Today’s post is about education. Let’s work through some questions to help you learn about diabetes.
1 – What are the types of diabetes?
There are two types. 1 and 2. They were called juvenile and adult at one point but that isn’t factual anymore, so they have transitioned to the numbers. Another name could be insulin dependent and non-insulin dependent. But, this doesn’t give you an accurate picture either. Yes, there is also gestational diabetes but we are not going to get into that right now.
2- What is the difference between 1 and 2?
Type 1 diabetes is when the body’s immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin, which makes it impossible for the body to absorb glucose to make energy. Most often it is diagnosed in childhood and individuals can quickly become seriously ill from high blood sugar levels before they are diagnosed. Both high and low blood sugars are a problem. There is no way to prevent it, and there is nothing you can do to cure it (at least right now).
In type 2 diabetes, the body is not able to use insulin efficiently or has a reduced insulin production. The cells that use the insulin to absorb the sugar are not working correctly. Most often this is seen in adults and sometimes can go undiagnosed for years. Normally the struggle is with high blood sugars and not low blood sugars.
3- What are the treatments?
Type 1- Insulin! This is the only way you can stay live. There is no other option. You can’t just eat healthy and exercise to manage it. This is one of the things that annoys me the most. People think of type 2 diabetes most of the time when they hear diabetes. They make comments like, “you just need to eat healthy and exercise more” or “you should be able to prevent this” or “you just ate too many sweets as a kid” to me. I did nothing wrong to cause this. My body attacked itself and due to this I have to give myself insulin.
Type 2- Often you are more flexible. Normally they will use diet and exercise to manage blood sugar levels. Sometimes individuals have to take a medication or even go on insulin, but this is not the norm.
4- What are the complications of diabetes?
If you don’t maintain good control there are a lot of things that can happen. Here are just a few: blindness, kidney damage, nerve damage, amputations, heart disease, seizures, and even death. Personally these scare me! Working as a nurse I see all of these on a daily basis. It is a burden sometimes to maintain good blood sugar readings but I’m doing all I can to prevent these complications.
5- How can you help a friend who has type 1 diabetes?
First, you need to have an open conversation with them. For me, I don’t mind talking about it, but be kind if someone doesn’t really want to share. The most important thing to know is if your friend is acting in a way that isn’t normal, they might be experiencing low or high blood sugar. I say this statement with caution though, because behavior changes don’t always mean diabetes is involved. We all have weird days! I have wonderful friends who look out for me and I’m happy to tell them when it is just me being silly or something related to my diabetes. I say it is better to be safe than sorry. When experiencing low blood sugar you can feel shaky, confused, sweaty, extremely hot, or hungry. This is when a friend can be a big help. You need to get them sugar! Whether it is juice, candy, or another simple sugar, they may need your help getting it. With high blood sugar you can feel irritable, thirsty, lethargic, nauseous, or have a headache. At this point insulin needs to be given. If at any point you feel that your friend is not getting better, please get medical attention. Things can go down hill very quickly, especially when dealing with low blood sugar. Sometimes medical help is the only option. You don’t need to be nervous that something could happen at any moment and you will have to do something, you just need to be aware. You never know when it may help someone!
6- What was the point of all this?
My goal is to give you accurate information and fill in any gaps or correct any rumors you have heard. Also, to show you that this is a crazy disease that needs a cure. I hope in my lifetime I will be able to say I HAD diabetes. If you have any questions please ask me. The only way we can make this better and find a cure is by raising awareness.