Diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. It is caused by the body’s inability to produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and is treated with insulin injections or an insulin pump.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It is characterized by insulin resistance, in which the body’s cells do not use insulin effectively. It is often associated with obesity and is more common in older adults, although it is increasingly being diagnosed in children and young adults. It is usually treated with a combination of lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, and medications.
Blood sugar levels can vary widely among individuals, even within the same age group. The American Diabetes Association recommends the following targets for blood sugar levels. For most adults age 50 70 sugar level chart age wise:
- A1C: below 7%
- Pre-meal blood sugar: 80-130 mg/dL
- 1-2 hours after starting a meal: less than 180 mg/dL
However, these targets can vary depending on factors such as the individual’s overall health, physical activity level, and specific treatment plan.
Treatment options for diabetes
The goal of diabetes treatment is to keep blood sugar levels within the normal range to prevent the complications of diabetes, such as heart disease, nerve damage, blindness, and kidney disease. Treatment options for diabetes include:
Maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity are necessary for managing blood sugar levels. This may include following a meal plan that is tailored to the individual’s needs and incorporating regular exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.
There are several types of medications that can be used to help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. These include oral medications, such as metformin, and injectable medications, such as insulin. The type and dose of medication will depend on the individual’s needs and the severity of their diabetes.
Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. People with type 1 diabetes and some people with type 2 diabetes may need to take insulin injections or use an insulin pump to help control their blood sugar levels.
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM)
A CGM system is a device that continuously measures the individual’s blood sugar levels through a small sensor that is placed under the skin. It provides real-time blood sugar readings and can alert the individual to high or low blood sugar levels.
In some cases, bariatric surgery may be an option for people with type 2 diabetes who are obese and have not been able to control their blood sugar levels with lifestyle changes and medications. Bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass surgery, can help people lose weight and improve their blood sugar control.
Managing diabetes requires a combination of self-care and medical treatment. Self-care activities may include:
Monitoring blood sugar levels
This can be done with a home blood sugar monitoring kit or with a continuous glucose monitor. Check blood sugar levels regularly to ensure that they are within the target range.
Taking medications as prescribed
Take medications exactly as prescribed by the healthcare provider. This may include taking insulin injections or oral medications at the same time each day.
Eating a healthy diet
A healthy diet for people with diabetes includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limit sugary foods and drinks, as well as foods that are high in saturated and trans fats.
Getting regular physical activity
Regular physical activity can help improve blood sugar control and lower the risk of complications. Talk to a healthcare provider before starting an exercise program.
Monitoring for complications
People with diabetes need to be monitored for complications, such as heart disease, nerve damage, and kidney disease. This may include regular check-ups with a healthcare provider, as well as regular blood and urine tests.
Stress can impact blood sugar control, so people with diabetes need to find ways to manage stress, such as through exercise, relaxation techniques, or support from friends and family.
Smoking can increase the risk of complications for people with diabetes, so individuals with diabetes who smoke should quit.
People with diabetes need to get vaccinated against certain diseases, such as the flu, to lower their risk of complications.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that requires ongoing management to prevent complications. Treatment options for diabetes include lifestyle changes, medications, insulin therapy, continuous glucose monitoring, and in some cases, bariatric surgery.
Managing diabetes also involves self-care activities such as monitoring blood sugar levels, taking medications as prescribed, eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, monitoring for complications, managing stress, quitting smoking, and getting vaccinated. By following a treatment plan and taking an active role in their own care, people with diabetes can lead healthy, active lives.