Living with diabetes blog

Diabetes: Why sticking to your goals matters

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N. June 4, 2013

In February 2012, I wrote a blog about dealing with the diabetes "police" — people who closely monitor what you're eating and comment on it. One of you responded that your bigger concern was the "unpolice," or those with type 2 diabetes who try to get you to eat poorly like they do and deny that any damage occurs because they haven't experienced the same health consequences.

Diabetes is a chronic disease — you may start out maintaining good blood glucose control with diet and exercise, but as diabetes progresses, you may need an oral diabetes medication, and, later, another medication or insulin. It's not your fault or anything for which you should be ashamed. Type 2 diabetes doesn't progress at the same rate for everyone.

But high blood sugar is sneaky. Your friends who tell you to go ahead and eat "like they do" without considering the consequences of uncontrolled blood sugar may not realize that the extra glucose (sugar) in their blood may be damaging the blood vessels that nourish the heart, eyes, kidneys and nerves.

And, as reported in the January 2002 issue of Diabetes Forecast, people who have a family history of type 2 diabetes get diabetes earlier and are more likely to suffer from obesity, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, and heart disease than people with no family history of type 2 diabetes. This risk increases further if there's a family history of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Research has shown that tight blood sugar control, or intensive insulin therapy — which requires close monitoring of blood sugar levels and frequent doses of insulin — can prevent or slow the progression of long-term diabetes complications. In fact, in one study, tight control of blood sugar levels reduced the risk of diabetes-related heart attacks and strokes by more than 50 percent.

Intensive insulin therapy also can:

  • Reduce the risk of eye damage by more than 75 percent
  • Reduce the risk of nerve damage by 60 percent
  • Prevent or slow the progression of kidney disease by 50 percent

So, in summary, diabetes is progressive and progresses at a different rate from person to person. Most of you have probably heard of the game, "Russian roulette," a life and death game that involves a gun with one bullet and two or more players. Each player takes a turn holding the gun to his or her head and pulls the trigger until an unfortunate player shoots himself or herself in the head. Why play that game with diabetes?

Have a good week.

Peggy

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Jun. 04, 2013