Early Diagnosis and Intervention is Key to Living with Diabetes

Early Diagnosis and Intervention is Key to Living with Diabetes

Getting a diabetes diagnosis doesn’t have to be the life-changing event it once was, but you do have to act quickly.

Tamrah Jennings, Palomar Health Clinical Nurse Specialist for Diabetes, says she has talked to an increasing number of young patients who regretted not listening to diabetes counselors earlier about changing their lifestyle before ending up in the hospital.

“Once the damage is done, it’s done; it can’t be reversed,” Jennings said.

Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney failure, amputations and blindness. It’s the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

The good news for those diagnosed with diabetes is that modern technology is moving really fast. Many people no longer have to prick themselves several times a day to check their blood-sugar levels. Others don’t even have to give themselves insulin shots. Wearable devices are now continuously monitoring glucose levels and injecting the proper amount of insulin automatically.

The key to having a good outcome is early diagnosis and intervention. If you have a family history of diabetes or you are experiencing the symptoms (frequent urination, always feel thirsty or hungry, experience numbness in your hands or feet, sudden weight loss, experience fatigue), you should get your blood-sugar levels tested through your doctor. There are several different tests that will diagnose if you are prediabetic or have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

If you are prediabetic, you can make lifestyle changes that may prevent or delay the onsite of type 1 or 2 diabetes. Once you are diagnosed as a diabetic you can never get rid of it, but you may control it. Lifestyle alone may not prevent you from getting diabetes and likewise some with high-risk lifestyles may never get it because genetics plays a powerful role. However, lifestyle does contribute significantly to managing symptoms.

Here are some steps to take to manage symptoms regardless of the diagnoses:
  • Join a support group to learn from others
  • Improve your eating habits
  • Increase your physical activity
  • Reduce your stress
  • Follow your doctor’s prescribed plan including taking medications
  • Regularly check your blood-sugar levels (glucose)

Jennings says one of the most difficult times to control your glucose levels is during the holidays. She says every year she sees an increased number of patients admitted to the hospital with uncontrolled blood sugars and hyperglycemia.

“A lot of it has to do with eating around the holidays, frequent snacking, less exercise, a lot more alcohol intake,” Jennings said.

Photo caption: Modern technology is helping patients regulate glucose in real time.