Most people are not aware that they have Diabetes Mellitus, often simply referred to as diabetes, when first diagnosed. Some of the first symptoms a person has are sometimes subtle. The classic symptoms of extreme weight loss, excessive thirst, and urinating all the time only happen when your blood sugars get extremely high. If you fall into a pre-diabetic area then your symptoms maybe nonexistent. So what is one to do?
Are You High Risk?
Well first off if you are high risk, meaning overweight, seditery lifestyle, heart disease, or high blood pressure then you likely need to get a HgA1C (hemaglobin-A-1-C). The HGA1C will give you a percentage that your doctor can tell what your blood sugars over the last three months has been. The HGA1C works by calculating the percentage of sugar on a blood cell. Think of sweet tea, the more sugar in the water the higher amount of sugar will attach to each tea molecule. The great thing is a blood cell only lives for about three months, so every three months you get a new picture of what has been going on.
Now with this HgA1C number your doctor will put you in one of three areas: Normal, Pre-diabetic or Diabetic. If you are normal you are good to go, but if you are high risk as mentioned above you should still work on lifestyle modification and recheck your HgA1C in one year.
Diet and Exercise with Diabetes
If you are in either a pre-diabetic stage or actually diabetic this is where the hard work starts. First, you need to assess your diet closely. Take away all simple sugars including sweets, candy and non-diet drinks. After getting rid of these you need to focus on carbohydrate management. Start by switching all grains to whole wheat. If looking for a bread, sour dough is the best for having a low sugar load but if you don’t like the taste a good whole wheat will work well. After diet changes you also need to increase your daily activity and exercise. Finally, as a pre-diabetic your physician may start you on a medication if you are at high risk for heart attack or stroke. The most common medication for this is glucophage. Glucophage simply makes your insulin work better.
Of course if you are diagnosed with diabetes it can get a little more complicated. Over the next several weeks we will address different areas of diabetes including treatment, lifestyle changes, and preventative health practices for the diabetic.