Cause of type 1 diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes is due to an absence of insulin secretion by the pancreas from birth. Most of the cases of type 1 diabetes are caused by unknown triggers which results in varying amounts of destruction of beta cells in a genetically susceptible person. However, in some cases the pancreas can be damaged by auto immune diseases in which the body cells are destroyed by some cells due to unknown causes. A simple viral fever may cause the virus to attack the heart or pancreas leading onto diabetes.
Younger adults will show slower destruction of the β cells in comparison to younger children .
There are plenty of Type 1 Diabetic patients who are living well into the nineties. They all went through a tough time when diabetes management was at a very primitive stage. There were no sophisticated blood glucose monitors, no good hospitals or technology to support them, no education materials, no support groups or no insulin as well. People had to monitor the urine and be on a starvation diet to try and find a cure for this. Insulin changed the way these patients handled life. The people who have lived long to see the 2 world wars, have told they have learned this from life: “ Learn to live in spite of having Diabetes” and “take one step at a time” and “Live life to its fullest- enjoy every moment of it and thank the Almighty”.
Today there are so many advances in the field of science which brought about the discovery of insulin, the glucometer devices which could even store data of previous readings, smart phones which could guide one to monitor ones diet, remind to take medicines and even plot their progress, have alternate sources to deliver insulin, alternate devices to check sugar levels painlessly and stem cell therapy and transplantation of the pancreas.
Type 1 diabetes mellitus used to be called insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. It used to be associated with children alone. There are a lot of young people and adults who are being diagnosed as having type 1 diabetes.
Those people who lose weight dramatically, do not thrive properly, get admitted for vomiting and abdominal pain are found to have diabetes mellitus type 1. It is generally seen younger the patient at time of diagnosis of diabetes, higher the chances of having type 1 diabetes. There are some people who are diagnosed with diabetes when they visit the hospital with either failing vision or kidney problems. There is a higher incidence of young adult presenting with type 2 diabetes as well.
Blood tests such as GAD 65 antibodies ( Glutamate acid decarboxylase), IAA ( Insulin auto antibodies), ICA ( Islet cell antibodies) , are some of the commonly used tests run to diagnose type 1 diabetes. However, all these may not be positive in the early stages as that depends on the damage to the islet cells of pancreas. The estimation of Insulin levels and its precursor, C peptide done in fasting and after food are also used to define type 1 diabetes.
Though many genetic markers have been identified, the widespread use of genetic screening is yet to be justified and implemented
Insulin still remains the mainstay of treatment and is usually a lifelong. There is no magic cure yet for Type 1. However, research is still on to the efficacy of a stem cell therapy. Islet cell transplantation and pancreas transplantation have also been done at selected centers round the world, but the prohibitive costs, the post transplantation medications to reduce the rejection and the uncertainty of life long cure have not led to much enthusiasm.
There are advances coming up in the self monitoring devices and also novel ways to administer insulin.
Young adults or children must be informed about a partial remission of the diabetes where either a low dose of insulin or no insulin may be needed in the early phase. This is called the “honeymoon” phase of diabetes when there will be some activity of the pancreas but not enough to maintain sugar levels.
One has to take multiple injections a day to match the food intake just because the pancreas refuses to secrete insulin which keeps the sugars down. Some may need to take a combination of long acting insulin at night time and one with each main meal of the day. There different insulin preparations which have been detailed in the post titled,”insulin in diabetes”. Insulin can be given by pens which are easy to use and have small needles. Some patients may need multiple doses. Some may need insulin to be administered by a pump which delivers insulin in small doses based on food intake and physical activity.
Insulin has to be stored in the refrigerator ( not the freezer compartment) when not in use.
Never skip a dose of insulin as the sugars may increase and cause even an unconscious state which can kill if not treated in time.
Likewise, if you inject too much, the sugars can drop to dangerously low levels and can make you unconscious and can kill.
Have a sugary drink or sugar at hand always.
When you feel sweating or shivering, it can mean the sugars are low.
Remember to change the needles daily.
Rotate the site of injection daily. These can be given on the thighs and abdomen. Pinch a fold of skin and inject at right angles. Do not inject if the skin is too hard on pinching or dark in color. Normally the rapid acting insulin is given on the abdomen and the long acting given on the thighs.
When sick, it is a common mistake to either reduce the dose of insulin or omit the dose as there is reduced food intake. However when sick, the hyperglycemia demands a slightly higher dose of insulin.
Teenage girls can have eating disorders and may omit the dose of insulin with a hope to control their weight, with grave consequences.
As you grow up or have stress during exams, job interviews, marriage or family matters, the sugar levels can increase. As you grow up, the insulin levels will also increase.
If having a party or attending a buffet, you are allowed to take insulin in two separate doses like 30% before the party and 70% after the party. If you take 30 units at night of rapid insulin, take 10 units before the party and 20 units after the party to cover the food intake.
Be careful of alcohol intake and dancing after that as the sugars can drop down.
Advantages of insulin pumps over multiple daily injections :
• Ease of calculation
• Less insulin stacking
• More reliable
• Very low doses 0.01U to 0.025 can be given in those using the pump.
• Fewer skipped doses
• Less hassles with time zones
• Discreet insulin delivery
Requirements before embarking on insulin pumps:
• Should be willing to check blood glucose many times and should be able to count carbohydrates
• In toddlers, the pump can be placed between the shoulder blades or butt.
• The tip of the cannula of the infusion tubing can be blocked by the inflammatory cells causing errors in dosing.
• The settings in a young child should have high and wider range, in those with hypo unawareness, set the hypoglycemic setting higher, and those who are pregnant, set the narrower and lower range.
The accessories have to be changed once every 3 days. This is a costly matter.
