Diabetes is a disease that affects the pancreas and its production of insulin, a hormone that helps the body use sugar (glucose) for everyday function, resulting in high blood sugar. Symptoms generally include significant weight loss, blurry vision, frequent urination, increased hunger, and thirst. Symptoms may develop between a few days to a few weeks and it is generally advised to seek medical attention if you begin to experience these symptoms. Diabetes can only be diagnosed following a physical exam, an examination of medical history and a blood test.

The 4 kinds of diabetes

While it is commonly believed that there are two types of diabetes, recent research has revealed that there are at least four different variations of the condition.

  • Type 1 Diabetes: This occurs when your pancreas stops producing insulin. It can occur at any age but usually starts in childhood.
  • Prediabetes: A warning sign that a person may be developing Type 2 diabetes. May be diagnosed but the goal of treatment is to prevent Type 2 diabetes from occurring.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: This occurs when your pancreas does not produce insulin correctly, resulting in sugar remaining in the blood. A high blood sugar level can harm other parts of the body, such as blood vessels, eyes, and kidneys. It can occur due to a lack of regular exercise, a poor diet, or a family history of the disease.
  • Gestational Diabetes: A temporary form of diabetes during pregnancy that can turn into type 2 diabetes if left unchecked without management. This occurs in pregnant women with a poor diet, lack of exercise or not properly maintaining weight.

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Childhood management of type 1 diabetes

Though type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, it most often develops during childhood. While it can be scary for both you and your child, with proper management, your child can still live a long and happy life. Both you and your child can play a major role in shaping this outcome.

Here are some simple guidelines to follow for type 1 diabetes management in children:

  • Work to control the child’s level of blood sugar to prevent further problems from developing later on in life.
  • Allow the child to manage his/her own diabetes but be sure to provide the support and guidance that he/she needs.
  • Schedule visits to the child’s doctor every 3 to 6 months to check on how well the treatment is doing. Do this also once the child hits puberty or becomes 10 years of age for developing symptoms.
  • Check for symptoms of high and low blood sugar in your child. If you suspect it may be too high or low, conduct a blood sugar test at home to be sure.

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Show diabetes who’s boss

Managing diabetes can be a daunting and difficult task, but thankfully there are ways of doing it that can help you stay on track and avoid stress or anxiety. Setting short-term goals for dieting and exercise can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle without much stress. Setting positive, non-food rewards can aid in accomplishing these goals and provide positive reinforcement. Seeking support from health professionals, friends, family, support groups or programs can also help keep you in check and give emotional support and information that you need.

More details on finding support and combating diabetes can be viewed, here.

Do I need to take diabetes medicine?

Treatment for all forms of diabetes revolves around exercise, eating right and maintaining a healthy weight. Though if you have type 2 diabetes, your doctor might prescribe you medicine. It’s important to take your medicine every day the way your doctor tells you to, even when you can’t tell if it’s working. Keep in mind though that the medicine is only a small part of this treatment. 

You will not likely need medicine if you have any other type of diabetes unless prescribed by your doctor.

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