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Why safe management of diabetes is so important

April 29, 2016

Type 1 diabetes is a condition that people tend to be born with or are diagnosed with early on in life, while the onset of type 2 diabetes typically takes place in later years, often as a result of obesity.

In both forms of the illness, the pancreas is unable to produce as much insulin as it needs to break down glucose for energy, meaning patients often need a helping hand to regulate their blood sugar levels and manage their condition.

Self-medicating with insulin injections usually plays a key part in managing the disease, but making changes to the diet can also help to regulate both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Why diabetes needs to be managed properly

Failure to manage either type 1 or type 2 diabetes effectively can be fatal. The consequences of mismanaging the condition can lead to significant fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which can cause the body to shut down and an individual to fall unconscious if they do not quickly receive enough glucose to rectify the situation.

People who don't keep on top of their diabetes can also experience problems with their sight, making everyday activities such as driving potentially dangerous.

The lack of adequate blood sugar levels can make it more difficult for the blood to circulate around the body, particularly to the lower, legs, feet and toes. A condition known as diabetic foot may manifest as a result, showing itself in painful ulcers across the feet. This can also lead to the onset of gangrene, occasionally leading to amputation being required to remove the infection and prevent it from spreading elsewhere.

Self-administering insulin injections

When people are initially diagnosed with diabetes, they will receive support from their GP or practice nurse in how best to manage their condition, with this often involving them being shown how to self-administer extra insulin to their bloodstream via injections.

This can understandably be a daunting prospect for patients, with many having to come to terms with their diagnoses, and conquer a fear of needles and puncturing the skin before they are able to administer their own medication.

A common way to practice this and get over any initial concerns is by injecting oranges or other soft fruit, as this provides patients with a similar sensation to puncturing the skin.

As with all treatments that involve needles, sharps safety is paramount, as there is always a risk of needlestick injury. Those who need to self-administer injections daily can even apply for a specialist sharps bin to be installed in their home to provide them with a safe place to dispose of needles to prevent blood contamination and potential injuries.

Hygiene guidelines also need to be followed, with clean needles required for each injection and the hands needing to be thoroughly washed before and after every jab. These measures are essential for preventing the cross contamination of blood, which could lead to the spread of infections, such as HIV and hepatitis C.

Diet and diabetes management

Diet plays a significant role in the management of type 2 diabetes, as it is often poor diet leading to people becoming overweight or obese that results in the condition's onset.

When the blood sugar levels get too high, the body needs extra help in regulating insulin levels, but this can easily be achieved by making changes to the diet.

For example, eating more wholegrains, fruits and vegetables and reducing the amount of fatty foods that are consumed can help to lead to weight loss, regulating the body's blood sugar levels along the way. When teamed with an increased amount of exercise, this weight loss can be significant.

Individuals with type 1 diabetes also need to ensure they are eating a healthy, balanced diet, with meals at regular intervals to help prevent their blood sugar levels from dipping too dramatically.

If a patient does begin to slip into a hypoglycemic state - this can cause them to act like they are drunk, so don't disregard this state as simply overconsumption of alcohol - it is vital that they are given extra sugar as soon as possible. A soft sugary drink is a good option, as liquid is absorbed into the bloodstream faster than solid food.

Image: Boarding1Now via iStock

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