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Understanding diabetes: Jun'13

Tags: diabetes , diet , nutrition

Our dedicated nurse Caroline Exon, answered your questions about the different types of diabetes, how to spot the warning signs and diagnosing diabetes.

Also living with diabetes; spotting the signs for hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia and how to react in an emergency.

Ruth asked: Hi there. Would avoiding sugar completely prevent type 2 diabetes?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered:
Hi Ruth, it would be very difficult to completely avoid eating sugar for the rest of your life. There are complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates that break down into sugars. A healthy life style, eating complex carbohydrates (e.g brown rice) rather than simple ones (e.g chocolate) are more beneficial and stop the instant highs and lows. Type 2 diabetes can be caused by excessive simple sugars which the body cannot cope with. Hope this answers your question. Caroline

AXA PPP healthcare asked: We've had a question from Facebook;

Christine has asked "Why does it take so long for diabetets to diagnose? My Dr kept saying it was my fibromylygia.

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Christine, Type 1 diabetes is easier to diagnose that type 2 as the symptoms are more dramatic. The 4 T's are thirsty, thin, toilet and tired. Type 2 diabetes is more of a gradual process, can develop over a period of years and may only be picked up on a routine blood check. I hope this answers your question. Caroline

Heather asked: I feel that the symptoms for diabetes could be symptoms for other underlying illnesses too - are there any symptoms for diabetes that are more specific?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Heather, Type 1 diabetes is more specific with dramatic symptoms. The 4 T's Thirsty, Tired, Thin and Toilet (to excess). Type 2 is harder to diagnosis and yes the symptoms can be similar to other conditions. Type 2 diabetes can be found as part of a routine medical check up. Type 2 diabetes develops over many years, so it is more difficult for healthcare professionals to identify. I hope this answers your question. Caroline

Dav asked: What can I do to prevent foot disease?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Dav, If you have diabetes, you are entitled to annual foot checks. You should check your feet every day, checking for signs of redness, pain, damage to the skin, swelling or build up of hard skin. Also look for any changes in the shape of your feet. Dont go barefoot and avoid extreme temperatures if you think you have lost feeling in any part of your feet. Dont cut down the sides of your toenails as this could lead to ingrowing toenails. Ask to be put in contact with your local podiatrist. Wear good fitting shoes and maintain your blood sugar levels within normal limits. I hope this information is helpful. Caroline

Lorna asked: Are artificial sweeteners safe for diabetics?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Lorna, yes sweeteners are safe for diabetics. For more information visit www.diabetes.org.uk I hope this information is of help. Caroline

Matthew L asked: Can unhealthy diets cause diabetes or is it things like being overweight?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Matthew, Type 1 diabetes develops when the bodies immune system attacks and detroys the cells that produce insulin, as a result the body is unable to produce insulin and this leads to increase blood sugar levels which can damage all organ systems in the body. Type 2 is caused when the body does not produce enough insulin to maintain a normal blood sugar level or when the body is unable to effectively use the insulin that is being produced. Therefore an  unhealthy life style of a high sugar diet can lead to Type 2 diabetes. Being overweight also can increases your risk of type 2 diabetes. I hope this information is helpful. Caroline

Andy_M asked: Are there any associated illnesses in regards to diabetes?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Andy, yes there are associated illnesses in relation to diabetes, they include Retinopathy, Cerebrovascular disease, Coronary heart disease, Nephropathy, Neuropathy, Peripheral vascular disease in the lower limbs and Ulceration and Amputation for diabetic foot. A healthy diet, maintaining blood sugar levels within normal limits and regular check ups with your docter can reduce the risk of the above associated illnesses. I hope this information is of help. Caroline

 

tforsure asked: Hello - I've been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and am controlling it through diet and exercise.  How likely is it that I will remain diabetic after the birth?  Is there anything I can do to make sure it goes away?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Tforsure, gestational diabetes usually disappears after the baby is born, but women who have had gestational diabetes are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes in later life than other women. You may find that your GP recommends regular blood tests to monitor your blood sugar levels. Caroline

tforsure commented: Thank you!

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: I am glad I could have been of help. Caroline

CassieF asked: Does taking insulin cause weight gain?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Cassie, unfortunately insulin can cause weight gain. However controlling your weight is not only possible, but also an important part of your overall diabetes management plan. Your GP can refer you to a dietician to support you in this. Furthermore, by leading an active life, this will also help with maintaining your weight. I hope this information is of help. Caroline

Anonymous92 asked: Can drinking beer cause diabetes?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Anon, Beer cannot cause Type 2 diabetes. Drinking alcohol can contribute to the conditions that cause diabetes. Heavy drinking can reduce the bodies sensitivity to insulin which can trigger Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a common side affect to chronic pancreatitis, which is overwhelmingly caused by excessiving alcoholic drinking. We recommend that you stick to the normal recommended goverment guidelines. I hope this information is of help. Caroline

Julian asked: With my diabetes, are there any foods that I can eat as much as I want?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Julian, You can enjoy a wide variety of food as part of a healthy diet. Aim for at least 5 fruits/vegetables a day, eat 3 meals a day and include complex carbohydrates. Avoid high sugar content food in excess. For more support, ask your GP to being referred to a dietician. I hope this information is of help. Caroline

Vicky asked: My sister (age 35) was just diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I want to be supportive. What should I do? How can I help? What should I say to her?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Vicky. I am sure you sister is having to adapt to this change, and like most things in life, it takes time. Being supportive and listening to your sister will be of great help. Maybe your sister would like you to go along with her to her appointments so you can understand what changes she will need to make.

