This is a guest post by Christopher D. Marshall
Diabetes is a chronic illness in which a person’s body does not produce the insulin required to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs in order to convert sugar into energy. Without it, sugars build up in the blood and damage everything they come in contact with.
Unfortunately, like many chronic illnesses, there is a lot of misinformation about diabetes floating around out there. I’m here to set the record straight and tell you some of the most important things to know about diabetes and those who suffer from it (from an actual patient).
In 2014, the United States Center for Disease Control reported that there are over 29 million diabetics in the U.S. alone. With this many people having the disease, and many undiagnosed, it’s important that everybody educates themselves on the condition. You could very well end up saving a life.
There are 3 Types of Diabetes You Should Know About
You may have heard that there are several forms of the disease, but what are the differences? Type 1 diabetes, also known as Juvenile Diabetes, is when the body no longer produces any insulin whatsoever, and thus this form of the disease requires daily injections of insulin to keep blood sugars under control.
Type 2 diabetes is not as severe and, in some cases, can be controlled with diet and exercise. With Type 2 diabetes, the body is still able to produce insulin. However, it either cannot produce enough insulin, or the body becomes insulin resistant.
Gestational diabetes involves high blood sugars specifically during pregnancy.
Not All Diabetics are Overweight
One of the most common misconceptions I hear from people is that all diabetics are overweight. I can’t remember how many times I’ve told someone that I am a diabetic only to have them tell me that I’m too skinny to have diabetes.
While some people with Type 2 diabetes have the disease because they are overweight, that does not mean that is the sole cause. In type 1 diabetes, which I have, the cause is genetic. Most people with type 1 are not overweight at all. In some cases they can actually be too skinny.
Diabetes Affects Both Body and Mind
We’ve already established that diabetes can wreak havoc on the body but what most people do not realize is the toll it can take on the mind. When a person’s blood sugar is not well controlled it can cause everything from confusion and disorientation to anger and/or depression.
These symptoms can often be the first warning signs of a diabetic crisis. If a person’s blood sugar level gets too low they become agitated easily, confused, and disorientated. If you see these signs in a diabetic it’s important to check their sugar level immediately. If their sugar gets too low they can go into a diabetic seizure, a coma, and even die.
If their sugar levels become too high they can also become easily agitated or depressed, and will eventually become confused and disorientated before becoming comatose. Therefore it is vital to check the person’s blood sugar before taking any action.
Sugar Can Actually Save a Diabetics Life
The majority of the time it is important that a diabetic avoid sweets, period. However, if their sugar level becomes low, they need sugar ASAP. The best form of sugar in this situation is that from fruit juice. It works quickly and is far healthier than the processed sugar you find in most sweets.
If fruit juice isn’t available, any form of sugar will do. Do not wait to administer some form of sugar for any reason. It only takes a few minutes before the diabetic can begin having a seizure. At that point, it is too late to attempt to administer sugar (it can often be dangerous to try and do so). If a diabetic has a seizure call 911 immediately.
What to do if a Diabetic Loses Consciousness
If a diabetic loses consciousness it is imperative that you call 911 right away. Do not attempt to give them sugar as you can cause the person to choke. The best thing you can do for them while waiting for help to arrive is to check their blood sugar so that you can tell the paramedics if the loss of consciousness is due to low or high blood sugar.
This will expedite the treatment of the person and may possibly even save their life. It can only take a few minutes for a person to have a catastrophic health crisis from low blood sugar. High blood sugar takes much more time, but is still just as dangerous if the person loses consciousness.
In conclusion, diabetes can negatively impact the entire body as well as the mind. The disease can be caused by many factors based upon which type it is. Being overweight is not the sole cause.
And finally, contrary to popular belief, there are times where a diabetic needs sugar, but once they are unconscious, only trained medical professionals are qualified to give aid. If they do pass out, it is vital that you call for emergency assistance. Hospitals are the only places equipped to handle this type of critical situation.
About Christopher D. Marshall
Christopher is a 32-year old freelance writer based out of the state of Washington. He has a background in Creative Writing, Politics, and Digital Marketing. He is currently going back to school for a degree in journalism.