Diabetes can present two main categories of problems, in the form of short term ill-effects and longer term harm. Minimizing both areas requires discipline.
Rapid spikes or dips in blood glucose level can result in several unpleasant effects: dizziness, disorientation, muscle weakness, nausea and others. For some diabetics, it’s very difficult to prevent this from happening at some time. But there are practices that can improve the odds.
Regular and careful monitoring is a must. It’s no picnic to endure a finger prick three times a day. For those who simply can’t muster the will, it is worthwhile to look into some of the newer glucose monitoring devices that don’t require it.
Some contain tiny, powerful lasers that create a hole through which blood oozes. They produce only a mild tingling sensation. One recent device senses glucose level through the skin using an infrared beam, requiring no blood sample at all.
The goal is to keep the glucose-insulin balance as close to normal levels as possible. Non-diabetics have a fasting glucose level under about 99 mg/dL. Even after a heavy meal, when glucose may rise to over 200 mg/dL, insulin is released which brings it back down within a couple of hours. That means that keeping the glucose level right isn’t so much achieving a static number as maintaining the correct dynamic balance.
Part of a long-term glucose monitoring strategy should encompass regular physician visits with a quarterly A1C test. Several tests exist to measure blood glucose level at a given time. The A1C test provides a picture averaged over a period of months. The name comes from HbA1c, an abbreviation for glycated hemoglobin.
Hemoglobin molecules in the red blood cells carry oxygen to tissues. The extra glucose in the bloodstream of a diabetic causes that hemoglobin to get glycated. That effect persists and allows an A1C test to measure the accumulated result.
Long term the effects will accumulate, good or bad. Over 10-15 years or longer, many diabetes patients of the past would endure blindness, kidney damage, nerve damage and other ill health effects. That no longer has to be the case. With contemporary understanding of the disease and modern technology it’s possible to reduce the odds of those effects nearly to those without the disease.
Exercise and diet are two key elements for the overwhelming majority of diabetes sufferers to help achieve the right glucose-insulin balance.
Keeping body fat low through proper diet and exercise will help. Body fat plays a role in how the body reacts to glucose levels, as well as affecting hormone production and release. While the mechanisms are still being investigated, many studies show there is a clear correlation between body fat and the severity of diabetes effects, as well.
Proper weight and body fat maintenance will also help keep blood pressure at the right level. Chronic high blood pressure is one of the major elements in increasing the risk of common diabetes problems: heart attack and stroke, eye and nerve damage, and others.
With diligence a diabetic can lead a normal life, one very much like those fortunate enough not to have the condition. A little attention a few times a day can lead to not having to pay too much attention at all.