Checking the blood glucose:
You need to check sugar levels quite frequently. Ideally, a pre meal and 2 hour post meal sugar check will be needed.( 7 tests a day) This will have to be done at the initial stages till you know the “signals” your body sends. Some have to check their sugars when they have had a new food or while at a party. There are machines that require a lot of blood sample for the testing and some which need very less. The finger pricks are done at the tips ( in medical terms, the pulp) of the fingers. This is a very sensitive area and the repeated pricks for the rest of your lives can affect the sensation of these wonderful parts. You will need to have a glucometer machine that will check the blood sugar and blood ketones as well. Most of the machines have data storage facilities and also some can be connected to a network and data can be transferred to a remote system such as ones parents or doctors or nurse. ( Read more of this in the post titled, Diabetes and Digital age )
Self monitoring of blood glucose can help detect low sugar or high sugar levels, help titrate the dose of insulin, can be used to assess sugar levels when sick or pregnant and also to check how the levels are after a workout.
Earlier good control of sugar levels will delay the onset of the feared complications of diabetes such as the retinopathy ( eye) , neuropathy( nerves), nephropathy( kidney), heart disease.
The variability in sugar readings are more important than a stray high reading.
Good sugar control will lead an improvement of
• 76% in incidence of retinopathy
• 47-54% reduction in progression to severe eye problems
• 39% reduction in onset of microalbuminuria
• 54% reduction in onset of kidney diseases
• 60% reduction I onset of developing neuropathy
• 42-57% reduction in onset of heart related diseases.
Periodic Check up:
The parents will accompany the child to get more understanding of the management. It is important to have the eyes checked, the feet checked and urine checked for microalbumin leak once annually after the age of 12 years. It is important to check the blood pressure and lipid profile if above 12 years of age. The 3 month average of sugar, HbA1C is to be done thrice a year. The most recent guidelines state a 3 month average sugar level of 7.5% for any age of child till the age of 18. The values were higher in the previous years.
The complications are the same as those which a person with type 2 diabetes can have. The success of the quality of life depends on the near normal levels one can attain. It can get frustrating and depressing at times and definitely may even lead to quarrels with parents. They are concerned about the good health, though some parents may become over protective. Having high blood glucose can poison the body and slow it down! It can affect studies as well. Diabetes can affect the kidneys, eyes, heart, nerves and sensation of the limbs. Maintaining near normal sugars is the key to success to prevent these complications. Regular check up with the doctor or nurse can help lead a near normal life. If there is a problem such as difficulty in seeing while at class, please inform the teacher or parents. They may not understand the magnitude of the problem and may think it is way of escapism. Most of the schools have a medical wing having a trained nurse. A note from the health care provider can help the school authorities to take care. The child should be allowed to snack if low sugar levels are detected while in class, must have their parents notified in an emergency, but must not be restricted from regular playing and activities. Take care of the feet- use footwear all the time even while on the beach. You may accidentally cut yourself which can take a long time to heal. Check your feet daily. Use cotton socks and use one size extra large footwear. Use a moisturizing cream on the feet taking care not to apply it between the toes. If you cannot feel either hot or cold sensations, please mention to your doctor or nurse urgently.
Take care of the eyes and tell your parents or your teacher if there is a problem. They can guide you to the doctor or nurse. Remember that eyes can get cloudy when the sugar levels increase. Brush the teeth well and take care of them by visiting the dentist once annually.
You can exercise like other people. You may tire easily. Before exercising, check your sugar levels , if high, check on blood ketone levels as well. Do not exercise if low sugar levels are seen on checking. If blood ketone levels are more than 1.5 mmol/L, give yourself 15% of the basal insulin with a pen separately. Drink a glass of non sugar drink every hour. Check again after an hour. If not feeling well, losing consciousness or dehydrated or vomiting with abdominal pain, go immediately to the hospital.
Do not exercise immediately after injecting insulin as it can get absorbed soon and cause low sugars. It depends on which part of the body you inject and which group of muscles you exercise. If you inject onto thighs and go for jogging, it will be absorbed faster. If sugars are low before the exercise, have a carb snack ( biscuits or juice) before the program. Do not give bolus injections for the snacks taken to prevent low sugars.
Warm up for 5 minutes, stretch for 5 minutes and then go into activity for about 20 minutes and allow 5 minutes for cooling down. You are to drink non sugary fluids every half an hour. You can have a carbohydrate snack- a biscuit or a fruit juice to bring up low sugars. CHOCOLATES DO NOT INCREASE THE SUGAR LEVELS INSTANTLY DUE TO ITS HIGH FAT CONTENT. Preferably do not use heavy weights while exercising as it increases the pressure in your eyes which can cause a bleed into the eyes. If you go for a sprint( high intense exercise), the sugars will increase! This is due to the increase in some hormones which increase the sugar levels.
If the doctor says you have retinopathy ( eyes are affected by Diabetes), avoid lifting heavy weights and strenuous workouts.
Read more in the blog: Exercise and Diabetes
If having high blood sugar:
This is a medical emergency. If the blood sugars are high and if there are ketones in the blood the following can be done before going to the hospital.
Blood glucose Blood ketones Insulin dosage
>200mg% <0.6 mmol/L One unit Rapid insulin for each 50mg%above 100 Mg%
>200 mg% 0.6-1.5 mmol/L 10% of TDD of rapid insulin
>200mg% >1.5 mmol/L 20% of TDD as rapid insulin
TDD means total daily dose. To convert sugar in mg% to mmol/L divide by 18
If the blood sugar is 345 mg%, the extra insulin has to be calculated as follows:
345- 100 = 245 mg%
Give one unit for each 50mg% above 100mg%
This means you have to give 5 units of rapid acting insulin ( 245/ 50)
Check sugar and blood ketones every hour till normal. You can use the Freestyle Optium Xceed meter for this. You can place blood as for checking the sugar on the strips for ketones and sugar.
For example, if the blood glucose is 22 mmol/L, the excess is 16.5 mmol( 22-5.5) You have to give one unit rapid for each 2.7 mmol excess. This means, 16.5 / 2.7 which is equal to 6 units.
