Thus, a healthy diet, weight control, exercise, reducing stress and not smoking are ways you can prevent diabetes. Know that it's also important to diagnose it early to prevent or delay other health complications. A simple finger-prick test at your local chemist or clinic can show whether you may have diabetes within a minute.
Here are the signs and symptoms of diabetes:
• Unusual thirst;
• Frequent urination;
• Unusual weight loss;
• Extreme fatigue or lack of energy;
• Blurred vision;
• Frequent or recurring infections;
• Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal, boils and itching skin; and
• Tingling and numbness in the hands or feet.
What's at stake?
There are three main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes – the pancreas stops producing insulin. It usually starts in young people under the age of 30, including very young children and infants. The onset is sudden and dramatic. People who have type 1 diabetes must inject insulin to survive. You'll need to balance insulin dosages with the food you eat and exercise programmes.
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Type 2 diabetes – is caused when the insulin, which the pancreas produces, is either not enough or doesn't work properly. About 85 – 90% of all people with diabetes are type 2. Many of these people aren't diagnosed early enough.
Most type 2 sufferers are over the age of 40. They're usually overweight and don't exercise. You can sometimes treat type 2 diabetes without medication. Often loss of weight alone will lower glucose levels.
Your diet and exercise play important roles in managing diabetes. Tablets may be prescribed to help improve control, however, many type 2's will eventually use insulin.
Although type 2 alone isn't always life threatening, it's more dangerous than type 1. It starts gradually and it's hard to detect. High blood glucose levels over a long period of time can cause serious damage to the delicate parts of the body. It can lead to blindness, heart attackstroke, kidney failure, impotence and amputation.
Gestational diabetes – is a temporary condition that happens during pregnancy. Both mother and child have a higher risk of developing diabetes in the future.
What's the danger?
Here are the risks for developing diabetes:
• Being aged 35 or over;
• Being overweight (if you carry most of your weight around your middle);
• Being a member of a high-risk group (in South Africa if you're of Indian descent you are at particular risk);
• Having a family history of diabetes;
• Having given birth to a baby that weighed over 4kg at birth, or had gestational diabetes during pregnancy;
• Having high cholesterol or other fats in the blood; and
• Having high blood pressure or heart disease.
How to protect yourself
Here are five things you should know:
Food is important in keeping your body healthy, whether you have diabetes or not.
1. General guidelines for choosing food
• Limit your fat intake;
• Include a food from each of the food groups at each meal;
• If you are overweight, eat smaller portions and reduce your intake of fat;
• Limit the amount of alcohol you drink;
• Control your weight;
• Choose a nutritious diet from a variety of foods;
• Cut back on salt;
• Drink plenty of water; and
• Visit a dietician to work out a diet plan suitable to your own particular lifestyle.
2. Exercise – Regular exercise helps your body lower blood glucose, promotes weight loss, reduces stress and enhances overall fitness and enjoyment of life.
3. Weight Management – Maintaining a healthy weight is very important to control of type 2 diabetes. See a registered dietician to work out a meal plan to help you lose weight.
4. Medication – You can control type 2 diabetes through exercise and meal planning. You might need diabetes tablets andor insulin to help the body make or use insulin more effectively.
5. Lifestyle Management – Learn to reduce your stress levels so you can manage your blood glucose levels. Smoking is particularly dangerous for people with diabetes.
Final Word: For more information and support go to www.diabetessa.co.za