.
Measuring your blood sugar levels regularly can help you spot changes in the condition of your body and let you know what treatment is most effective for you.
There are a few tools that can help make this process a little bit simpler, such as:
Blood glucose meters (aka) Glucometers
Glucometers are small, hand-held devices that are used to measure blood sugar levels.
- They usually come with test strips which you need to prick your finger with in order to get a drop of blood.
- Once the strip is covered with blood, you can place it against the glucometer for results.
- You may want to keep an accurate glucometer at home, at work or in your bag for easy access.
You should look for a Glucometer that gives accurate results and has a good warranty period.
Here is a list of some popular Glucometers.
Needles and lancets
This is for pricking your skin to get a drop of blood.
Usually, this is used for the fasting glucose test.
However, if you are monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly then you should go to your doctor or family clinic and ask them to teach you how to use needles and lancets properly.
7. What are the complications of Diabetes?
The long-term effects of uncontrolled diabetes can include:
- Heart disease and stroke
- Nerve damage (aka Diabetic Neuropathy)
- Kidney damage and failure.
- Eye damage, including blindness.
- Skin problems such as infections and ulcers on your legs.
8. Is diabetes hereditary? Can my family get it too?
Yes, it can be passed down through your genes.
Even if you have yet to experience any symptoms, chances are that type 1 diabetes runs in your family.
If you are thinking about having a baby, then do check with the doctor about whether you need to be tested for diabetes or not.
9. What is the difference between Type-1 and Type-2 Diabetes?
Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question.
Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age but usually occurs in children and young adults.
In some cases, even teenagers can get it.
People with type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin as their bodies cannot produce enough insulin for their needs.
In addition, they need to take daily injections of insulin for survival.
Type 2 diabetes mainly occurs in overweight people who are over the age of 40 (although it can also affect teenagers).
It may go unnoticed for years because people do not experience any symptoms early on.
However, if left uncontrolled then high blood glucose levels will eventually cause serious life-threatening problems.
10. Can you eat whatever you want?
It is true that you cannot eat whatever you want, but there are so many delicious foods out there!
Everyone has to start somewhere.
It may take time for your blood sugar levels to stabilise, so do not underestimate the power of small changes.
Here are just a few examples of foods that have a lower glycemic index:
11. Can I drink alcohol?
You can – in moderation!
Alcohol should only be consumed in moderation as excessive intake will increase the sugars in your blood.
Alcohol can also worsen other symptoms such as fatigue and mood swings, so it is best to only drink alcohol occasionally.
Check out the WebMD study on Diabetes and Alcohol.
12. Is it okay to snack in between meals?
Ideally, you should be snacking on healthy options such as fruit and yoghurt instead of chocolate and chips.
13. What foods to avoid with diabetes?
Since you have to watch your carbohydrate intake, this means that most processed or fast foods are out of the question.
It also means monitoring how much sugar is in the food items that you consume.
Examples of high-sugar foods include:
- Regular soda and fruit juice
- Candy, ice cream and pastries/desserts
- Chips and crackers
- Bread, pasta and cereal.
14. Do I need to eat more protein?
You do not necessarily need to increase your protein intake.
Carbohydrates are the most important nutrient that your body needs – this is why it is important to monitor how many carbohydrates you consume every day.
Depending on which type of diabetes you have, your doctor may recommend a slightly different meal plan for you.
15. Can I still do exercise if I have Type-1 diabetes?
Image source: https://www.jdrf.org/t1d-resources/living-with-t1d/exercise/exercise-impact/
Yes! Exercise is very good for people with Type-1 diabetes as it can help improve blood sugar control and overall physical fitness.
However, you should always consult your doctor first before starting any exercise program as it could be dangerous if done incorrectly.
16. What is the best treatment for diabetes?
The best treatment depends on the type of diabetes that you have and what complications you are experiencing from the condition.
For example, people with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day.
Some people with type 2 diabetes can manage their condition through lifestyle changes and medication, but others may require treatment via insulin injections or the use of an insulin pump.
17. I have high blood sugar levels – what should I do?
If you are experiencing frequent high blood sugar readings then you should consult your doctor as soon as possible.
In some cases, high blood sugar levels could be a sign of ketoacidosis – where harmful acids build up in the body due to a lack of insulin.
18. How will diabetes affect my teeth?
For most people, having diabetes has little to no effect on dental health.
However, you are at higher risk of developing tooth decay or gum disease if your blood sugar levels are not well controlled.
19. Why is it important to monitor your blood sugar?
It is very important to keep track of your blood sugar levels as it allows you to monitor your progress towards reaching your target blood sugar range.
It is also important to monitor blood sugar levels regularly if you are pregnant as uncontrolled high or low blood sugar can put both you and the baby at risk.
20. I feel fine – why should I take my medication?
There are several reasons why you should always take your medication regardless of how you are feeling.
Firstly, you need to make sure that any highs or lows in your blood sugar levels do not go on for too long as it could damage the organs in your body such as the heart, kidneys and eyes etc.
Secondly, even if you feel fine now then this may not be the case in the future – especially if complications have arisen due to uncontrolled diabetes.
21. How do I take my medication?
Your diabetic medication will come in different forms including pills, tablets, liquids or injectables.
When you have prescribed your medication, make sure to ask how you should take it to ensure that it is most effective.
22. Are artificial sweeteners OK?
This is best to only use occasionally as some studies have shown that they can interfere with glucose control.
How do I know which medication to use?
Depending on your condition, your doctor may prescribe you either a long term or short term medication.
For example, if you are pregnant with gestational diabetes then you will require insulin injections until after the birth of the baby (long term).
23. I have high blood pressure – can I still follow a low salt diet?
Yes, you can!
Even people with hypertension should try to eat less salt in order to reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease further down the track.
24. What type of exercise is best for diabetes?
Although any form of physical activity is good for your condition it is important that you check which activities are right for you before starting.
For example, swimming could be beneficial for someone with type 1 diabetes if they are looking to improve their overall fitness but this may not be suitable for someone who has neuropathy and only experiences mild pain.
25. When should I seek medical attention?
If you experience unexplained weight loss, blurred vision, persistent thirst and urination then you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
These symptoms could be a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis which is a life-threatening complication that people with type 1 diabetes are at higher risk of developing so it is important to seek medical help immediately.
26. Can I have intercourse during diabetes?
Yes, during most stages of the condition, sex is perfectly safe.
There are only certain conditions where patients should seek expert advice before engaging in intercourse such as the history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), vaginal infections or if you have sores on their genitals.
27. How do I know when to increase my dose?
This will really depend on the medication that you are taking.
For example, if you are using an insulin pen then it is important to note how many units of insulin are currently being injected.
When this amount increases by more than 50% after a few days or if your blood sugar readings are consistently high throughout the day then it may be a sign that you need to increase your dose.
28. How do I know when to eat?
The best way to tell whether or not you should begin eating is by checking your blood sugar levels.
If they are consistently below 4mml/dl on waking then this could be a sign that your body requires nourishment and it is time to start eating.
Lastly, remember that everyone’s body will react differently to the medications and treatments prescribed and you need to constantly monitor your own condition (and seek professional help) in order to manage your diabetes effectively.
Hope this helps!
Please leave a comment if you have any questions or experiences about diabetes that you would like to share with others!
Vikas Solanki is an award-winning restaurateur, entrepreneur, cryptocurrency trader and internet marketer that has been operating for over 15 years. He passionately blogs about the latest trends in SEO, Digital marketing, food, fitness, technology and lifestyle on BestinIndia.com – He also produced an Electro solo music track during the Covid19 Lockdown, here is the Spotify link.