The most common type of diabetes, often associated with a dysfunctional life-style and particularly observed in the elderly, operates in the shadows with no evident symptoms, but seriously undermines the health of the patient. The good news is that diabetes may regress and can be cured, but requires self-control and teamwork.
A quick overview
Diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by hyperglycemia, or rather, an increase in blood sugar levels that is caused by a dysfunction in the production of insulin or insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas and necessary for glucose metabolism.
The classification of diabetes drawn up by WHO in 1997 divides diabetes into three main types:
- Type 1 diabetes. Includes almost all forms of immune-mediated diabetes, predominantly caused by a dysfunction of the immune system, which recognizes pancreatic beta cells (Islets of Langerhans) as foreign and attacks and destroys them.
- Type 2 diabetes. Includes all forms of diabetes caused by low levels of insulin secreted by pancreatic beta cells (Islets of Langerhans) or insulin resistance.
- Gestational diabetes mellitus. A secondary form of diabetes with onset or first recognition during pregnancy. It is normally a transient condition.
Type 2 diabetes is much more common than type 1. Approximately 90% of people with diabetes suffer from type 2, which affects older people and is often associated to other conditions such as obesity, hypertension and dyslipidemia, which form the criteria for metabolic syndrome. An analysis of chronic complications of diabetes shows that cardiac and cerebrovascular complications represent the prime cause of death for the diabetic population and one of the prime causes of death in the world.
The Decalogue of diabetes
The Italian Society for the Study of Diabetes provides an interesting Decalogue of Diabetes, that helps put this chronic disease into perspective, including the lifestyle changes it entails:
- Awareness: Diabetes must not be considered a minor illness. It is potentially very serious and requires great awareness and application.
- Team work: Diabetes cannot be cured by only one doctor. It needs the team work of health workers, care-givers, physicians, etc., but the patient is always the “team leader”.
- Nutrition: There are no foods that are prohibited, but some foods should be consumed in moderation, especially food and beverages that contain sugar.
- Body weight. There are no drastic life-long diets imposed, but diabetics should follow a sensible diet with some precautions, such as cutting back on pasta, bread, cheese, cold cuts and sweets, consuming fish and beans in alternative to meat and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Physical Activity: Regular physical activity is an essential therapeutic instrument in diabetes. Simple exercise like walking is sufficient, but better at a fast pace.
- Medicine: Adherence to treatment is fundamental. Diabetic patients must regularly take medication, orally or intravenously, and at specific times.
- Self-management of glycaemia: Practically everyone with diabetes must measure their glucose levels at home, even though the frequency of this varies case to case.
- Medical visits: Specific medical visits for diabetes must be carried out 3-4 times a year.
- Exams: Treating diabetes also requires patients to carry out periodical laboratory and instrumental exams.
- Foot evaluation: Diabetes can cause foot problems that can be very serious and cannot be reversed. Patients must pay close attention to the appearance of even small lesions and to immediately contact their physician.
What Domedica can do
Through their Patient Support Programs, Domedica has provided a series of services that help develop teamwork and self-control through awareness, training and practical and emotional support. Domedica proposes a holistic approach, that considers the patient as a whole and supports him or her in every aspect of the disease, especially aspects that do not regard insulin or medicine intake. The patient is encouraged to follow a balanced diet, carry out regular exercise and reminded of medical appointments in what serves not as an agenda, but a trainer in a certain sense, who is continually present, positive and stimulating, making the patient feel understood and eager to improve the way they handle their disease and to enrich their life.
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