Today, diabetes is a major health concern in the United States and in the world. Diabetes dramatically catalyzes the development of other health complications such as heart diseases, atherosclerosis, stroke, high blood pressure, among other health concerns. A patient will suffer from diabetes after developing complications with the hormone insulin. In severe cases, with little to no management and treatment, the disease is terminal. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the clinical picture of diabetes: its diagnosis, several interventions towards managing and treating it, and its prognosis.  

What is diabetes?

A patient develops diabetes when the levels of blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, are too high. Normally, a high glucose level in the blood will trigger the beta cells in the pancreas to releases the insulin hormone. Insulin enhances body cells to respond by reducing the glucose levels from the blood and using it as energy, while excess glucose is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. Complications with the hormone insulin will result in unstable blood glucose levels, and sometimes, high blood glucose levels (George et al., 2016). This will consequently lead to the condition of diabetes. There are three types of diabetes: gestational diabetes, Type 1, and Type 2 diabetes.  

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs at the first diagnosis of diabetes in a pregnant woman. Gestational diabetes has implications on the health of the unborn baby and its mothers. Soon-to-be mothers should therefore seek professional checkups for gestational diabetes when undertaking prenatal care. However, expecting women with early diagnosis and care can safely carry through the gestation period.

Type 1 diabetes

This is a chronic type of diabetes that occurs when the pancreas produces insufficient insulin. Insulin is vital to triggering the cells in the body to use glucose in the blood for energy. When body cells cannot process blood glucose to energy, a person develops type 1 diabetes, a condition where there are high glucose levels in the blood due to a lack of insulin. A person with type 1 diabetes can consequently develop nervous disorders and blood circulatory complications.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that occurs when there is unstable blood glucose regulation in the body. Type 2 diabetes occurs when there are two conditions in the body. First, when the cells producing insulin in the pancreas are damaged, causing inadequate insulin production. Secondly, one may develop type 2 diabetes when cells do not respond to insulin to regulate glucose movement. Consequently, these conditions will lead to high blood sugar levels, which may trigger secondary health complications.

Diagnosis of diabetes

A person who has diabetes may exhibit various symptoms, which largely depend on the level of glucose in their blood. These symptoms include frequent exhaustion or fatigue, weight loss, urinating more than usual that sometimes may have ketones, and feeling of thirst (“Good to know: Diabetes symptoms and tests,” 2020). Other symptoms include but are not limited to one experiencing extreme frequent hunger, vision impairment, sores that take time to heal. Diagnosing diabetes through symptoms, however, can be hard. Therefore, it is imperative to have professional screening test.

Diagnosis of type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test, also glycosylated hemoglobin test, diagnoses average levels of a person’s blood sugar within three months period of the test. The test accesses hemoglobin percentages that are glycated with glucose. Persons with high (A1C) results are more at risk of secondary complications from diabetes. Fasting plasma glucose test accesses the sugar levels in a person’s blood at a specific time after fasting, usually eight hours. Lastly, unlike fasting plasma glucose, random plasma glucose is carried out at any given time to determine the levels of blood glucose when symptoms are visible.

Gestational diabetes diagnosis

Pregnant women can use an oral glucose tolerance test to examine whether they have gestational diabetes. After eight hours of fasting, the test is undertaken, and a health practitioner draws blood first, then a patient will drink a liquid containing glucose. Afterward, blood samples are taken to compare sugar levels from the initial sample and subsequent samples. High sugar levels within an interval show one is gestational diabetic.

Management and treatment of diabetes

Management of diabetes involves keeping the risk factors under control. To manage diabetes, a patient needs to adopt a healthy lifestyle and abandon habits that may trigger one’s blood glucose levels to rise, such as smoking. This aims to manage the patient’s blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. Adopting healthy habits includes acquiring an appropriate diet and routine exercising. A patient needs to consult with a health care professional for the best care plans to manage their diabetes.

Treatment largely depends on what type of diabetes a patient is suffering from and secondary complications. Treatment of diabetes aims to keep blood sugar at optimal levels. It is recommended for patients with type 1 diabetes to take insulin regularly, usually every day. Patients with type 2 diabetes undergo medication, adopt healthy lifestyles, and take insulin as treatment plans. Patients with gestational diabetes will need to adopt healthy diets and undertake routine physical activities.

Prognosis of diabetes

The prognosis of diabetes includes short and long-term secondary health complications and death when untreated. A person may have diabetes notwithstanding their ages; however, the development of the disease varies from person to person. Patients with type 1 diabetes, with tight control of their blood glucose levels, can dramatically reduce circulatory diseases (“Course and prognosis of diabetes,” 2018). Patients with type 2 diabetes are likely to suffer disabilities such as lower limb amputation and other health complications, including nerve damage and kidney diseases. Gestation diabetes among expecting women is likely to translate to type 2 diabetes over time. These women are at a greater risk of developing gestation diabetes again in future pregnancies, while their newborns are likely to suffer type 2 diabetes and obesity in the course of their lives.

Lastly, a patient may develop diabetes from inherited genes and factors within their environment. Through an effective care plan, a patient can manage and treat diabetes. Early diagnosis of diabetes provides a patient with pragmatic options to treat the disease and avoid both short-term and long-term complications that arise from high blood sugar levels. Therefore, patients suspecting to have symptoms of diabetes should seek an early professional opinion.

References

Course and prognosis of diabetes. (2018, September 5). Health24. https://www.news24.com/health24/medical/diabetes/overview/course-and-prognosis-of-diabetes-20180803

George, A., Augustine, R., & Sebastian, M. (2016). Diabetes mellitus and human health care: A holistic approach to diagnosis and treatment. CRC Press.

Good to know: Diabetes symptoms and tests. (2020). Clinical Diabetes38(1), 108-108. https://doi.org/10.2337/cd20-pe01

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