EmilyP asked: What are the first signs of diabetes to look out for?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Emily. The first signs to look out for in Type 1 diabetes is excessive thirst, tiredness, toileting, dramatic loss in weight. In regards to Type 2 diabetes, this can develop over a period of time and therefore the symptoms are harder to spot. I hope this information is of help. Caroline

Mark77 asked: Can eating sugar cause acanthosis nigricans?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Mark, acanthosis nigricans can be related to obesity and weight management is an important part of prevention. A diet that contributes to reducing insulin (low sugar) can also help prevent acanthosis nigricans. This condition is frequently found in people with diabetes or a tendancy to diabetes and is most common among people of african descent. I hope this information is of help to you. Caroline

Sara1 asked: What are the effects on the nerves that diabetes can have?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Sara, High blood glucose levels can damage the tiny blood vessels in your nerves. This can cause a tingling or burning pain that spreads from your fingers and toes up through your limbs. It can also cause numbness which can lead to ulceration of the feet.
If the nerves in your digestive system are affected, you may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation.
Diabetic neuropathy affects all peripheral nerves including pain fibres, motor neurons and the automatic nervous system. I hope this information is of help to you. Caroline

Anonymous93 asked: Is it ok for me to take a vitamin supplement now that I have diabetes?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Anon, diabetes uk generally does not recommend you take supplements, however if your diet is deficient in some nutrients then you may benefit from taking one. But this should be decided by your GP or dietician. I hope this information is of help. Caroline

Kally asked: Hi, I'm recently diagnosed with T2. Does having diabetes mean I have to miss out on eating out?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Kally, It is not true that if you have diabetes you will need to eat a special diet. You should eat a healthy diet high in fibre, fruit and vegetables and low in fat, salt and sugar.
Different foods will affect you in different ways, so it is important to know what to eat and when to get the right amount of glucose for the insulin you are taking. A diabetes dietician can help you work out a dietary plan that can be adapted to your specific needs. As well as help you plan for special occassions. I hope this information is of help. Caroline

Anonymous94 asked: Hi is there a way of home testing if you think you have diabetes or do you have to go to the doctor?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Anon, Unfortunately you will need to be tested by a healthcare professional e.g your GP. However the signs to be aware of for Type 1 diabetes are  as follows:

  • feeling very thirsty
  • urinating frequently, particularly at night
  • feeling very tired
  • weight loss and loss of muscle bulk (in type 1 diabetes)

In relation to Type 2 diabetes, the symptoms can be harder to identify as this is a progressive condition. Should you believe that you might have diabetes, please see your GP. I hope this information is of help. Caroline

dmdavis555 asked: I have a family history of diabetes I & II. And all those family members with it have oral/teeth diseases & issues. I have recently started having problems with my teeth. Can this be related?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered:
Dear dmdavis555, this is not necessarily related to diabetes, however people with diabetes are more susceptible to infection and such it is highly important to maintain a high level of oral dental hygeine and have regular check ups with your dentist. It is always beneficial to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I hope this information is of help. Caroline

Anonymous94 asked: How wide spread is late onset diabetes

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Anon, In the UK, approximately 2.9 million people are affected by diabetes. There are also thought to be around 850,000 people with undiagnosed diabetes. In the UK, about 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This condition tends to develop gradually after the age of 40, although in black African-Caribbean people and people of south Asian origin it tends to develop earlier, at around the age of 25. It is a worrying trend that that Type 2 diabetes (previously known as late onset diabetes), is now being diagnosed more and more in younger people and even in children. This is likely to be due to children being less active and a higher number of children being overweight. I hope this information is of help. Caroline

Ruth asked: Can diabetes be related to any other auto-immune diseases? I have hypothyroidism, does this put me more at risk?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Ruth, Diabetic patients have a prevalence of thyroid disorders compared with the rest of the population. Both conditions are part of the endocrine system and therefore there is always a  risk and both can be associated with the other.  Leading a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet should help prevent complications of either condition. Caroline

Anonymous95 asked: Can people with diabetes follow a vegetarian diet?

Dedicated Nurse - Caroline Exon answered: Dear Anon. yes diabetics can follow a vegetarian diet, however you should make sure that all food groups are included, especially complex carbohydrates such as pulses, rice, bread, potatoes. You might want to discuss this further with your GP. I hope this information is of help. Caroline

AXA PPP healthcare: Thank you for all your questions, and thank you to Caroline for her answers. We hope they have helped you.

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