How to Manage - and Live With - with Diabetes


An estimated 16 million people in the United States have diabetes melitus -- a serious, lifelong condition. About half of these people do not know they have diabetes and are not under care for the disorder.

Symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst and urination, constant hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, and extreme tiredness. If not diagnosed and treated with insulin, a person can lapse into a life-threatening coma.

People with diabetes can live long and fruitful lives if they manage their condition carefully on a daily basis. Much of the care involves trying to keep blood sugar levels from going too low or too high. When blood sugar levels drop too low-a condition known as hypoglycemia-a person can become nervous, shaky, and confused. Judgment can be impaired. Eventually, the person could pass out. The treatment for low blood sugar is to eat or drink something with sugar in it.

If the blood sugar levels rise too high, a person can become very ill from a condition known as hyperglycemia. Both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia are potentially life-threatening emergencies.

People with diabetes should be treated by a doctor who monitors their diabetes control and checks for complications. Doctors who specialize in diabetes are called endocrinologists or diabetologists. People with diabetes often see ophthalmologists for eye exams, podiatrists for routine foot care, dietitians for help in planning meals, and diabetes educators for instruction in day-to-day care.

In the future, it may be possible to administer insulin through nasal sprays or in the form of a pill or patch. Devices that can "read" blood glucose levels without having to prick a finger to get a blood sample are also being developed. Researchers continue to search for the cause of diabetes and ways to prevent and cure the disorder.

Podiatrists are an important part of the medical team that treats those living with diabetes. They can catch problems early if seen on a regular basis. Diabetes does not hamper quality of life and can be self-managed with the guidance of doctors such as podiatrists. (NAPSI)


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