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Diabetes Basics

Diabetes Basics Understanding the basics of diabetes is the first step in gaining control of your health. Let’s look at what causes diabetes, some of the common symptoms, the benefits of healthy living, and what to do if you’ve just been diagnosed. What is diabetes? Diabetes is a chronic disease. Your blood sugar levels are controlled by insulin, a hormone produced by your pancreas. When you eat, food gets broken down and glucose enters your bloodstream. Insulin takes the glucose out of your bloodstream and allows it to enter your cells where it is broken down and turned into energy. If you have diabetes, either you don’t have enough insulin or the insulin you do have doesn’t work to get the glucose out of your blood and into your cells. This is how your blood sugar ends up going higher than it should (hyperglycemia).1 3 main types of diabetes With type 1 diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t make insulin at all. With type 2 diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, or the insulin doesn’t work correctly. Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition, when a woman’s insulin is less effective during pregnancy. Common symptoms of diabetes The onset of type 1 diabetes usually happens fast, and symptoms may be intense. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are usually mild (or even not there at all), and appear over time. Common symptoms of either type include:2 Frequent urination Excessive thirst Increased hunger Weight loss Tiredness Lack of interest and concentration A tingling sensation or numbness in the hands or feet Blurred vision Frequent infections Slow-healing wounds Vomiting and stomach pain, often mistaken as the flu (However, it is very common to get the flu before being diagnosed, as diabetes is an auto-immune disease.) If you haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes and show any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Please delete as this shall not apply to India How does low blood sugar happen? Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) generally occurs when your blood sugar level drops below 70 mg/dl (3.9 mmol/L). It happens when there is too much insulin or diabetes medication in your body, if you need to eat, if you are extremely active, or if you drink too much alcohol. Everyone reacts differently to low blood sugar, but common symptoms include:3 Shakiness, weakness, or chills Irritability or confusion Dizziness or nausea Blurred vision or headaches Seizures or unconsciousness If you have low blood sugar, treat it according to your healthcare provider’s instructions. In general, though, try to eat 15 grams of glucose or carbohydrates , retest your blood sugar after 15 minutes, and if you’re still low, repeat. Newly diagnosed? Here’s what to do now. It’s never easy to be handed a diabetes diagnosis. You may wonder, “Why is this happening?” and may fear the unknown. It’s common to blame yourself and worry about what others will think of you. What’s most important is that you acknowledge all of your emotions as they come and go, resolve to deal with them, and understand that you are not alone. The first step in taking control of your health after a diagnosis is making an appointment with your primary healthcare provider (or endocrinologist, or diabetes nurse, etc.), and finding out everything you can about your diabetes. To start, you should find out: If you are type 1 or type 2 How to test your own blood sugar How to operate a blood glucose meter How to understand your test results How to treat your diabetes What kind of exercise is right for you What changes to make to your diet Other health issues you have that affect your diabetes treatment Who else you can see for information Create an entire treatment plan with your doctor, and make a follow-up appointment. Eating and drinking Thinking about the food you eat and making healthier choices is one of the most important ways you can control your blood sugar. Counting carbohydrates, eating healthy fats (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, or omega-3), getting enough protein and fiber – these are the keys to a healthy diabetes diet. Don’t forget to factor in your drinks when managing your blood sugar. Water, unsweetened tea or coffee, or low-calorie drinks are best. Avoid fruit juice or sugary sodas (unless you’re treating a bout of low blood sugar). Keep alcoholic drinks to 1 per day for women, 2 for men. Why testing your own blood sugar is important The results of your blood sugar level tests tell you how food, exercise, or other factors like stress are affecting your blood glucose. If you test regularly, you’ll begin to see patterns – highs and lows – and will be able to make changes to your daily routine that improve your health over time. Insulin and diabetes? Without diabetes: Your pancreas makes insulin > You eat > Food enters your bloodstream > Insulin takes the glucose into your cells > Glucose is broken down and turned into energy. With diabetes: Your pancreas doesn’t make insulin, or the insulin it makes doesn’t work > You eat > Glucose can’t be turned into energy in your cells > Your blood sugar goes too high.  

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Low Blood Glucose Warning Signs

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Hyperglycemia, or high blood glucose, occurs when blood glucose rises above your recommended range. Your healthcare professional will determine the proper healthy blood glucose range for you. High blood glucose can be caused by many things, including:     Eating too much food     Little or no physical activity     Not taking medications     Stress, infection or illness     Bad or spoiled insulin High blood glucose can cause serious problems and a major cause of long-term diabetes complications. Warning signs of high blood glucose include:        Tiredness or fatigue     Increased thirst     Frequent urination     Blurred vision     Dry mouth or skin     Slow-healing cuts and sores     Unexplained weight loss It is important to keep your blood glucose level within your target range. Checking your blood glucose often may help you avoid hyperglycemia. During illness your blood glucose levels can increase because of the hormones in the body that are helping you to get better. If you have type 1 diabetes you may need more insulin when you are sick, talk to your healthcare provider.

