Diabetes is a lifelong condition, so whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, proper health care and a good relationship with physicians and specialists is imperative to a happy, healthy you. A diabetes diagnosis is no longer something to be afraid of, you can learn to live with the new normal and have a satisfying, healthful life.
Type 1 Diabetes: A Lack of Insulin
Insulin is a hormone that helps your body’s cells use sugar for energy and stores extra energy in muscle, fat, and liver cells. Without it, sugar can’t get into these cells, which causes your blood sugar levels to become high. High blood sugar can cause damage to the eyes, heart, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys. It can also increase your risk for other health complications. Type 1 diabetes occurs when your pancreas stops making insulin. It can happen at any age, but it generally starts in childhood or young adulthood. While there is no cure for type 1 diabetes, you can live a long and active life with the proper treatment.
There is a genetic factor to type 1 diabetes. Some people who have a parent or sibling with the disease are at a higher risk of developing it. Other risk factors include being Caucasian and having islet cell antibodies in the blood. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes that can be early warning signs include:
- Being very thirsty
- Urinating frequently
- Unexplained weight loss
- Being abnormally hungry at times
- Blurred eyesight
Treatment plans include taking insulin, eating a healthy diet in which carbohydrates are spread throughout the day, checking blood sugar levels multiple times daily, and getting exercise regularly.
Type 2 Diabetes: Misused Insulin
You can get type 2 diabetes if your body doesn’t respond to insulin appropriately or if your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin. If you are overweight, sedentary, or have a history of type 2 diabetes in your family, you are more likely to be at risk. It can be prevented or delayed if you live a healthy lifestyle. Treating type 2 diabetes includes making healthy food choices, losing weight if you’re overweight, getting regular exercise, and taking medications if necessary. You should also see your doctor regularly, test your blood sugar levels daily, keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control, and quit smoking.
The Emotional Toll
Living with diabetes can seem insurmountable, but the good news is that it’s not! By following doctor’s orders, managing your weight, exercising, eating right, and staying on top of your blood sugar levels, you can lead a happy, healthy life regardless of your diagnosis. It’s common to feel upset, and that’s okay – just remember that you can still live your life to the fullest.
For more information about diabetes, visit Capital Health Plans’ Healthwise® Knowledgebase at capitalhealth.com.
Hayley Scott, MD, is a family medicine physician at Capital Health Plan and is fluent in American Sign Language.