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Diabetes


  • Are You at Risk for Developing Diabetes?

     

     

    Diabetes means that the body has an inability to produce or use insulin. Insulin is an essential hormone that lets you use glucose as energy. Without it, glucose will build up in your blood and cause untold amounts of damage to your organs - especially your kidneys, hearts, nerves, and eyes.

    There are three types of diabetes: Type I, Type II, and Gestational Diabetes.

    Type 1 Diabetes

    Type I used to be called Juvenile Diabetes, because it was thought that only children got it. However, the truth is, anyone can develop Type I diabetes. There are two main risk factors for developing Type I diabetes (which means your body is no longer producing any insulin and never will produce insulin on its own):

    * Genetics and family history - If you have a mom, dad, sister, or brother with Type 1 diabetes, then you should get regularly screened for diabetes.

    * Pancreatic disease, infection or illness - There are many different types of illnesses and diseases that can damage the pancreas, causing Type 1 diabetes. If you have any of these illnesses it's important to get regular screenings.

    In these cases there isn't much you can do other than take care of yourself, eat right, and get regular screenings.

    Type II Diabetes

    Type II Diabetes means that your body still produces insulin but for whatever reason you cannot make use of it due to inadequate production or some other factor. The major risk factors for Type II diabetes are:

    * Obesity - If you are even a little bit overweight, your risk factor for Type II diabetes goes up. However, if you are actually obese you're at an even higher risk and it's probably a question of when, not if, you will develop Type II diabetes.

    * Sedentary - If you don't exercise for at least one hour three times a week, you are sedentary and your risk factor for Type II diabetes goes up. If you have a job that requires you to sit more than four hours a day and you don't make a special effort to exercise each day, you are also sedentary.

    * Genetics - If you have a family history of diabetes you're much more likely to develop it as well. This is especially true with first degree relatives like a mom or dad, brother or sister.

    * Glucose intolerance - This is really pre-diabetes. It simply means that you're at a high risk of developing actual diabetes due to the fact that you already have higher blood sugar levels than is normal.

    * Insulin resistance - If you have cells that resist the insulin your body is pumping out, keeping your blood sugar high, it can make your pancreas work too hard trying to clear the body of sugar.

    * Ethnicity - Hispanics, African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Alaska natives all have a higher incident of Type II diabetes.

    * Age - Even age can play a part, especially if you have any of the other risk factors. You can develop Type II diabetes at any age, but if you're over the age of 45 you're more likely to develop it if you have any of the other risk factors.

    Gestational Diabetes

    This is a condition in which women without previously diagnosed diabetes show high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. The main risk factors are:

    * Maternal obesity - It's important for any woman planning pregnancy to try to get their BMI normal through diet and exercise.

    * Genetics - If Mom, Dad, brothers or sisters have diabetes or had GD during pregnancy you're at a higher risk.

    * Member of a high risk group - The same high risk group mentioned for Type II diabetes is also at a greater risk for developing GD.

    * Large birth weight baby - Having a baby more than 9 lbs predisposes you to a higher probability of having GD.

    * Having GD in prior pregnancy - If you had it before, you may develop it again.

    * Polyhydramnios - If you have too much amniotic fluid, you are at a higher risk of developing GD.

    Regardless of your risk factors, make going to the doctor for a yearly exam, including a blood sugar check, part of your regular health monitoring. Catching problems earlier rather than later can save you a lot of problems, since having diabetes can contribute to a whole host of other health issues.

    By: Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND

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  • Complications from Diabetes

     

    There are many serious problems and risks for people with diabetes. These risks all go up exponentially if left untreated. Treating diabetes through both medication and proper diet can help eliminate or delay problems associated with diabetes. So if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, it's imperative that you and your doctor keep close monitoring of your health.

    Blindness - Even though you are treated, many people who have diabetes will still suffer from some form of eye problems, reduced vision and even blindness. Always let your eye doctor know that you have diabetes. Eye problems are so common in diabetic patients that sometimes the eye doctor is the first one to notice something wrong.

    Kidney failure - Due to the fact that diabetes damages small blood vessels, kidney problems and even failure is common among diabetics. Keep your doctor informed if you notice problems or start getting a lot of infections.

