Diabetes Mellitus has taken a toll on the physical and mental health of a significant percentage of the American population. There has been a significant rise in the number of appointments with internal medicine doctor for its management. While medications substantially help lower blood sugar levels, it is the lifestyle changes that leave a long-term influence. Here we discuss a little about diabetes mellitus and how various lifestyle management practices can help manage it for a long time.
Diabetes Mellitus – A Endocrinological disease
Diabetes mellitus – a term to indicate a group of diseases that influence the body’s utilization of blood sugar (glucose). Today, it plagues over 37.3 million Americans, who developed the disease due to medical or lifestyle factors. However, from the total count, 8.5 million still live undiagnosed and hence, witness the prognosis worsen over time.
Diabetes may either be chronic or a potentially reversible condition. The latter includes hyperglycemic conditions during pregnancy or before the onset of DM itself, known as gestational diabetes and prediabetes respectively. Both these conditions may reverse with time, though with proper medical intervention.
Chronic diabetes is a long-term condition that influences how the body converts food into energy. It’s typically divided into two predominant categories, i.e., types 1 and 2 according to its target demographic and pathology.
TYPE 1 DIABETES:
Characterized as an autoimmune disease, type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the pancreas. As a result, the insulin-producing cells are damaged, hence known as insulin-dependent diabetes. While it may occur at any age, it’s primarily diagnosed in children and young adults and was therefore once known as juvenile diabetes.
TYPES 2 DIABETES:
In type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce sufficient insulin or the cells lose their response to its production. Known as adult-onset and insulin-resistant diabetes, it accounts for up to 95% of the population that lives this condition. Type 2 diabetes needs both medical and lifestyle considerations for its management.
Lifestyle Tips for Managing Your Diabetes
While it is important to eat healthy regardless of any condition, its importance increases multifold during diabetes. The type of food you eat, its quantity, and its combination play a crucial role in determining the diabetic prognosis. Here’s what you should consider while eating:
Keep an eye on carbohydrates and their portion
Carbs may impact the blood sugar levels but the key is to follow a diabetic management plan for adequate intake. If you are taking mealtime insulin, keep an eye on the number of carbohydrates so you may adjust your dose accordingly. The same can be said for other food groups as well. For diabetes, it is important to consider the portion size of each food group. By using measuring cups and scales, people can keep an eye on their portion size and eat whatever they want.
Have a well-balanced diet
Talk to your physician or dietitian to help you balance your diet with all types of food groups. While some carbohydrates present in the fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may benefit you more than others.
Synchronize meals and medications
If you take your diabetic medications after a small meal, there are significant chances of hypoglycemia i.e. dangerously low blood sugar. Similarly, too much food can lead to sugar levels to boost to hazardous levels. Talk to your diabetic management team to devise a coordinated plan for both meals and medications.
Physical exertion has tremendous benefits, including effective hyperglycemic management. When you exercise, the muscles utilize glucose for energy which lowers the blood sugar levels. However, you need to be vigilant about:
Talking to your doctor
Do not begin with a fitness regime without first consulting your physician. Ask them about the right type of exercise and its duration that would suit you better.
Following a schedule
The key to good health is a consistent workout. Sit with your doctor to figure out the right time to work out so it doesn’t affect the meal and medication schedule.
Keeping an eye on the numbers
Before you begin the exercise, know what blood sugar levels are appropriate for you. This reduces the risk of hypoglycemia, which can be life-threatening if not managed on time.
Monitoring your blood sugar level
Physical exertion is known to reduce blood sugar levels even for the next 24 hours, especially for newbies. If you take insulin or other hyperglycemic drugs, it may lead to reduced sugar levels. Therefore, it is impertinent to keep an eye on warning signs such as shivering, lightheadedness, anxiety, weakness, and others.
Dehydration can significantly affect blood sugar levels; hence you should drink plenty of fluids while exercising.
A wise strategy to prevent any unwanted incident, be prepared before you start to work out, like reducing your insulin dose. You may also monitor blood sugar closely for a few hours after high-intensity exertion. However, it is important to consult a physician before any practical implementation.
Physicians prescribe insulin and other hyperglycemic drugs to lower blood sugar when lifestyle changes do not suffice. Here’s what you should ensure:
Ensuring proper storage:
Adequate storage is crucially essential to maintaining insulin’s efficacy.
Whether you start a new OTC drug or experiencing certain symptoms, do not hesitate to consult a physician. Timely medical intervention can prevent the onset of various fatal incidents.
The body produced various stress-related hormones when the person’s sick that tend to raise blood sugar levels.
It is normal for people to experience changes in their appetite and normal activity when they’re sick. While it significantly complicates the diabetes management plan, it is important to stick to it nonetheless. Whether you feel nauseous, continue to eat and take your medication or it will lead to many serious consequences.
It is the liver that releases stored sugar in response to reducing blood sugar levels. However, when the liver’s occupied with metabolizing alcohol, the blood sugar level may not be increased in due time. Moreover, the blood levels continue to remain low even after a day of alcohol consumption. Therefore, it is important to:
Asking your doctor
Alcohol can exacerbate diabetic complications and therefore, it is essential to consult medical advice before its consumption.
Monitoring its intake
If you choose to consume alcohol, do not drink it on an empty stomach. Similarly, use a lighter drink and keep an eye on its calories.
MENSTRUATION AND MENOPAUSE
Changes in hormone levels before menstruation or onset of menopause can also fluctuate blood sugar levels. In such conditions, it’s important to:
- Monitor the patterns
By keeping a track of blood sugar levels each month, it is possible to trace any fluctuation during the cycle.
- Make adjustments
Your physician may ask you to make amendments to meals and daily activities to counter the effect of menopause.
Also Read: What is the Tooth Numbering System?
Don’t Manage Your Diabetes Alone
Diabetes can be a tricky condition to manage but you do not have to do it alone. Primary healthcare practitioners like internists are dedicated to helping their patients live a healthy life despite their blood sugar levels. You may visit a physician for management or participate in diabetic peripheral neuropathy clinical trials to manage specific symptoms.