Even if your diabetes has been under control for years, it can still get worse over time, necessitating more than one change in your medication regimen.
Understanding the function of the pancreas, which makes insulin, a hormone required to transport glucose (blood sugar) into cells used for energy, is essential to learning about the progression of diabetes. Glucose can build up in your bloodstream if your body doesn’t create enough insulin or your cells don’t react to insulin as they should.
Since the pancreas cannot produce insulin in people with type 1 diabetes, it must be administered intravenously. Your pancreas works overtime to produce more insulin to try and get cells to respond if you don’t have type 1 diabetes but have abnormally resistant cells to insulin (insulin resistance). This can harm the pancreas’ insulin-making cells over time, eventually preventing the organ from producing enough insulin to meet your body’s demands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that this causes an increase in blood sugar and paves the way for type 2 diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, having hyperglycemia or persistently high blood sugar might raise your chance of developing consequences like eyesight loss, heart disease, nerve damage, kidney disease, and foot or leg amputation (ADA). The good news is that these consequences can be avoided or delayed with effective diabetes care. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, exercising frequently, and taking medications as directed. These things can help you keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range.
How Your Life Will Change If You Have Type 2 Diabetes
Being a progressive disease, type 2 diabetes has the potential to deteriorate over time. As a result, you should change your medicine, diet, and activity goals. According to Marc Jaffe, MD, an endocrinologist from Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, “the pancreas first produces additional insulin to make up for insulin resistance, but in most people, Eventually, the pancreas is unable to produce enough extra insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Following a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, your doctor will establish blood sugar targets for you, suggest lifestyle modifications, and maybe prescribe medications to assist manage your blood sugar levels, according to Dr. Jaffe.
The next step in diabetes treatment, if these first methods aren’t working, is to adjust your prescription or add medication or insulin, according to the current recommendations from the Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes — 2022. But, according to Jaffe, even those who don’t initially require medication eventually will, as type 2 diabetes often worsens over time. In addition, your blood sugar goals might also need to be changed based on your overall health and history with diabetes control.
These recommendations also state that although many people with type 2 diabetes will eventually require insulin therapy, you shouldn’t be afraid or see it as a sign that your diabetes cannot be controlled.
According to Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, a certified diabetes care and education specialist (CDCES) in Franklin, New Jersey, and author of the book 2 Day Diabetes Diet.
The Best Diabetes Management Strategy for Your Age
Palinski-Wade notes that your body changes along with diabetes over time. For instance, as you age, you can develop a condition unrelated to diabetes, like osteoarthritis, or symptoms from it, such as nerve pain, which could make exercising more difficult, advises the expert. Such alterations to your body would call for modifications to your diabetes care strategy.
A CDCES might be an excellent addition to your diabetes care team. To help you negotiate your life changes, obstacles, and age-related issues, they can assist you in making adjustments to your diet, exercise routine, and medication management plan.
The following are some suggestions that your diabetic educator might make:
- Eat sensibly
There is no single diabetes diet, but your food choices might impact how much sugar is in your blood. Of course, your diet should be tailored to your unique needs, but you can benefit from Palinski-advice: Wade’s “Focus on filling your plate halfway with plant-based foods, such as vegetables, at all meals.” She also encourages you to develop the habits of reading labels and comprehending portion sizes — knowledge that will be useful for the rest of your life. In addition, the ADA advises keeping track of your daily carbohydrate intake and prioritizing nutrient-dense carbohydrates like those found in fruits and vegetables over highly processed, refined carbohydrates like white bread, sugary drinks, cakes, and cookies. Finally, you can create a meal plan with a registered dietitian or CDCES, who can also help you control your weight.
- Stay active.
According to the ADA, increasing insulin sensitivity can enable your body to use insulin more effectively if you incorporate resistance training and aerobic exercise into your workout routine. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Before beginning or making changes to an exercise regimen, consult your doctor.
- Aim to maintain a healthy weight.
Losing weight can help you control your diabetes and lower your risk of complications if you have diabetes and are overweight. The ADA claims that even a slight weight loss of 10 to 15 pounds can significantly improve diabetes control. For advice that applies to you specifically, speak to your doctor.
Monitor your Blood Sugar Levels more closely.
Your ideal blood sugar range may fluctuate as you age. Additionally, Jaffe adds, “As diabetes worsens, persons may need to begin or increase the frequency of checking their blood sugar levels, particularly when blood sugar levels are high or low, difficult to regulate, or [being treated with] insulin.”
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices, which use a sensor implanted under the skin to provide real-time measurements of blood sugar levels, maybe something you wish to discuss with your doctor. This technology enables you to react quickly to high or low blood sugar and provides helpful information to aid in food and activity modifications for the best possible diabetes management.
Living with a progressive and chronic condition like diabetes can be difficult. Still, you can manage the situation by taking care of yourself daily and visiting your doctor and CDCES frequently.