Blood sugar In mmol/L Excess sugar above 5.5 mmol/ 2.7 Extra Rapid Insulin to be given
15 9.5/2.7 3.5 units (3 u)
16 10.5/2.7 3.8 units ( 3 u)
17 11.5/2.7 4.25 ( 4 u)
18 12.5/2.7 4.6 ( 4 u)
19 13.5/2.7 5 ( 5 u)
20 14.5/2.7 5.3 ( 5 u)
21 15.5/2.7 5.7 ( 5 u)
25 19.5/ 2.7 7. 2 ( 7 u)
Remember that the first 5.5 mmol of sugar is not counted for correction. The value above that is used for calculation. So please do not give a rough 10 units for any emergency at home. The aim is to correct the excess sugar. Do not feed the child after this dose of insulin. At this dose of insulin, the child will not go into low sugar. Make the child drink water hourly. Check the sugar every 15 minutes. If vomiting or abdominal pain or losing consciousness, get the child to hospital immediately.
The TDD means the total daily dose of rapid taken in a day. If it is 6+12+8, the total is 26 units. 10% of this is 2.6 units
20% of the total daily dose is 6+12+8= 26 and 20% of this is 5.2 units.
This needs some quick calculation. The best will be to give something like 4 units insulin, then calculate the exact amount.
If hypoglycemia ( when sugar levels fall down) develops, drink orange juice or take sugar or dates. In somecountries glucose tablets are available. Wait for half an hour. Recheck and if needed take more orange juice. You can have a handful of raisins( dry grapes) also if needed.
Glucagon kits will be available in the pharmacy. This is used for treatment of low sugar levels before reaching the hospital.
If less than 8 years of age or weighing less than 25 kg give 500 mcg of glucagon Intramuscularly. If weighing more than 25 kg or more than 8 years of age, give 1 mg of glucagon intra muscularly. Check sugar levels again in 10 minutes. Take to the hospital if not better.
Having type 1 diabetes does not prevent you from enjoying life to the fullest.
Never go for adventure sports alone.
If going for high altitude trekking, remember high altitude trips mimic mountain sickness ( headache, intestinal discomfort and fatigue)
Increased blood sugar and insulin resistance can occur at high altitudes. Sugar levels can fall with the increased activity.
Glucometers may not be accurate at cold temperature; the insulin may freeze as well.
Deep sea diving:
In those who dive deep, no unconsciousness has been reported. However, it is better to check the sugar levels an hour, half an hour and just before diving.
The transition from a child to an adult
• Kids just want to be kids. Child is a child first. Diabetes comes second.
• They strive for a little more independence each year. They do not want to stand out from the crowd. How the child accepts diabetes will depend on how, you as a parent, look at it. If you feel diabetes is a tragedy, the child will feel that way as well. However if you look at it as a fact of life that requires attention and discipline, the child will be prepared for a healthier future.
• Checking sugar frequently is painful but the child will gradually understand the importance.
• Remind them to be snacking in between playing hours.
• Remind independence comes with responsibility as they grow from a child to a teen.
• If your child reports a high blood sugar, do not scold them. They may be trying their best. Shower them with praise when they do well. Remember that nobody is perfect.
• Ups and downs of sugar levels are part of growing up and changes in body hormones as they grow into their teens.
• It is worthwhile checking how each food affects the sugar before and after eating and before and after exercise.
Fasting from dawn to dusk in the holy month of Ramadan for healthy adult Muslims has been ordained and physically sick Muslims are exempt from it. However many Muslims with mild to moderate Diabetes, Hypertension and other medical conditions do want to fast.
The purpose of this presentation is make some recommendations how one can fast safely in light of research on fasting. Many are concerned they cannot fast when they have diabetes mellitus . Please consult with your doctor.
Some people may need some tests to be done to assess fitness for fasting. The salient features of fasting are :
It is a voluntary undertaking rather than being ordered by a physician
There is no selective food intake i.e. protein only, juice only, fruit only , water only etc
There is no total calorie malnutrition i.e. it not a semi starvation diet.
An exercise in self discipline i.e. from constant nibbling , drinking, smoking etc
Psychological effect on the body and additional prayer give additional peace. People who should ideally not fast, but can fast under supervision
Diabetes Mellitus Type 1
Those who get recurrent low sugar levels.
Chronic Renal Failure including Renal Transplant
Severe heart and lung conditions
Physically sick ( Quran 2: 184-185)
Traveler on a journey
Women during menstruation
Pregnant and lactating women
pre pubertal children
Do you know?
Blood glucose and Insulin levels will fall during the fast.
The first few days will take some adjustment. If in doubt( headache, sweating, dizziness) check sugar or blood pressure. What to do during the fasting:
Beware the sweets and the fried food.
Remember that by eating throughout the night will not help one tide over the next day. Instead indigestion and gas related problems may set in.
Fluid intake must be adequate during the night to make up for the reduced intake during the day
Having too much of sweets or fried food during the Sahoor can lead to dryness of the mouth which can be a cause of concern during the fast. Points to remember while breaking the fast at Ifthaar:
Drink enough water, butter milk or juice. A glass of water melon juice, butter milk or tender coconut water will be a good option to break the fast. One need not add glucose. Water melon juice is sweet by itself and usually people add more sugar. Water melon has a higher glycemic index.
Try to be careful with the fried and sweet food. Take them in moderation.
Have a good Ifthaar or Isha meal. Have your prayers and then go for a walk to allow digestion.
Have some fruit at about midnight if need be. Have a good Sahoor of needed.
Avoid too salty food at Sahoor as that can make the mouth dry forcing more fluid intake.
Check the sugar level 2 hours after Ifthaar to decide whether any additional dose of medicines is needed.
Exercise and Ramadhaan
One can exercise during the month. Please check the sugar before exercise. One can exercise lightly before Isha or after the heavy meal.
