First of all, diabetes is a chronic illness resulting in high sugar levels in the blood. There are three different types of diabetes known as Gestational diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2 (I will explain the differences later in the blog). Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to control blood sugar. Diabetes is caused by too little insulin, too much insulin or both.
To fully understand diabetes, it's important to learn how food is broken down in the body and then used for energy. A sugar called glucose enters the bloodstream, glucose is energy for the body. The organ known as the pancreas makes insulin. Insulin's job is to move the glucose from the bloodstream into different parts of the body like muscle, fat and the liver where it can be used as energy. See diagram above for an example of how this works. People who have diabetes have high blood sugar because either their pancreas does not make enough insulin, their muscles, fat and liver don't respond to insulin normally, or both.
|Insulin and syringes|
Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in childhood. Some patients are diagnosed when they are older than age 20. In this type, the body makes little or no insulin. People with this need to do daily injections of insulin. The cause of this type is unknown, but genetics, viruses, and autoimmune problems are considered.
Type 2 diabetes is a lot more common, and makes up most of the known cases of diabetes. In this case the pancreas does not make enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels normal, often because the body does not respond well to insulin. Many people with type 2 diabetes do not know they have it, although it is a serious condition. Type 2 diabetes is becoming more common due to increasing obesity and failure to exercise.
Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that appears any time during pregnancy in a woman who does not have diabetes. Women who have gestational diabetes are at high risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life.
There are many different risk factors for diabetes, which include: age 45 years and older, family history, gestational diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity, not getting enough exercise, and many more. Symptoms in all types include: blurry vision, extreme thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, hunger, weight loss. Since Type 2 progresses slowly, sometimes there are no symptoms at all. Type 1 symptoms also include: fatigue, increased thirst, increased urination, nausea, vomiting, weight loss in spite of increased appetite.
The immediate goals with diabetes is to lower the blood glucose level, and get the levels controlled. Also taking care of diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a complication of diabetes when the body cannot use sugar as a fuel source because the body has no insulin or not enough insulin, and fat is used instead. The long-term goals of treatment is to prolong life, reduce symptoms and prevent further complications from occurring. Treatment used is self-testing of glucose with a meter, exercise, diet, and medication or insulin use. There is no cure for diabetes, but with the right symptoms, the illness can be well-controlled for the most part.
It's important if you do have diabetes to fully understand what you need to do, to properly take care of yourself. Understanding the difference between high and low glucose levels by monitoring it with a meter, and how your body feels is one important way. Another way is to know what to eat and when, it's important to track how much sugar and how much carbohydrates are in food. Insulin is used in Type 1 diabetes, since their bodies do not make any insulin. Insulin only comes in injection form, and are usually done 1-4 times a day. The amount of insulin varies by the person, what you eat and certain lifestyles. Type 2 diabetes may respond well to diet and exercise, and sometimes pills are administered to help.
I did some research into whether or not diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis can be linked together, because I honestly had no clue. I found an article on Arthritis Today about this very topic. It stated: "New research shows that people with diagnosed diabetes are nearly twice as likely to have arthritis, indicating a diabetes-arthritis connection. If you have both conditions, you probably take different treatments for them. You probably see different doctors for them. But the lifestyle changes you make for one may be good for the other. Eating smaller portions of healthy foods and walking daily, for instance, are important parts of treating diabetes; rheumatoid arthritis benefits from the same activities". Diabetes starts off as a hormonal problem, but without proper treatment it can cause joint problems, especially after having diabetes for several years. Long-term diabetes has been known to cause diabetic arthropathy, which is a form of arthritis. However, because these two diseases are seen together, does not mean one is caused by the other. Taking good care of yourself, can help minimize the risk of developing the other if you have one of the two diseases. Arthritis Today also compared Type 1 diabetes and RA: "Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, as is rheumatoid arthritis. In people who have type 1 diabetes, the body attacks the pancreas, the organ where insulin is made, just as RA attacks the synovial tissue lining the joints. Inflammation is the common culprit". It's important to take care of yourself and always be aware of risks in your future to prevent them from occurring and prolonging your life. If you have RA and/or diabetes it's important to always get blood tests to monitor everything.