    Cardiovascular issues - One of the biggest killers of people with diabetes is cardiovascular illness. You can develop coronary artery disease which can lead to a heart attack and/or a stroke. Many people only find out about their diabetes when it's too late and they're in the ER due to a heart attack.

    Amputation - Due to the fact that diabetes damages small blood vessels, veins and nerves, some people with diabetes have trouble with their lower extremities. Injuries don't heal as fast, and they develop problems that eventually require amputation. Due to damaged nerves you may not realize you've even hurt your foot. Do regular self-exams to be safe.

    Pregnancy issues - If you have diabetes during pregnancy you are at greater risk of having a child with organ damage, and the mother is at an extremely high risk of kidney problems and even death without well-managed care. 

    Avoiding Complications from Diabetes

    When you have diabetes, regardless of the type, it's important to try to manage and keep your blood glucose as close to normal levels as possible to stop these problems. Depending on what type of diabetes you have, diet will have either an enormous effect or enough of an effect to matter.

    Follow your doctor's instruction on testing your blood. This depends on what type of diabetes you have, as well as some other factors. With Type I diabetes, your doctor will likely ask you to test at least three or more times per day - typically after meals, before and after exercise, before bed and sometimes even during the night.

    With Type II diabetes, depending on how much insulin you take (if needed), you're usually going to be testing in the morning after fasting, and after meals. Some people with Type II who can manage without insulin don't have to test as much.

    Your naturopathic doctor can also help with a specific diet. If you want to manage and control your diabetes to avoid complications, it's important to take it seriously and follow instructions.

     By: Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND

    Read more »
  • Diabetes Myths

     

    There are a lot of myths associated with diabetes that can easily be cleared up. It's important for people to understand that the medical community is not trying to hide the cure for diabetes from you to keep you on diabetes medication. The truth is, before treatments were available many people simply progressed until they died of complications from diabetes. Today, with the right knowledge you can live a long and normal life with diabetes.

    Eating Sugar Causes Diabetes

    While eating sugar is not the only cause for diabetes, those with diabetes (or people who want to live a healthy lifestyle) should avoid white sugar as much as possible. Instead of a high sugar dessert or drink, choose something else. Eating whole fruit for dessert, and fresh filtered water for hydration is just a much better choice. But, eating sugar is not the only cause of diabetes. However, eating too much can lead to a higher risk for diabetes along with other illnesses.

    All Overweight People Have Diabetes

    Many people are overweight their entire lives and never develop diabetes. While it does seem to be true on the surface, and being overweight you should seriously do something about it to avoid diabetes, the truth is that all overweight people will not develop diabetes. This is not an excuse to stay overweight, though. Instead, cut down on your calories, eliminate high fat, high sugar, highly processed foods from your diet and enjoy better health longer.

    Living with Diabetes Is Hard

    While having diabetes (especially Type I diabetes) makes life more challenging, it's not really hard. Simple tools have been invented to help you test and medicate in privacy without much problem. You'll have to be more careful with some things, but if you're aware you may live out a much healthier and full life than otherwise.

    Testing and Injections Hurt

    Needle sizes for injections and testing are pretty small. Many can't even feel the testing needle or the injection needle. It's hard to make yourself inject yourself to start with but once you get used to it, it will be much easier. It'll be second nature, and it will save your life.

    Diabetes Is Contagious

    While there is a high coloration of first degree family members having diabetes and you eventually getting it, it's not contagious. There is no worry about being around others with diabetes. And there is no reason someone with diabetes can't be around others. They are not at risk of contracting communicable diseases at a higher rate.

    Diet Always Cures Diabetes

    While diet and exercise can contribute to better blood sugar results and a healthier life overall, sometimes diet doesn't improve your numbers - even when you are doing everything you're supposed to do. Try not to be discouraged, listen to your naturopathic doctor, and do the best that you can.  In these cases, supplements can greatly help to control your numbers quicker and more consistently.

    While a lot of myths prevail about diabetes, it's important if you or someone you know has diabetes to read the literature and keep up to date on the most advanced treatments available to you through reliable sources. Check out anything someone tells you about a "cure" and always talk everything over with your naturopathic doctor.