Try to avoid strenuous workouts as the body may be tired due to the lengthy fast.
Those who want to exercise before Iftaar should check their sugar before exercise. If sugar is below 100mg(5.5 mmol/L) avoid exercising.
Those with type 1 diabetes are exempt from fasting as their sugar levels are dependant on insulin. However, there are some who do fasting alternate days only. This is depending on your health status.
Some more tips
Check sugar levels just before Ifthaar and before the Sahoor meal.
One can check the sugar levels at 7 am before going to work. If the sugar levels are either too low or too high, it is wise to seek medical advice immediately. You may be advised to forego the fast that day.
Time your medicines between Iftaar and 1am.
If on long acting insulin such as Glargine or detemir, it is advised to take 20% less either at Ifthaar or Sahoor time
Normally the doses of most of the medicines could be reduced during the month.
The medicines have to be tailored in such a way that there is no hypoglycemia
Be careful of sulphonyl ureas and rapid acting insulin
Among the sulphonyl ureas, gliclazide is safe in that the chances of hypoglycemia is lesser and the weight gain is minimal.
Intermediate acting insulin are avoided during the month due to the 10-12 hour action which can go into the period of fasting
The essence of Ramadhaan is the same all over the world, but the flavors may differ.
Smoking has been the passion of many though the prevalence has come down from a lofty 40% in 1965 to 20.9% in 2006. 90 % of the smokers were below 20 years of age. 18.1% of the adult females and 23.9% of the adult males smoked in a survey conducted across some continents in 2008. It sure must be higher now.
Peer pressure, stress at work, status symbol, a recreation, a pastime, copying their role models all are causes of initiating smoking.
All are aware that smoking is associated with reduced life span, higher risk of different types of cancers, digestive problems, staining of the teeth, leg problems and also problems during pregnancy.
Those who remain in the company of smokers are equally at risk for developing complications– called environmental tobacco smoke. Children whose parent/s smoke had a higher chance of being an asthmatic , having recurrent respiratory infections or even ear infections.
Diabetes and smoking
Among those with diabetes who smoked , the risks were greater than those who did not smoke and had diabetes.
Metabolic control was poor among the diabetic patients who smoked. The following were noted among the diabetic patients who smoked:
• Increased fluctuations in sugar levels and HbA1c, the 3 month average of sugar
• Increased blood pressure and retinal blood flow
• Increased bad cholesterol- LDL and triglyceride
• Associated increase in adrenaline, growth hormone or cortisol which could increase glucose levels.
• There could be associated alcohol intake with an increased high fat diet consumption.
• Less likelihood of exercising.
• There may be a progression of complications such as retinopathy, neuropathy and nephropathy. Cessation of smoking is an important step in the management of diabetes management. This is associated with less chances of developing a heart related disorder, stroke, cancer or leg vascular disease and improving life expectancy. Those who benefit most are those who quit at a younger age, those who have lesser tobacco pack years. Smoking cessation has health benefits for all ages even after the age of 65 years or even after smoking related complications develop. Mortality rates of those smokers who have abstained for more than 15 years closely approach that of those non smokers. Withdrawal symptoms -craving, depression, anger, frustration, irritability and sleep disorders.
The treatment of withdrawal includes psychological treatment, positive reinforcement and medicines which help to replace nicotine such as nicotine patches kept on the skin ,nicotine containing chewing gums, lozenges, nasal sprays or even inhalers.
Menthol cigarettes or low tar cigarettes do not reduce the risk for hazards to smoking.
Electronic cigarettes have not yet been approved for withdrawal, though many claim to find them beneficial. Benefits of cessation of smoking
Half of the excess cardiovascular risk is eliminated in first year of quitting. There is 30- 50% excess risk for lung cancer even after quitting for almost 10 years.
The highest risk for the development of type 2 diabetes occurred in the first 3 years after quitting but this risk gradually declined to 0 at 12 years.
In lighter vein…….
46% admitted to not eating sweets when smoking and 38% admitted smoking calmed them down…..
But, those who stopped smoking were found to gain 3.8 to 4 kg per year in men and among women a 2.8-3 kg increase per year. But, this increase can be prevented by good lifestyle management.
I even had patients tell me they felt smoking was able to control their diabetes better due to the absence of weight gain as well as by not eating sweets. But, the hazards of smoking outweigh these small “benefits”.
Normally during the cold winter months, the levels of HbA1C, the 3 month average of sugar, can be higher due to higher food quantity consumed to combat the cold, the frequent outdoor barbeques and probably excess liquor consumption with the co incident Christmas and New Year festivities. People spend more time indoors in places where the weather is extreme. Lack of adequate physical activity and excess sleeping hours cuddled up under the warm blankets add more insult. It is quite natural to gain 5-6 kilos during the winter.
Blood Sugar Testing
The finger tips may be cold and so warm them by rubbing them together or wrapping them around a hot mug before pricking the finger for testing. In places where it snows, the glucometer kit has to be kept warm in covered bags so that errors do not come in the readings
It is difficult to work up a sweat while exercising during this time and one may feel cold after the exercise due to the evaporation. Remember to dress adequately while going for outdoor exercises. Hydration with adequate amounts of fluids is still important even in the colder months. Dehydration can increase the sugar levels.
Exercise such as skipping rope, doing the Hula Hoop, aerobics, dancing, yoga, swimming in thermal controlled swimming pools or working out in an indoor gymnasium do wonders. The benefits of exercise are the same whether done during winter or summer!!
Some blame the cold for exercising outdoors, but then they also blame the summer heat and humidity when that sets in.
Care of Skin
It is important to take good care of the skin as it can dry quite fast. Adequate and generous application of moisturising creams, and sunscreen if going to winter sports such as skiing or snow surfing or those just trekking in the snow laden mountains are very important. Adequate hydration keeps the skin shining and hydrated.
