Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert
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Type 2 diabetes must be constantly monitored lest blood sugar levels rise uncontrollably. Ordinarily, insulin released by the pancreas regulates blood sugar but if you have type 2 diabetes, insulin production is hampered. The result is the risk of consistently high blood sugar levels, which can cause a torrent of health problems.
Diabetic neuropathy – a type of nerve damage associated with diabetes – is responsible for many of the symptoms associated with blood sugar damage.
According to the Winchester Hospital, diabetic neuropathy can result in damage to any nerve in the body.
Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy may include:
- Numbness, tingling, or pain in the extremities
- Weakness in the arms and/or legs
- Nausea or vomiting
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Urination problems
- Erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness
- Weakness of facial muscles resulting in a drooping eyelid, drooping mouth, facial droop, difficulty swallowing
- Muscle cramps
- A prolonged feeling of fullness after eating, and/or abdominal pain
- Decreased ability to sweat normally
- Blurred or double vision.
“If you have diabetic neuropathy, you are at increased risk for developing other types of neuropathies, such as carpal tunnel syndrome,” warns the Winchester Hospital.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a squeezing of the median nerve at the wrist – this nerve brings feeling to the thumb, index finger, middle fingers, and half the ring finger.
How to respond
The primary treatment for diabetic neuropathy is to lower blood sugar levels.
Making healthy improvements to your lifestyle can stabilise blood sugar levels.
“A healthy diet and keeping active will help you manage your blood sugar level,” explains the NHS.
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There’s nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods.
Foods with a high carbohydrate content are particularly risky because carbs are broken down into glucose relatively fast.
It is important to note that not all carbs present the same risk and the glycaemic index (GI) can help you to differentiate between the different types.
The glycaemic index (GI) is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates.
It shows how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) level when that food is eaten on its own.
Carbohydrate foods that are broken down quickly by your body and cause a rapid increase in blood glucose have a high GI rating.
High GI foods include:
- Sugar and sugary foods
- Sugary soft drinks
- White bread
- White rice.
Low or medium GI foods are broken down more slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels over time.
- Some fruit and vegetables
- Wholegrain foods, such as porridge oats.
What’s more, low GI foods may help you feel fuller for longer.
“This could help control your appetite and may be useful if you’re trying to lose weight,” explains the NHS.
Losing weight also confers direct benefits for type 2 diabetes management.
As Diabetes UK explains, extra weight around your waist means fat can build up around your organs, like your liver and pancreas – this can cause something called insulin resistance.
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