Saturday, May 7, 2011

How To Reduce High Blood Sugar

People with high blood sugar levels, or diabetes, have a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes. At least half of the people who have diabetes do not know they have it.

Diabetes speeds up the development of atherosclerosis – the narrowing and hardening of the arteries that causes heart attacks and strokes. Untreated diabetes can also lead to blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage, leg ulcers and coma. Pregnancy is much more diffi cult for diabetic women and their babies are more likely to have birth defects.

What causes diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when the body fails to produce enough insulin, or cannot use it properly. Sugar then builds up in the blood. There are two main types of diabetes:

Type I Diabetes develops most often in children and young adults. Patients need to have daily injections of insulin to survive.
Type II Diabetes is the most common form -- almost 95 % of people with diabetes have this type. Patients with type II diabetes cannot produce enough insulin or cannot use insulin properly. It occurs mostly in middle-aged people, but children and young adults can also develop it, particularly if they are obese, have an unhealthy diet, and are physically inactive. The number of children and young adults with type II diabetes is increasing. This type of diabetes can usually be treated through lifestyle changes and oral medicines.

The causes of diabetes include hereditary factors, obesity, an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity. If you keep an ideal body weight, regularly take physical activity, and consume a healthy diet, you reduce your risk of getting diabetes.

How do I know if I have diabetes?
Some people have few or no symptoms at all until they start having serious problems. The early signs of diabetes include:
• tiredness and weakness;
• frequent need to urinate (pass water);
• unusual thirst;
• weight loss or gain;
• blurred vision;
• frequent infections;
• wounds that heal slowly.

A doctor can diagnose diabetes by measuring the blood sugar level using a simple blood test. If necessary, you may be asked to take a special drink with glucose (sugar) so that your blood sugar level can be measured afterwards.

How can I control my diabetes?
If diabetes is well controlled, the risk of developing heart attack, stroke, or heart failure will decrease. Lifestyle changes can often help to control blood sugar levels. These changes include:

• eating a healthy diet;
• avoiding foods that are high in sugars, fats, and calories;
• maintaining a healthy body weight;
• drinking less alcohol;
• staying active.

If lifestyle changes do not reduce your blood sugar levels enough, you will need to take medicine. Many people with type II diabetes can be treated with oral medicine alone. Some may need insulin injections, or sometimes both.

At the time of diagnosis, the doctor will do tests to detect any complications from the diabetes and will advise on treatment. If you have diabetes, you should have regular check-ups. You should also follow carefully instructions for making lifestyle changes and taking medicine. Be sure to ask questions if there is anything you do not understand.

You may have to measure the sugar levels in your blood or urine in between check-ups. Your doctor will show you how to do this if it is necessary.

Medicines used to treat diabetes:
Many people with type II diabetes can be treated with oral medicines (medicine taken by mouth). You can read more about them in the Annex.

If lifestyle changes and oral medicines are not enough to control the diabetes, the doctor will prescribe insulin. This is injected, using a syringe or a “pen-type” injector.

Patients with type I diabetes need insulin injections; they cannot be treated with oral medicine.

Watching your blood sugar levels
When you have diabetes, you have to watch your blood sugar level, because if it is too low or too high you could get very sick. When the blood sugar level drops, you could become nervous, shaky, and confused. You may be advised to carry sugar cubes or drops to take when you feel these symptoms. If level drops very low, it can lead to fainting, coma, and even death. If the blood sugar level is too high, it can also lead to a diabetic coma.
Here are some tips for keeping your blood sugar level correct:
• Never miss doses of your medicine.
• Do not stop taking your medicines without asking your doctor.
• Do not miss meals.
• Be careful about taking your medicine when you are sick and not eating as much as you usually do (e.g. When you have a cold and your appetite is less than usual and cannot eat as much as you usually do). Seek your doctor’s advice on this.

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