Those with neuropathy ( where the nerves of the feet are not working properly) may have difficulty in gauging the heat of water used for bathing.
Take care of the feet. Do not use hot water bags to keep yourself warm. Use multiple layers of clothing or socks at night to the feet. In some countries warm fireplaces keep the rooms warm, but beware the carbon monoxide accumulation.
Food & Beverages
Alcohol may cause a sense of warmth caused by dilatation of blood vessels, but the same may be lost after some time. Manage the consumption of alcohol wisely. Try to take hot beverages and easily digestible food such as soups, oats, porridge, steamed food and some fruits. Black tea with crushed ginger and black pepper is a good drink to even soothe the throat. Remember that excess red meat consumption can lead to high cholesterol levels in some races. The temperature can get quite low at night and it is natural people may eat more to raise their body temperature. Remember you do not need that much food at dinner whether it is summer or winter. It is healthier to sleep on a lighter stomach.
Frequent respiratory infections , mostly viral, are quite common. It is wise to have a Flu vaccine taken once a year rather than have to take multiple courses of antibiotics and medications to combat the infection. The elder adults should have a shot of pneumococcal vaccine once in their life.
It is also quite common to get infections due to food poisoning from eating out .
Use tissues, frequent washing of hands using soap and water or sanitizers especially before shaking hands with others help to prevent transmission.
Gargling of the throat with warm saline helps. So also does steam inhalation.
Fizzy cool sugary drinks do not help whether it is summer or winter.
Enjoy the winter because you will wish it was like this when summer blasts in.
Glycemic index ( GI )of a food is the increase in blood glucose ( above fasting glucose) 2 hours after ingestion of a constant amount of food divided by a reference food( usually glucose).
To make this easy to understand, if the GI of a particular food is 72, this means that 72% of the ingested food is converted to glucose within the body after 2 hours of consumption.
GI reflects the rate at which carbohydrate is absorbed and digested by the body. Try to aim for low GI food combined with medium or high GI food rather than have more of high GI food. Whatever be the diet chosen, the dietary management has to be combined with physical activity for maximum benefit. A diet which suits one person may not suit all. It is advisable to see which food increases the sugar levels by checking the sugar levels after each food ( this is painful, but this can help to decide which food suits a person). Low GI food stuff with the GI levels
Yoghurt low fat 14 Milk chocolate 24 Multi grain bread 48 Broccoli 15 Spaghetti 27 Parboiled rice 48 Celery 15 Skimmed milk 32 Carrot juice 45 Bell peppers 15 Fat free milk 32 Jams and marmalade 49 Spinach 15 Apple 38 Low fat ice cream 50 Tomato 15 Plum 38 Orange juice 52 Soya beans boiled 16 Pears 38 Kiwi 53 Artichoke 15 Apricots dried 31 Banana 54 Asparagus 15
Did you know that every ten seconds a person dies from diabetes related complications?
Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of global death by any disease.
Remember that heart problem is the number one cause of death among those with diabetes. It is said that a person does not die of diabetes, but instead of the heart ailment. The presentation can be just as a spasm of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscles or a frank attack where the blood vessel supplying the heart muscle is blocked completely or the heart may be enlarged.
The pain normally associated with heart attack is absent for those with diabetes. Hence, any “simple” chest discomfort may warrant a heart check up rather than treat it as simple gastritis or “gas”. Sometimes the discomfort may travel down the left arm, neck, back or to the shoulder. If the discomfort is associated sweating and faintness, consult with your doctor immediately. There are many tests that the cardiologist( doctor who specializes in heart diseases) will order for.
Control of the blood pressure and lipids are more important to prevent a heart attack. Sugar control is not all that important to prevent an attack, though. There are medicines which may have to be started by the health care professional to prevent such a calamity.
An ECG ( electrocardiogram) is done with patient in resting state and can tell if an ongoing chest pain is related to the heart or not or if a previous episode of chest discomfort was from the heart. It also tells about the rate.
An ECHO cardiogram is also done either in resting or under some form of exercise. This shows the size of the chambers of the heart, the dimensions of the valves, the blood flow and other parameters.
A Treadmill test will show how the heart copes with exercise. Patients with problems in their back bones or knees cannot do this test unless under supervision. Changes in the heart rate, rhythm , blood pressure may be noted which can point towards a block in the coronary vessels.
A coronary angiogram is a test done to map the coronary vessels. This is done by either introducing a tube through a vessel in the thigh or through a normal cannula in the arm. A dye is injected and films are shot. Blocks can be seen which are interpreted by either the radiologist or cardiologist. The blocks can be stented or ballooned or operated depending on the site and number of blocks.
The doctor will check the kidney function periodically to check if there is the beginning of kidney disease. Reduction of urine output and swelling of the face, body and feet with losing consciousness is a late feature. The presence of microalbumin in urine is an early feature which needs treatment. However, having menstrual periods, a mild urinary infection, having exercised just prior to giving the sample or having fever, the levels of microalbumin can be high. The health care provider will determine if another test is to be repeated. With proper control of sugar, blood pressure the levels improve. Some need medications to help reduce the levels.
Sometimes , dialysis or transplantation is needed when the kidneys reach a terminal stage. Consult with your doctor regarding the diet to be followed if there is such an event. You may have to consult a nephrologist( specialist in kidney diseases).
This is probably the most important of all the organs as far as we all are concerned. What is the use in living, if your eyes are not working or you are blind? Diabetes is the commonest cause of preventable blindness. One would never enjoy the beauty around us and the marvels of the Almighty if it were not for the eyes. Strangely even with good eyesight, we sometimes do “not see” the marvels of God.
Most of the people decide to meet the eye doctor when their eye sight is quite bad…. Till then most meet with the optician who checks the power of the glasses and they are happy.
