Fact or Fiction?
Can you decide if these statements about Diabetes are facts or fiction?
- There is a strong genetic influence in all Diabetes cases.
- You should treat someone with Diabetes having a low blood sugar by giving milk and a biscuit.
- If you are very thirsty a lot, going to the toilet a lot through the night and very tired all the time, you might have Diabetes.
- If you have Diabetes, you must avoid all sugar.
Answers are at the bottom of this blog.
Type 1 or Type 2
Diabetes Mellitus, or commonly referred to as just Diabetes, involves reduced levels of insulin produced by the body and influencing blood sugar levels can be divided into 2 main categories.
Type 1 is an autoimmune problem which stops the pancreas producing insulin, requiring the sufferer to need to inject themselves with insulin several times a day. It is often found first in children, although occasionally adults can suddenly find themselves suffering with it. About 10% of cases are Type 1.
Type 2 generally appears later in life when the pancreas cells reduce how much insulin they produce and can also stop entirely. There is still much to learn about what actually happens but currently it is understood that there can be combinations of factors which can lead to this. See our next blog for more on this.
What goes wrong and how is it treated?
In a normal, healthy response to eating food, the body breaks any carbohydrates down into sugar (its most basic form) that go into the blood to travel to muscles and the brain making them work well. As the blood sugar levels rise, the body produces insulin in order for the body to absorb that sugar, thus returning the blood sugar levels back to normal range quite quickly after eating.
Sufferers need to inject insulin when eating something to mimic the same response that the body has. There are different types of insulin mixes that work in different ways. Depending on the lifestyle and ability of the individual, different regimens are advised by specialist medical staff. A sufferer can check the blood sugar levels themselves by pricking a finger and using a machine to check if the levels are high or low. With regular advice, a person can learn to judge how much insulin might be needed per meal and give themselves that dose. Other factors need to be taken into account, such as illness, exercise and pregnancy. Regular support is needed throughout their lives.
Symptoms and Long Term Effects
With Type 1 Diabetes it is a constant balancing act between how much carbohydrate is in the body and how much is used or affected by insulin injected. These and other factors such as illness or exercise, ultimately push the blood sugar levels up or down, leading to problems if these are outside the normal, healthy range.
Low Blood Sugars
If blood sugar levels get too low problems can include:
- loss of concentration
- or worse case scenario, a coma
Treat with consuming something very sugary, such as crunching a boiled sweet, or a few mouthfuls of fizzy pop (not the sugar-free kinds), or if very low, a special gel or glucagon injection.
High Blood Levels
If sugar levels are too high symptoms include
- excessive thirst
- weight loss without meaning to
- needing to go to the toilet much more, especially at night
- blurred vision
- genital itching, thrush
- cuts taking a long time to heal
- very high levels can lead to a coma
If you think you have one or more of these symptoms, see your GP who can give you a test to see if this is a problem you have.
And over a long period of time (years), problems can include
- nerve damage in feet and hands, leading to numbness and potential damage
- eye damage and sight loss
- kidney damage and failure
- a higher risk of heart disease or stroke
IDH Training Courses
IDH Training has a Diabetes Overview Course which is suitable for those caring for those suffering with either type of Diabetes. Great for those working in care homes or doing domiciliary care work. We have expert knowledge on this subject and can give up to date information.
For more information about our courses and prices or to make a booking, visit our website or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fiction- not ALL Diabetes has a genetic link. Some Type 2 cases are purely down to poor lifestyle choices or illness.
- Fiction - this old advice about treating a 'Hypo' (low blood sugar level) does not give the sugar quickly enough. A few mouthfuls of a fizzy drink (not sugar-free one ;-)) or a sweet, crunched and swallowed, if the person is conscious, is the best way to raise the blood sugar levels
- Fact - if you have one or more of these symptoms for a little while, it is best to go to your GP to be tested.
- Fiction- it is impossible to avoid ALL sugar. Having too much fat in the diet can also cause problems. A healthy balance of fruit and vegetables, lower fat, lower sugar items with occasional treats is a better, longer-term way of eating.
For more information, see the Diabetes UK website.