What is Diabetes ?

General Health
  • What is diabetes?

    Diabetes is a condition in which the amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the body is unable to use it properly. Normally, the amount of glucose is carefully controlled by hormone insulin, produced in the pancreas. Insulin enables sugar in the blood to enter sugar in the blood cells where it can be converted into energy. When there is a shortage of insulin or if the available insulin does not function correctly, glucose will accumulate and diabetes will develop. Poorly controlled diabetes over many years can lead to damage to the eyes, kidneys and the heart.

  • What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

    In Type 1 diabetes you have an autoimmune condition where your cells kill off your insulin producing cells and your body no longer makes insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, your body does make insulin, but it is not used correctly by the body, or it is not enough to meet your body’s demands. There are many risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, including weight, fitness, age, genetics, diet and others.

  • What are the symptoms of diabetes?

    It is important to note that while some people will exhibit the symptoms of diabetes – such as thirst, fatigue, and so on – some people will not exhibit any symptoms of diabetes. The only way to know for certain is to be tested.

  • How many people in Ireland have diabetes?

    There are approximately 180,000 people diagnosed with diabetes in Ireland, and another 30,000 cases of undiagnosed diabetes suspected. According to figures released by the VHI in 2011, a further 146,000 could have pre-diabetes and are at risk of developing the condition. Experts believe that by 2020, 233,000 people in Ireland will have diabetes. It is estimated that 14,000-16,000 people have Type 1, and 160,000-180,000 people have Type 2.

  • What are the complicating illnesses associated with diabetes?

    If a person’s diabetes is not controlled, that person runs the risk of developing, eye, foot, kidney problems, heart conditions and / or nerve damage. Diabetes affects blood circulation, so it can take longer for people to heal too.

  • Role of the Pharmacist

    Pharmacists are the best placed healthcare professional to provide frontline support across a range of issues for diabetes patients. The pharmacist is a vital member of the diabetes team in educating and advising patients with diabetes, in addition to providing consistent and equitable lifestyle advice to diabetes patients.

    Community pharmacists are an important resource to:

    • promote diabetes prevention
    • increase early identification of diabetes
    • improve knowledge and skills of people with diabetes in dealing with their treatment
    • reduce the severity and incidence of immediate and late diabetes complications
    • improve the well-being of people with diabetes
  • Treatment

    The goal of treatment of people with diabetes is to keep glucose levels as near to normal as possible whilst avoiding complications. The best outcomes are likely to occur in patients who are actively involved in their own care.

    Patients who are actively involved in their own care will regularly undertake glucose monitoring, take their prescribed medication, follow a healthy diet and undertake regular exercise. This is no easy task and diabetes patients require ongoing encouragement with each of these aspects in order to achieve good outcomes.

TREATMENT

The goal of treatment of people with diabetes is to keep glucose levels as near to normal as possible whilst avoiding complications. The best outcomes are likely to occur in patients who are actively involved in their own care.

Patients who are actively involved in their own care will regularly undertake glucose monitoring, take their prescribed medication, follow a healthy diet and undertake regular exercise. This is no easy task and diabetes patients require ongoing encouragement with each of these aspects in order to achieve good outcomes.

Exercise

Exercise

You’ll benefit from exercise in a number of ways. It’ll lower your blood sugar, your treatment will work more effectively and you may lose some weight. Exercise also lowers your blood pressure, which is good for your heart. It’ll strengthen your muscles and joints. Finally, being in good shape will increase your self-confidence and help you feel good about yourself.

It is important that you choose the kind and amount of exercise that is right for you and that you will enjoy. There are many factors you need to consider when exercising, such as the risk of hypoglycaemia, so it is important to discuss your choice of exercise with your diabetes care team. Click here for more information.

Stress

Stress

Stress is a normal reaction to the changes, problems, disappointments and

challenges that people face. It is important for the person with diabetes to be aware of stress and to understand how stress can affect blood sugar. Coping with stress is an essential part of your diabetes care. It is important that you recognise when you are under stress.

When you are under pressure, the body reacts by releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisone. These hormones cause sugar to be released from the liver. Even though stress usually causes your blood sugar to rise, you may feel as though your blood sugar is low. That is because adrenaline can cause many of the symptoms of low blood sugar. If you are not sure whether your blood sugar is rising or falling, test it to find out. Only then can you take the correct action.

Diet

The role of diet 

Eating healthily throughout life increases the period of time for which each step can control your blood sugar. Controlling your weight to stay within a healthy target range also gives your body the best chance of staying on each step for as long as possible.

Creating meals using sensible proportions of the different food groups, and eating and snacking healthily are all important. Your diabetes care team will provide you with plenty of information and support

Drugs

Drugs used to treat diabetes

There are many different drugs that can be used to treat Type 2 diabetes. Many different terms are used to describe these drugs collectively. Among these terms are ‘anti-diabetic drugs’; ‘oral hypoglycaemics’ and ‘OHAs’(oral hypoglycaemic

agents). All these terms mean the same thing, so don’t get confused! We will use the term ‘OHAs’ since it is the shortest!

There are several different families of OHAs and the names of some of these are complicated, but each describes a drug or group of drugs that act to lower blood glucose in a way unique to that family. The main families of OHA are the sulphonylureas (SUs), the biguanides, the insulin sensitisers (or thiazolidinediones), the a-glucosidase inhibitors and the prandial glucose regulators.

The different families of OHAs all work in slightly different ways to one other. The one thing they have in common is that they all compensate in some way for the body’s inability to make and use enough insulin. Some stimulate the pancreas to make more insulin, some reduce the amount of glucose produced by the liver, some increase the sensitivity of the body tissues to insulin, and some slow down absorption of glucose from the gut. If taken in excess, many of them can make you hypoglycaemic.

You can contact the Diabetes Ireland at 76 Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin 1. Tel: 01 836 3022