    By: Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND

    Read more »
  • Gestational Diabetes (GD)

     

    Gestational diabetes occurs in a pregnant woman who previously had no symptoms or diagnosis of diabetes. While this can be a scary situation for the mother-to-be, it's not completely uncommon since about 4 percent of all pregnant women will end up having gestational diabetes.

    Causes

    All women who are pregnant end up with higher blood sugar and hormonal changes, and some will end up with hormonal changes that push their blood sugar into the realm of diabetes. If your body cannot produce enough insulin to help your body turn glucose into energy, your blood sugar will test high.

    There really is no one cause, but there are indications that mothers who are overweight, suffered from polycystic ovarian disease, or have family history of diabetes are at a higher risk of developing GD.

    Symptoms

    Gestational diabetes often presents with no symptoms. It's one reason regular screenings are done throughout pregnancy. Every time you go to your naturopathic doctor for a check-up they'll do a finger prick, and you'll also have a glucose tolerance test at least once during your pregnancy to rule out issues.

    Testing and Diagnosis

    The dreaded glucose tolerance test during pregnancy is where you drink a disgusting drink that is just sugar. You can sometimes pick the flavors but it is really terrible tasting. Then you just sit and wait for about an hour. You get a finger prick or a blood draw and you're all done. This test is usually done between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. If your test comes back questionable, you will be sent to do a longer test over a period of hours.

    Treatment

    Treatment of gestational diabetes is much like treatment for any kind of diabetes. More tests will be done to determine if you need insulin or if you can get by with just a pill, or diet or a combination of all. In most cases you'll be given a type of insulin either through injection or a pill. Your naturopathic doctor will also give you advice on the right type of diet so you know what you can eat.  In addition, you will be told to schedule regular exercises that is safe your you and your baby.

    It's important that you don't worry too much. With proper treatment you can avoid a lot of the complications associated with gestational diabetes and deliver a healthy normal baby. If the baby is super large, which can happen if the mother has GD, you may need to have a cesarean section to avoid further complications.

    Each case is specific in the treatment based on the results of the glucose and other tests. The important thing is to do what your naturopathic doctor and midwife tell you in this matter.

    By: Dr. Sandra Miranda

    Read more »
  • How to Help a Diabetic Child Live a Normal Life

     

    Having diabetes as a child is a tough road to have to travel. But, thankfully you can make it a little easier by planning ahead and speaking openly to your child and others about their disease. The child has nothing to be embarrassed about, and this issue should not be hidden. In fact, hiding it can be a lot more dangerous than letting everyone know, plus being open will make your child feel more normal rather than as if they have a bad secret to keep.

    Plan Ahead

    Every day has to be planned ahead to include meals, snacks, testing, and injections. For small children there are risks all over the place in terms of food that they cannot have. Because of this, it's important to let your child have some planned treats occasionally so they don't feel left out. The truth is, what's good for your diabetic child is also good for other children.

    They're Not That Different

    Children should eat a healthy, balanced diet, stay hydrated with non-sugar sweetened beverages and get plenty of activity each day. The only difference is that your child will need to monitor their blood sugar, and take breaks to either give themselves insulin or take medication. Oftentimes this means an adult will need to assist them.

    Dealing with Other Children

    If your child has diabetes, the best way to deal with other children is to make them part of helping your child say safe and healthy. Offer to teach your child's class about diabetes. Bring a fun interactive presentation and make your child feel special. A nice party with appropriate and healthy food to top it off will help.

    Talking to Teachers

    Teachers and administrators need to know everything they can about your child's condition. Some schools today do not have nurses on staff. Sometimes, if your child is not on a pump and you can't leave work to administer insulin injections, the teacher will be the one to do it and it'll be up to you to train them how to do it appropriately. Plan to spend a day or two at your child's school so that you can go through every procedure, and watch them do it as well so that you can feel assured.

    Be an Example

    Don't eat foods in front of your child that they cannot have. Don't have food around the house that your child cannot have. Live a healthy life along with your child, and let your home be your child's safe place away from temptations and being left out. It's not right to have those things around or at the dinner table if your child can't have them.

    Most children with diabetes will live long lives and maintain their health as long as they're taught how to care for themselves appropriately. Pay attention to their meals, calculate and teach them to calculate their carbohydrates, and ensure that they get their insulin on time in accurate dosages every single day.

    By: Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND

    Read more »

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