Each year in November, the team at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) comes together to educate individuals and families throughout the country about diabetes. NIDDK has developed invaluable resources covering everything from building better awareness to sharing warning signs and even what to do after diagnosis. This year, NIDDK is focusing on helping those with diabetes better manage symptoms and progression by building your health care team.
“Diabetes affects just about everyone, from the over 110 million Americans with or at risk for the disease to the many more people who care for them.” (NIDDK)
What Is Diabetes?
To understand what diabetes is, we first have to look at glucose and insulin:
Glucose is our main source of energy and comes from the food we eat.
Insulin is a hormone that our bodies create to help glucose from the food we eat get into our cells so it can be used for energy.
Diabetes occurs when our blood glucose (also known as “blood sugar”) is too high. It’s a result of our body not making enough or not using insulin well, so the glucose stays in our blood instead of moving to our cells for energy. (NIDDK)
What Does Diabetes Do to Our Bodies?
Glucose is an important source of energy for the cells that make up our muscles and tissues and it’s also our brain’s main source of fuel. Because the insulin hormone isn’t being used effectively, our cells are deprived of this glucose which means they can’t work properly. It also means that there is an excess of glucose in our blood that our bodies cannot dispose of properly. (Mayo Clinic) Over time, this excess of glucose in the bloodstream can cause serious health problems like heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. (CDC)
How Does Diabetes Happen?
There are two main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes – If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. Your immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, although it can appear at any age. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to stay alive. (NIDDK)
Type 2 diabetes – If you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well. You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. However, this type of diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes. (NIDDK)
What Can We Do to Prevent Diabetes?
While there isn’t a cure yet, there are lifestyle changes we can make to help regulate the amount of glucose in our blood including maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutrient-dense foods, and staying active. And of course, just like the NIDDK theme for the year, creating a team of care professionals to help you prevent or manage diabetes can make all the difference!
“Working with health care professionals who can offer you the personal care you need may help improve your health. And while it takes a team to manage diabetes, remember that you are the most important participant in your diabetes care.” (NIDDK)
Getting Extra Support with In-Home Non-Medical Care
According to NIDDK, a team of health care professionals can tailor your care for your specific needs. Besides a primary care provider, your health care team may include a nutritionist and a certified diabetes educator. We also recommend including a non-medical in-home care provider on your team to help with things like following nutrition and medical advice, maintaining daily movement, and getting assistance with transportation. One of the best ways to improve diabetes management is getting the help you deserve. Our in-home caregivers can come to your house or apartment and help with a number of tasks including:
House Cleaning Services
If you are interested in getting some extra help, reach out to your local ameriCARE to connect with compassionate, trained, reliable caregivers in your area!