Diabetes (di-uh-BE-tez) is also called diabetes mellitus (MEL-i-tus). There are three main types of diabetes. You have type 2 diabetes. It may be called non-insulin dependent or adult onset diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, your body has trouble using insulin. Your body may also not make enough insulin. If there is not enough insulin or if it is not working right, sugar will build up in your blood. Type 2 diabetes is more common in overweight people who are older than 40 years and are not active. Type 2 diabetes is also being found more often in children who are overweight. There is no cure for diabetes but you can have a long and active life if your diabetes is controlled.
How did I get type 2 diabetes?
The signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes may happen slowly over months or years. Some people have signs and symptoms that are so mild that they do not notice them. You may have one or more of the following symptoms of hyperglycemia (hi-per-gli-SE-me-ah) or high blood sugar:
What is hypoglycemia?
People that have diabetes can sometimes have hypoglycemia (hi-po-gli-SE-me-ah). This is a condition that happens when your blood sugar level has fallen too low. It may be caused by taking too much diabetes medicine (insulin or pills). It may also be caused by skipping meals, eating less than usual, or exercising more than usual. Ask your caregiver for more information about hypoglycemia.
It is very important to treat symptoms of low blood sugar right away. If you have low blood sugar, eat or drink a source of carbohydrate. Some examples of carbohydrates are eight ounces (one cup) of skim milk, four ounces (one-half cup) of juice, or five to six hard candies. The following are signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia:
What is ketoacidosis?
Diabetes may also cause ketoacidosis (ke-toh-as-i--DO-sis). This is a condition that happens when your blood sugar stays too high for too long without being treated. This can cause your body to start breaking down body fats for energy rather than using blood sugar. Wastes called ketones are left behind. Ketoacidosis can be very serious and needs to be treated right away. Ask your caregiver for more information about ketoacidosis. The following are signs and symptoms of ketoacidosis:
What is Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome?
Diabetes may also cause Hyperosmolar (hi-per-oz-MO-ler) Hyperglycemic (hi-per-gli-SE-mik) Nonketotic (non-ke-TOT-ik) Syndrome (SIN-drom) (HHNS). This is a condition that happens most often in older adults with type 2 diabetes. It is usually caused by illness or an infection. With HHNS, blood sugar levels rise and the body tries to get rid of the extra sugar in your urine. If HHNS continues for a long time, you can become very dehydrated. This is a very serious condition and needs to be treated right away. The following are signs and symptoms of HHNS:
The best way for you to avoid HHNS is to do the following:
Can diabetes cause other health problems? High blood sugar levels may damage other body tissue and organs over time. Diabetes can even cause death without treatment. If your blood sugar is well controlled, other health problems may not happen. Having uncontrolled diabetes can damage your nerves, veins, and arteries (blood vessels). This can increase your chance of having a heart attack or stroke. Your chances of having eye problems, kidney problems, nerve problems, and infections also increase.
The most important thing you must do is control your blood sugar. Caregivers will work with you to help keep your blood sugar levels within a "target range." This means that your blood sugar is not too high or too low. To do this you have to find the right balance of diabetes medicine, food intake, and physical activity. Food puts sugar in your body and raises blood sugar levels. Diabetes medicine and physical activity lower blood sugar levels.
You can help control your blood sugar by eating the right foods. A diabetes nurse or a dietitian will help you learn what to eat and how food affects your diabetes. A diet high in fiber is helpful in diabetes.
You may need to take medicine to control your blood sugar. You may need to go into the hospital for more tests and treatments.
How do I check my blood sugar levels? Your caregiver will teach you how to use a glucose monitor. This is a small device that tells how much sugar is in your blood. There are many different kinds of monitors. All monitors use a small drop of blood. Usually the blood is from a prick on your finger. Caregivers will help you choose the monitor that is best for you.
Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.
Do's and Don'ts
Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.
Talk to your caregiver if:
You are having trouble thinking clearly.
You are feeling worse even though you are following your caregiver's directions.
You have signs of a heart attack:
You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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