Good control of sugar can prevent the onset of eye disorders. High blood pressure can also damage the eyes. Being a smoker too can affect the eye sight. It is generally believed that eye sight will become poor with advancing age due to onset of cataract (clouding up of the lens) , Being a diabetic can even make a young patient susceptible to development of cataracts.
The ophthalmologist( the doctor who specializes in eye diseases) will check the pressure in the eyes, look for cataract and also for the retina after instilling drops in the eyes. The eyes will be out of focus for close to an hour or two after the test. Remember checking the power of the eyes is not the test for diabetes check up. Close to 70% of the retina will be damaged before problems arise in vision. It is important to prevent these complications from arising by having an annual checkup with your eye doctor.
Changes in sugar levels can affect the clear fluid in which the lens is bathed in the eye. Thus there is a blurred vision which many people compare to a curtain kept in front of their eyes. The clear fluid becomes turbid when high sugar levels occur and then clears up when the sugar level normalizes. It is, therefore, important to mention to the eye specialist you are diabetic and whether under good control or not. It is wise to have new reading glasses when the sugar levels are normal.
When to meet the eye doctor?
• Blurred vision
• Trouble reading
• Seeing double
• Injury to eye
• Spots or floaters in the eyes
• Eyes get red and itchy
• You cannot see things on the outside of your eye vision field.
Know your eyes
The eyes are your mirror to the outside world. The eyes are covered by eye lids protecting it from external trauma or injury. This also prevents the eyes from drying out. Light enters through the cornea and travels through the center of the iris, which is the colored part of the eye. Light then falls on the retina situated at the back of the eye which then converts these signals to signals which can be read by the brain and is transmitted through nerves to the brain for us to understand what we are seeing. All this happens in fractions of seconds …
Know some terms
Glaucoma: This is term used when the pressure in the eyes increase. This can happen in those with a longer duration of diabetes. The vision of the eye is gradually lost. The eye doctor will perform tests which will determine how severe it is and will prescribe either eye drops or surgery.
Cataract: This is term used when the lens becomes cloudy. Normally elderly people get cataracts even without being a diabetic. Cataract may occur in younger adults if they are diabetic. The eye doctor will advise what to do after checking for cataract. For some people the retinopathy will become worse if treated for cataract and for some glaucoma may develop.
Retinopathy- this is term used to mean damage to the retina, the nerve layer of the eye. About 70 percent of the retina has to be damaged for one to show changes in eye sight. By this time, it will be so severe, complex treatment plans will have to be made with outcomes resulting in compromised vision. The small blood vessels in the back of the eye balloon out and may form pouches. They may start leaking. This may cause swelling of the nearby parts of the eye and even cause a lifting up of this layer, called retinal detachment. The eye doctor will advise how to get treated depending on the stage the eyes are. The feet
Often, this is the most neglected of all the body parts. It has been studied that women care more for their feet than men. It has also been shown in studies that the foot problems are less among the muslim population due to the washing of their feet for prayer 5 times a day. One should pamper the feet at night daily.
The feet may swell up ( due to high blood pressure, kidney disease, the effects of the medicines you are given, or heart disease). You may notice the skin becomes dry (which can cause itchiness), the nails can get deformed, you may notice white rashes between the toes, decreased sensation to hot and cold and small wounds go unnoticed unless pointed out by somebody.
You have to inspect your feet daily with a mirror, apply moisturizing cream to the top and bottom of the feet ( avoid the areas between the toes), trim the toe nails straight ( taking care not to cut the corners), use one size extra shows or footwear, avoid narrow footwear, use loose cotton stockings, check the inside of the shoes daily and wash your feet daily, but dry them properly. Never cut calluses( thickened skin) yourself as it will risk injury.
The doctor will usually check the pulsations of the feet blood vessels, check for temperature sensation, check for fine sensation with a thread and the reflex at the ankle. You may need to have custom made footwear in some cases.
Remember to show the doctor for any wounds or cracks or ulcers that may develop. Remember that any infection can spread rapidly in diabetic patients which may sometimes need an operation resulting in loss of limb. Coupled with smoking, diabetes is dangerous combination.
Sometimes the legs may ache while walking or may have cramps at night. This can be the starting feature of a nerve problem. Consult your doctor if this happens.
Get educated. One key to preventing diabetic skin problems is to understand what causes them. Talk to your doctor. Learn about diabetic skin complications, what your particular risks are, and how you can lower them.
Control your diabetes. Controlling the blood glucose within normal range can go far toward preventing common diabetic skin complications.
To get a handle on your diabetes, strive for a healthy weight, eat right, cut back on salt, maintain a healthy blood pressure, and exercise. That’s a tall order, but talk to your health care team for support.
Be aware. If you suffer from diabetic nerve damage (neuropathy), you can have an infected cut, scratch, or skin puncture and not know it. Don’t let a small problem turn into a big one .Check your feet, ankles, in between your toes and legs regularly for wounds that aren’t healing.
Do something about wounds and sores. Don’t neglect wound care. If you find a nick, a scratch, a small cut, anything that isn’t healing or that worries you, talk to your doctor immediately.
Cover up. This simple first line of defense can help you avoid the cuts and scratches that can lead to infection. Whether you’re gardening or walking the dog, cover your legs with long pants and your feet with flat, good-fitting shoes.
Practice good skin care. Keeping skin clean and dry, but not too dry, is key to good diabetic skin care.
Keep skin comfortably dry, especially at armpits, toes, and groin. Talcum powder can help.
But avoid drying skin out. Skin that’s too dry can crack, itch, and get infected, so prevent that by taking short, lukewarm showers or baths and using mild soaps and shampoos when you wash. Avoid deodorant or scented cleansers, which can be harsh on sensitive skin.
Moisturize if your skin is dry . The best time to moisturize is right after a shower or bath, when skin is still moist.
Dry well by patting gently — don’t rub — focusing on underarms, between legs, under breasts, and between toes.