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Hypoglycemia occurs when your blood glucose drops too low. The body responds to low blood glucose with warning signs that may be different in each person. Some warning signs of low blood glucose are feeling:     Weak     Shaky     Sweaty     Irritable or confused     Hungry Low blood glucose may occur if your meal or snack is delayed or missed, after vigorous physical activity, or if too much insulin is given. In a person without diabetes, the pancreas will stop producing insulin if the blood glucose level falls below normal. In a person with diabetes, the insulin they inject or pump keeps working, even when the blood glucose level is low. In people with type 2 diabetes some of the diabetes medications help your body to make more insulin and if you take these medications without eating food, you can also have low blood glucose. Check with your healthcare provider. Low blood glucose may be caused by the following: Not following your meal plan like skipping or delaying a meal Too much exercise or exercising for a long time without eating a snack or adjusting your insulin before exercise Too much medication or a change in the time you take your medication  Stress Side effects from other medications Alcohol intake, especially without food How to treat low blood glucose: If you feel any of the warning signs of low blood glucose, test immediately, and in the event that you do not have a blood glucose meter, treat right away. Eat or drink fast-acting sugar such as: 15 grams of glucose tablets (this works very fast)  3 teaspoons or 3 packets of table sugar dissolved in 15 ml water  ½ cup of juice or regular soft drink (non diet)  6 Life Savers®  1 tablespoon of honey Wait 10-15 minutes, check your blood glucose. If it is still low (less than 4.0 mmol/L):     Treat again with one of the fast-acting sugar mentioned above.     If your next meal is more than 1 hour away, eat a snack such as a sandwich or crackers and cheese.     Try to work out why your blood glucose went low so that you can avoid it from happening again. Regular testing may help you avoid hypoglycemia. It is important to check your blood glucose often. If untreated, hypoglycemia can cause serious effects, such as seizures or fainting. Someone who is having seizures or who has passed out will need help from others. People at this severe stage will need an immediate glucagon injection. A doctor must prescribe glucagon and show you and your loved ones how to prepare and inject it.

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Tips for Making Testing Easier

Whether you check your blood glucose level once a week, once a day, or 6 times a day, learning how to make testing easy and less painful may inspire you to test more often. For people with diabetes, the knowledge that you gain from testing is the key to staying in control of your health. It helps you make informed decisions about medicine, food, and exercise. It helps you cope with the day-to-day demands of living with diabetes, you’ll feel better each day, and you’ll lower your risk for future diabetes complications.1 Here are some tips for getting the best results possible. A guide: when to test The standard times to test your blood sugar level include:2 Before breakfast (fasting) Before lunch/dinner Two hours after a meal Before bed Before and after rigorous exercise When you don’t feel well Other events that could require a blood glucose test include: Changes to your routine while travelling Changing or adjusting your insulin or medication When you’re experiencing either high or low blood sugar symptoms When you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant Before and after surgical procedures After dental procedures Illness Times of stress Premenstrual The best place to test Wash and dry your hands before testing on the side of a fingertip. Alternate fingers and sides so that you don’t develop calluses, which could make it more difficult to get a good blood sample. You can also test on other parts of your body, like your forearm or your palm. If you’re using an Accu-Chek lancing device, it comes with a special cap to use only with alternate site testing. Afraid of needles? Does the sight of a needle cause you to feel anxious, nauseated, or faint? You’re not alone. Unfortunately, the stress of this phobia can interfere with your health, and your fears can give you what feels like a good reason to avoid your treatments or regular blood tests. Since avoiding your medicine is not an option, here are a few ways to get comfortable with needles.   Ask your doctor or pharmacist to show you the quickest, least painful way to lance your finger. Use a lancing device. The needles are especially thin and coated for easier lancing. Use a new lancet with every test. The tip of a used needle can become dull or bent if used repeatedly. Insulin pump users only have to change their injection site every 2-3 days, and can numb the injection site with ice. If you’re getting blood drawn by a phlebotomist, let them know if technicians have had trouble finding a vein in the past. Take care of your test strips Although Accu-Chek Test strips are easy to handle, you do need to take some care with them to get the most accurate result possible. Take care to keep them at room temperature (not too hot or too cold) and keep them in the original container. The container cap should be sealed as much as possible to keep humidity from affecting them. They can expire as well. The test strip container label will list the expiration or “use by” date. Discover what works and what doesn’t Have your test results come back too high or too low, yet you feel just fine? Or are your test results in normal range, but you still don’t feel right? Don’t dismiss the results. Wash your hands, retest, and see if you get the same numbers before you take action. Over days and weeks, compare your readings to previous ones. Make note if you were ill, drank alcohol, experienced something stressful, or if you had just exercised, or anything like this that can also affect your blood sugar.3 Accu-Chek offers several, simple, on-paper diabetes management tools that help you understand your blood sugar test results. Try the <a class="inline_download_file" href="/filedownload/16901">[Accu-Chek 3600 View® tool ]</a> or the Accu-Chek Testing in Pairs tool. Both can help you and your health care provider identify patterns for how things like stress, food, or exercise affect your test results. Bring these worksheets to your health care provider, and discuss them to make sure you are testing and treating correctly. Why Is Testing Important?  You can make better choices about food and exercise It gets easier to cope with the day-to-day demands of living with diabetes You notice that you generally feel healthier with tighter control You lower your risk for future diabetes complications with tighter control

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