Understanding diabetes is important because it is a disease which can cause life-threatening complications if uncontrolled but allows an almost normal life if managed well. An essential feature of diabetes is raised blood glucose levels. The body’s hormone which checks glucose levels is insulin. Insulin lowers blood glucose levels by promoting its uptake by tissues to use as a fuel. When insulin production is diminished or tissues become resistant to its effect, diabetes occurs.
The National Diabetes Statistics Report states that over 29 million Americans have diabetes. That is quite significant as it means that almost every tenth person is affected. Studies have also proven that it is the seventh leading cause of death. Even those who do not die directly because of diabetes may find that their life expectancy has been reduced by several years. Additionally, the risk of heart disease is doubled and diabetes can cause some fearsome complications such as kidney failure, blindness, and lower-limb amputations. Diabetes is on the rise despite the billions of dollars that are spent every year on related healthcare and treatments.
Diabetes symptoms, for both type 1 and 2, include unexplained weight loss, excessive thirst and hunger, tiredness, blurred vision, increased urination, infections, and slow-healing bruises or cuts. Symptoms can be fairly subtle, so it is unsurprising that many people don't realize that they have diabetes for a long time. This is especially true for type 2 diabetes, which is the more common form of the disease. This also means that many people may be first diagnosed when they present with the symptoms of a complication. People who are overweight or obese are more prone to developing type 2 diabetes. Losing weight through a healthy diet and sufficient exercise can significantly reduce this risk. Family history and ethnicity are types of risk factors that cannot be controlled but individuals can reduce their overall risk of diabetes by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
What is Diabetes?
Introduction to Diabetes: Look through a collection of resources on topics ranging from prediabetes to the main types of diabetes, what to do when diagnosed, and how to manage diabetes in children and pregnant women.
An Overview of Diabetes: Patients and their family members can get an overview of the disease and read about several emerging issues. This resource is provided by the government's Healthy People program.
Diabetes Facts: For some fast information about diabetes, consult this virtual fact sheet from womenshealth.gov. Answers to common questions and concerns are offered, with real stories of how patients learned to manage their diabetes.
An Explanation of Diabetes: This article from the New York Times' Health Guide provides readers with a description of diabetes causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
Diabetes Glossary: If you or a loved one has received a recent diagnosis of diabetes, have a look through this glossary from the CDC to understand some of the words and terms commonly used in discussing this disorder.
Diabetes Resource: To learn about diabetes, have a look at this comprehensive online resource from the CDC. It covers questions about diabetes, statistics and trends, related medical news, and educational articles for patients and professionals.
Guide to Diabetes: Find out all about diabetes, its statistics, ongoing research, and related resources. The information is supplied by the government's Department of Health and Human Services.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Diabetes Symptoms: The American Diabetes Association (ADA) provides a basic list of symptoms that diabetic patients can expect. If you have been experiencing changes in your health, this list is worth consulting.
When to Be Concerned: Since diabetes symptoms are not always very distinct, the Mayo Clinic has prepared a guide to consult. It describes symptoms which manifest more strongly and suggests when to see a doctor.
Diabetes for First-Time Patients: New diabetes patients will undoubtedly benefit from this reassuring guide compiled by the ADA. It fully discusses how to live well with type 1 or 2 diabetes.
Testing Methods: Before being tested for diabetes, it can be helpful for patients and their family members to browse through this overview of diabetes testing methods from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC).
Diagnosing Diabetes: This link offers plenty of information to patients regarding the ways in which diabetes is diagnosed and managed.
Glucose Tests: The AACC has prepared this useful guide for people who have been recently diagnosed with diabetes. It describes glucose tests and how to interpret the results.
Risk Factors, Prevention, and Screening
Diabetes Risk Factors: A feature by WebMD for the general public shows that some of the major risk factors for type 1 diabetes include genetics and pancreatic infections and for type 2 include obesity, insulin resistance, and ethnicity.
Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test: Just about anyone can benefit from the ADA's virtual diabetes risk test. It only takes a couple of minutes to complete but can effectively point out an individual's risk for the disease.
Lowering the Risk of Diabetes: You can learn more about type 2 diabetes from the NDIC website and find out how to reduce or eliminate your risk.
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes: Healthfinder.gov outlines simple but effective steps to prevent diabetes or delay it. Some of the steps are maintaining an active lifestyle and healthy diet and lowering cholesterol levels.
How to Take Control: The Mayo Clinic shares some great tips for diabetes prevention.
Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP): The NDIC discusses the results of a large multicenter study that indicate that type 2 diabetes is preventable through weight loss and physical activity.
Disease Management and Treatment
What Happens After Diagnosis: People who have been diagnosed with diabetes can consult the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) through this link to learn how to manage it and prevent complications.
Managing Diabetes: This Mayo Clinic article describes how diabetes requires many life changes for proper management. Examples of these are changes to one's diet, activity levels, schedules, and medication.
Checking Blood Sugar Levels: This is a detailed guide on checking blood sugar levels. It lists the supplies needed and describes how to perform the test.
Devices for Checking Blood Glucose: Before purchasing blood glucose testing devices, do grasp the information presented in this article by the FDA.
Your Glucose Meter: New patients can read this guide by the FDA to learn about the parts of a glucose meter and some helpful tips for testing blood sugar.
Tight Diabetes Control: What does tight control mean? What are its advantages? Are there any disadvantages? Check this link to find the answers.
Staying Active with Diabetes: Diabetics who lead sedentary lifestyles should read through this article by the NDIC to find out how exercise can improve their condition and where they can start.
Diabetes and Holidays: During holidays and special festivals, it can be difficult to refrain from eating treats and sweet foods. The CDC discusses this issue and offers helpful tips to diabetics on how to manage on such occasions.
The Team Approach: Appropriate management of your diabetes requires help from a team of medical professionals. Learn more about this on this page from the ADA site.
Coping After Being Diagnosed: The time immediately after the diagnosis can be quite traumatic and stressful for many people. A valuable collection of resources from the ADA offers information on how to get through it, along with articles for family members and caregivers so that they may help the patient through this crucial time.
Helping a Loved One Cope with Diabetes: Learn how to help a loved one cope with their condition from this insightful article by the NDEP.
Living with Diabetes: While many diabetics may feel alone after their diagnosis, it helps to hear about coping strategies from others with the same disease. This blog on the Mayo Clinic site discusses how to cope with diabetes and manage it successfully.
Anger and Diabetes: A common emotion that arises when someone is diagnosed with diabetes is anger. The ADA explains why it occurs and how people can use that emotion in a positive manner.
Stress and Diabetes: Just as stress affects people on a regular basis, it can also affect diabetics. Unfortunately, however, it can further complicate their condition. Check this link to find out about the symptoms of stress and how to cope with it.
Managing Stress when you have Diabetes: Diabetics should be careful to reduce their stress levels and try to control it as much as possible. WebMD offers some great tips to tame stress.
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Written by David Patterson and last updated 2015-04-07