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Diabetes Made Simple

Type 2 Diabetes or T2 Diabetes, involves the body’s inability to regulate and use sugar as a fuel, which in turns allows high amounts of sugar to circulate within your blood.

This untreated “High Blood Sugar” causes complications over time which includes:

1) Heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and narrowing of blood vessels throughout the body.

2) Nerve damage, leading to tingling, numbness, burning, pain or gradual loss of feeling that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and progressively spreads upward.

3) Sexual Dysfunction in Men: Erectile Dysfunction.

4) Chronic kidney disease (CKD).

5) Eye Damage: Diabetes increases the risk of Cataracts and Glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye), as well as damage to blood vessels at the back of the eye (retina), eventually leading to blindness.

6) Skin conditions, such as increased risk of bacterial and fungal infections.

7) Slow healing: Cuts and blisters can result in serious infections if left untreated. In some cases it can lead to toe, foot or leg amputation.

8) Hearing impairment.

9) Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can occur with T2 Diabetes. Obesity is linked to both conditions.

10) Dementia: Poor control of blood sugar levels is contributes to loss of memory and other thinking skills.

There are Two Main Causes of Type 2 (T2) Diabetes:

1) Decreased Production of Insulin: the hormone responsible for the transport of sugar into your cells.

2) Insulin resistance: where cells respond poorly to insulin and take in reduced amounts of sugar.

Risk factors that may increase your chance of developing T2 Diabetes include:

1) Obesity: Mainly Abdominal Fat distribution. Your risk of T2 Diabetes rises if waist circumference; Male: above 40 inches (101.6 cm), Female; above 35 inches (88.9 cm).

2) Sedentary lifestyle: (Couch Potatoes).

3) Poor Eating Habits: High carb diet: rice, roti (all white flour products), pasta, sweets, carbonated sweetened drinks, energy drinks etc).

4) Family history (if your parent or sibling has T2 Diabetes).

5) Prediabetes: when left untreated, can progresses to T2 Diabetes.

6) Pregnancy-related risks. There is a 50% chance of developing T2 Diabetes if you had gestational diabetes in pregnancy.

7) Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

8) Areas of darkened skin commonly found in the armpits and neck (Acanthosis Nigricans). This condition often indicates insulin resistance.

Signs and symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes include:

1) Increased thirst

2) Frequent urination

3) Increased hunger

4) Unintended weight loss

5) Fatigue

6) Blurred vision

7) Slow-healing sores

8) Frequent infections

9) Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet

10) Areas of darkened skin, usually in the armpits and neck

Explanation Of Diabetes Blood Results:

HbA1C tells us your average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months, which indicates if you are prediabetic, Type 2 Diabetic or if you’re managing diabetes well.

Higher HbA1C levels are linked to Diabetes complications (as listed above), so obtaining and maintaining your individual A1C target is very important if you have diabetes.

A normal A1C level < 5.7%

Prediabetes 5.7% - 6.4%

Diabetes > 6.5%

Target HbA1C is around 6.5-7%, but this target increases based on the individual patient, for example Age.

Checking your blood sugar readings at home helps your primary care doctor to understand if the medication is working for you and if your diet and exercise is appropriate.

Normal (Fasting blood sugar): < 100mg/dL

Impaired (Fasting blood sugar): 101-126mg/dL

Diabetes (Fasting blood sugar) > 126mg/dL

Normal (1hr After Meal blood Sugar reading): <180mg/dL

Normal (2hr After Meal blood sugar reading): <140mg/dL

Medications that we use to treat your Diabetes help to improve the way your body responds to your own Insulin (i.e decreasing insulin resistance), decreasing the breakdown of stored sugar and/ increase your insulin production.

Proper management prevents you from developing the complications associated with T2 Diabetes, therefore compliance with medication, diet, fasting and exercise can allow us to reach your target HbA1C (well controlled Diabetes) and give you the better quality of life.

Speak to a dietitian and they can assist with your nutrition.

Dr. Camille Ali, MD, is a practicing medical doctor at the Healthnet Clinic, JTA Complex, Couva, Trinidad (285-4641). She is also an on-call physician on Virtual Wellness.

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Health Disclaimer:

The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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