Diabetes and teeth
This is probably the most neglected of the various aspects of ones body. Many are unaware that care of the mouth is as important as looking after the eyes, feet or heart when one has diabetes.
Some presentations will be :
• Slow healing time after dental procedures
• Fungal infections coming very frequently( white patches)
• Dry mouth
• Cavities in the teeth
What can be done to minimize the risk
• Brush your teeth after every meal and floss the space between the teeth at least once daily.
• Use oral antibacterial rinses to wash away the germs
• Meet the dentist at least yearly once.
The gums ( pink tissue on which the teeth are embedded) can become soft, spongy and start bleeding. Later on the gums may detach themselves from the teeth causing them to have pockets. These pockets can harbor organisms which can erode into the underlying bone and can cause the tooth to be loose. The infection may spread at an alarming rate that you may have to be hospitalized and the infection can even spread to as far as the brain through the rich network of blood vessels on the face.
High Blood Pressure ( Hypertension)
Blood pressure has 2 values- a systolic ( the reading at top) and a diastolic ( reading at the bottom). This is checked at every visit to the doctor by a machine called sphygmomanometer. The most accurate one is the one using mercury( which are rare these days). Often, digital and air driven machines are used and freely available for use at home or office. Normally the blood pressure can be high when consulting with the doctor( due to anxiety). If found high, recheck either at home first thing in the morning and before going to bed for a week. Show the readings to the doctor for making a decision. Alternatively, a machine can be left attached to the body which will record the pressure for a week during the days for varying periods up to a week. The average of those readings will determine of you are having high blood pressure or not. This can help detect blood pressure fluctuations while asleep. Most of the serious side effects of high blood pressure ( heart attacks and strokes) are in the early hours of the morning after midnight.
If found to have high blood pressure, the doctor will advise you to cut down on salt intake. (Pickles, sauces, tinned vegetables, ketchup, salted butter, sausages and hams all contain salt in excess) Besides this, you will be asked to reduce the consumption of red meat, fried food, smoking and alcohol. You will also be advised to increase intake of fruits and vegetables. The doctor will advise you to
Try out relaxation methods. This may vary from person to person- such as dancing, listening to music, playing golf, walking, reading, gardening, painting, yoga classes, swimming and so forth. ALCOHOL and SMOKING DO NOT FORM HEALTHY RELAXATION TECHNIQUES!.
The normal blood pressure is < 130/80 mm Hg. Even reducing the pressure by 20/10 mm Hg has significant benefits on the various organs such as heart, eyes, kidneys and brain. Very often, more than one medicine may be needed to control the blood pressure. Sometimes the doctor has to prescribe blood pressure medicines to control the leak of protein in the urine though the blood pressure reading will be normal. Most of these medicines help to protect the kidneys and heart as well. The blood pressure will never reach zero as the body will take measures to correct itself. Only 18% of the diabetic patients reach the target goal of blood pressure.
Bariatric surgery is known to be the most effective and long lasting treatment for morbid obesity and many related conditions, but now mounting evidence suggests it may be among the most effective treatments for metabolic diseases and conditions including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and obstructive sleep apnea.
People are often reluctant to undergo surgery for fear of pain and the possible scars on their body. Some buy time by dieting and doing other herbal cures. These may last for a short time and the weight loss may rebound in a short period. The weight loss will not be permanent in these methods.
Please be informed that this is not useful among those with type 1 diabetes in curing diabetes.
Bariatric surgeries help in almost full cessation of medicines for diabetes type 2, blood pressure and cholesterol after the surgery. Of course, one may have to take a multivitamin tablet or an iron tablet after the surgery.
This will be done only of the BMI is >40 or >30 with other medical problems.
Please be reminded that not all people who are overweight or obese will benefit from the surgery and so also some not so obese people will benefit from this surgery to help adjust their metabolic dysfunction thereby improving their quality of life.
Work up prior to surgery
Normally all fat people will carry some risk for surgery as they will have many associated problems. A thorough medical check up is normally done which will include blood tests, chest X ray, spirometry to check the lung function, a detailed heart check up , a check up by the anesthetist ( doctor who puts you to sleep during the surgery) and the dietitian. Normally the patient , after medical check up, will be admitted the night before the surgery and be discharged the day after the surgery after performing an X ray to check for leaks ( you will made to drink a medicine and then X ray will be taken). Normally the person can go for work in office after 5 days. This is a procedure done by laparoscope and so pain is very much reduced.
Types of surgeries:
There are two main types of bariatric surgeries – Restrictive and malabsorbptive. “Restrictive” means reducing the size of the stomach that prevents the patient from eating more than a small amount of food. “Malabsorbptive” means that the patient eats normally but the carbohydrate and fat are not absorbed from the gut leading to loss of weight. The common three operations done for obesity all over the world are Gastric Banding, Sleeve Gastrectomy , Mini bypass and Gastric Bypass.
Gastric Banding –
In this, a PVC band is applied to the uppermost part of the stomach to restrict the size of the stomach. Thus there is an artificially small gastric pouch. When the patient takes more than a little food, he feels full rapidly and if he eats more he feels like vomiting. This will need frequent filling up of the band to narrow the opening. It can be relaxed as well when needed. This is not much of use in the adult population these days. Sleeve Gastrectomy –
This operation utilizes a series of staplers to run across the stomach to restrict the size of the stomach, to convert it into a tubular structure. The great advantage of this operation is that it does not require frequent adjustments like the gastric band does. Also it is quite easy to perform in experienced hands, and the time taken for surgery is also not much. The average weight loss after sleeve gastrectomy is about 25-30 kg. Depending on the excess weight an individual has, it can be more. In other words, several patients have lost about 50-80 kg after this operation!
