A few weeks ago, some people asked me about diabetes and I asked them, how many types of diabetes they knew? Well, the answers I got made me realise a lot of awareness is still needed. Welcome to #HealthMattersWithDrWeyoms and we are on about diabetes.
So we have Type 1 diabetes which is a serious, lifelong condition where your blood glucose level is too high because your body cannot make a hormone called insulin. So science is still not very definite about the cause of this type of diabetes and it has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. It just happens!
This is what happens: you have Type 1 diabetes, your body attacks the cells in your pancreas that make insulin, so you cannot produce any insulin at all. The thing is we all need insulin to live. Insulin does a very important job as it allows the glucose (sugar) in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our bodies (this is how we get the energy to do all our activities).
When you have Type 1 diabetes, your body still breaks down the carbohydrate from the foods and drinks you take and turns it into glucose (sugar). But when the glucose enters your bloodstream, there is no insulin to allow it into your body’s cells. More and more glucose then builds up in your bloodstream.
How do you know you might have Type 1 diabetes? So, before diagnosis, you will notice your body trying to get rid of the glucose through your kidneys, and that makes you urinate (pee) a lot. Urinating (peeing) so much out of the usual times leads to another symptom which is extreme thirst (drinking water more than usual). And because glucose cannot enter your cells to give you energy, you will feel extremely tired.
To try and get energy the body breaks down fat stores to provide fuel. That is why people often lose weight before discovering they have got Type 1 diabetes.
Now, these symptoms tend to come on quickly – over just a few days or weeks. Anyone who has these symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible.
When it comes to managing Type 1 diabetes, you need to follow the advice of your doctor and the team in charge. You will get insulin into your body by injection or a pump that gives you are constant supply. You also need to check your blood glucose levels are not too low or too high by using a device that helps with that several times a day. When you start taking insulin, you will begin to feel better and your blood glucose levels will go down but that does not mean you have to stop your treatment with the doctor as a typical Nigerian does.
This is important because, over a long period of time, high glucose levels in your blood can seriously damage your heart, your eyes, your feet and your kidneys. These are known as complications of diabetes.
Share your experience about living with or caring for people with Type 1 diabetes in Nigeria.
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