Gastric Bypass –
It is a more complex operation which bypasses the second half of the stomach by connecting the first half of stomach directly to the intestine. Although this is a technically challenging operation compared to the sleeve gastrectomy, it is more useful in obese patients who are also diabetic, hypertensive, and have cholesterol and triglyceride problems. However the major issue with gastric bypass is the need to take calcium, iron and vitamin B12 supplements as the nutrients are not absorbed sufficiently following this operation.
A Mini Bypass
This is also in practice now.
The common fear is whether these operations carry any major side effects. As far as the sleeve gastrectomy is concerned, the major side effects are in the immediate post operative period, when the surgeon worries about a possible leak. This happens only in a tiny proportion of patients, that too those who are very fat, in the region of around 200 kg. Even in such patients, in the last year or two special devices have been introduced to support the stapler line and prevent leak. Thus with each passing year, these operations are becoming safer.
The era of bariatric surgery questioned is over, it is now accepted with nearly over forty lakh patients having undergone this surgery from all over the world. With this background, it is best to use it judiciously to make patients lose weight, take control over their diabetes, hypertension, and live healthy long lives. (One study showed that on an average patients live 15 years more after performing bariatric surgery) The sun has not set on Bariatric surgery. It has just risen.
These metabolic surgeries are being done to help control the weight and even get rid of diabetes, hypertension and increased lipids. But, it needs the person to be motivated for the rest of life to keep the beneficial effects of the procedure. These can cost quite a lot, but can be tried to contain those who are extremely obese and or dependent on just too many medicines for their metabolic control. The surgery will help reduce the intake of medicines for blood pressure, diabetes and high blood lipids, which will make the patient feel much better than having to take so many medicines.
The success of the surgery will depend largely up on the determination of the patient and the ongoing effort by the patient to adhere to the instructions given by the medical and surgical team. One will have to adhere to a diet pattern during the post operative phase. The patients will have to be on a lifelong supplement of vitamins and some on iron as well. Liposuction removes the subcutaneous fat and not the visceral fat. So, it may help in better look, but the dangerous visceral fat will remain as it is.
What is metabolic syndrome?
This is a condition in which excess body fat is collected and deposited on the body which has an adverse effect on life. Those with metabolic syndrome have the following as well:
High Body mass index
High blood pressure
High blood lipids
High waist circumference( >90 cm in males and >80 cms in females)
Those with metabolic syndrome are prone to develop the following:
Type 2 diabetes
Coronary heart disease
High blood pressure
Cancers of the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus), colon and breast.
Sleep disorders( sleep apnoea)
Liver and gall bladder disease
The management will need the support of many specialties including even a psychologist opinion.
This is a state of disillusion, frustration and a meek submission to diabetes which results in complete disregard to blood sugar level management. This is regarded as “freedom” from this confusing , frustrating and ever demanding condition. This is often seen many years after commencement of treatment.
This burnout is usually accompanied by varying levels of stress, anxiety, depression and labile emotions.
Scared of living with diabetes
uncomfortable social situations- cannot swim, cannot party, cannot be out for late night meetings, cannot do this or that…
overwhelmed and angry with diabetes
Feeling diabetes is taking too much of mental and physical energy
concerns about the future- “Can I marry?”, “Will I be able to conceive or have a normal sexual life”, “How long can I live?”
The commonest modes of presenting can be:
Self destructive behavior
Eating or drinking whatever one wants knowing fully well it is not good for those with diabetes.
Improper insulin shots or lying about medicine intake
Improper maintenance of log books
Fabricating glucometer readings
Complications of diabetes can set in which in turn makes things worse to a point of suicidal behavior.
How to overcome a burnout?
Stay focused and motivated. Do not attempt to be perfect- forgive those occasional high sugar levels if other readings are fine.
Identify barriers to care of diabetes and resolve them.
Edit negative thoughts
Enroll into support groups
Speak with a friend or health care professional
Rethink exercise schedule
take a break
Laugh it off
A check list:
Ask yourself whether you have done the following:
• Enough medicines are there with you.
• Have you had the blood tests for cholesterol, liver, kidney, hemoglobin , urine for protein, sugar and 3 month average of sugar at least once in the past 6 months.
• Have you had a foot check , an eye check by eye doctor and a heart check such as having an ECHO cardiogram and Treadmill test in the past one year. There are instances when the treadmill could not be done due either being overweight or having knee or back problems.
• If an elderly male, have you had a PSA test done in the past one year ( this is a blood test for the prostate) Alternatively, you could meet with a Urologist, the specialist for these problems.
• If an elderly male or female, have you had the calcium, vitamin D levels checked in the past year and a bone mineral density which is a scan for the bones showing if they are prone for fractures. Vitamin D levels, if very low, will need a correction with medicines and a recheck done depending on the doctors advice.
• Women after the age of menopause or those with a strong family history of cancer of the breast should have a mammogram ( special X ray of the breast) done once yearly.
• Thyroid levels can be checked yearly once , unless on treatment.
• Distended abdomen, “gaseous feeling” and belching with a mild upper chest discomfort can sometimes be a marker for something sinister. Have a gastroscopy done to make sure there are no ulcers.
• All bleeding from below is not from ‘piles”. It may also be worthwhile to have a colonoscopy done.
• Have you been monitoring your progress and if you can see no improvement in either the sugar levels or weight, you must seriously reconsider your options. Please do not always find fault with the doctor or the medicines, the reason could be elsewhere.
• Have you got the glucometer serviced or checked out especially if more than an year old
• Have you shown the Insulin delivery devise to the doctor once a year if the refilled pens are being used. Faulty devices can lead to errors in dosing.
• All said and done, there is no point in doing an annual whole body scan to make sure all is well. There are so many things which may go unnoticed and also will be risk of too much of radiation.
• Please check the footwear daily for wearing out or foreign bodies. They can prevent serious mishaps later.
• Have you had an annual Flu vaccine? This will reduce the flu which occurs while traveling a lot
• For those above 65 years of age a pneumococcal vaccine is useful. This is to be taken just once in a lifetime.