Frequently asked questions about diabetes

Diabetes is often thought of – especially from the outside looking in – as a single entity. But like cancer, diabetes mellitus is actually a group of related diseases. What are those diseases? Learn the answer to that and other frequently asked questions about diabetes here at Discount Medical Supplies.

Frequently asked questions about diabetes

1.What is diabetes mellitus?

This is a disorder that encompasses several different conditions, but all of them revolve around the relationship between blood sugar (the amount of glucose in the blood) – which in all forms of diabetes is abnormally high – and insulin.

2.What is glucose?

When we eat, our bodies transform most of the food we consume into glucose – or sugar – to be stored or used as energy.

3.How can you measure blood glucose levels?

You can measure blood glucose levels with a glucose meter.

4.What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps cells absorb glucose from the blood.

5.When does diabetes happen?

Diabetes occurs when the body either cannot produce its own insulin or is unable to use it properly. As a result, glucose accumulates in the blood.

6.What causes diabetes?

The exact causes of diabetes are not known, though genetic and environmental factors are believe to contribute to its onset.

7.What are the types of diabetes?

·         Pre-diabetes. When blood sugar levels are higher than they should be but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.

·         Type 1 diabetes. Formerly known as  insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or juvenile-onset diabetes, type 1 accounts for approximately 5 % of all cases of diabetes.

·         Type 2 diabetes. Formerly called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or adult-onset diabetes, type 2 accounts for 90%-95% of all cases of diabetes.

·         Gestational diabetes. When glucose dangerously rises in pregnant women.

·         Other. Caused by specific genetic syndromes, surgery, drugs, malnutrition, infections, and other illnesses account for 1%-5% of all cases of diabetes.

8.What’s the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

·         In type 1, the immune system goes berserk and kills the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.

·         In type 2, the cells in the body develop insulin-resistance, and the pancreas can’t keep up with the demand for insulin that this situation creates.

·         Both types can appear at any age, but type 1 is more common in children and adolescents, while type 2 is more common in people older than 40 years of age. 

9.What are the symptoms of diabetes?

  • Increased thirst.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Severe hunger.
  • Unexplained loss of weight.
  • Ketones in the urine (ketones are a byproduct of the breakdown of muscle and fat that occurs when enough insulin is not available).
  • Fatigue.
  • Irritability.
  • Suden changes in vision.
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet.
  • Dry skin.
  • Sores that heal slowly.
  • Recurrent infections, such as gums or skin infections and vaginal infections.

10.What are the risk factors for diabetes?

Type 1:

·         Family history.

·         Presence of autoantibodies.

·         Dietary factors (low vitamin D consumption, early exposure to cow's milk or cow's milk formula, and exposure to cereals before 4 months of age).

Type 2:

·         Weight.

·         A sedentary lifestyle.

·         Family history.

·         Hispanic, American Indian, and Asian American ethnicity.

·         Age.

·         Having been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

·         Polycystic ovary syndrome.

·         High blood pressure.

·         Low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

·         High levels of triglycerides.

Gestational diabetes:

·         Age.

·         Family or personal history.

·         Weight.

·         Hispanic, American Indian or Asian ethnicity.

11.What are the potential complications of diabetes?

·         Cardiovascular disease.

·         Neuropathy.

·         Kidney damage.

·         Eye diseases.

·         Foot damage.

·         Skin conditions.

·         Hearing problems.

·         Alzheimer’s disease.

·         Amputation.

·         Metabolic syndrome.

12.What are the potential complications of gestational diabetes?

In the baby:

·         Excess growth.

·         Low blood sugar.

·         Type 2 diabetes later in life.


·         In the mother:

·         Preeclampsia.

·         Recurrence in future pregnancies.

13.Who should be screened for diabetes?

Anyone with a body mass index higher than 25.

Anyone over the age o 45.

14.How is diabetes diagnosed?

·         Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test.

·         Random blood sugar test. 

·         Fasting blood sugar test.

·         Oral glucose tolerance test.

15.How is diabetes treated?

·         A healthy diet.

·         Exercise.

·         Monitoring blood sugar.

·         Insulin therapy.

·         Oral or injected medications.

·         Pancreas transplant.

·         Bariatric surgery.

16.How is insulin administered?

·         Injected with a needle and syringe, or with an insulin pen.

·         With an insulin pump.

·         Insulin can't be administered orally to lower blood sugar because stomach enzymes interfere with its action.

17.How can type 2 diabetes be prevented?

Eating a healthy diet, exercising daily, and losing excess weight can not only help manage type 2 diabetes, but can also help prevent it.

18.How to prevent the complications of diabetes?

·         Wear a medical bracelet identifying yourself as a diabetic.

·         Quit smoking.

·         Drink alcohol in moderation.

·         Get a hemoglobin A1C test at least twice a year to determine your average blood glucose level for the past 2-3 months.

·         Get your blood pressure checked at every doctor’s visit.

·         Get your cholesterol checked at least once a year.

·         Take medications if, and as, prescribed by your doctor.

·         Have an eye doctor give you a dilated eye exam at least once a year.

·         Get your blood and urine checked for kidney problems each year.

·         Take care of your feet.

-        Look for cuts, cracks, sores, red spots, swelling, infected toenails, splinters, blisters, and calluses on the feet every day.

-        Call your doctor if such wounds do not heal after one day.

-        Ask your doctor or podiatrist about the best way to care for corns and calluses.

-        Wash your feet in warm water and dry them well.

-        Cut your toenails once weekly or when needed.

-        Cut toenails when they are soft from washing. Cut them to the shape of the toe and not too short. File the edges with an emery board.

-        Rub lotion on the tops and bottoms of feet, but not between the toes, to prevent cracking and drying.

-        Wear shoes that fit well.

-        Break in new shoes slowly, by wearing them 1-2 hours every day for the first 1-2 weeks.

-        Wear stockings or socks to avoid blisters and sores.

-        Wear clean, lightly padded socks that fit well; preferably seamless socks.

-        Always wear shoes or slippers; when you are barefoot it is easy to step on something and hurt your feet.

-        Protect your feet from extreme heat and cold.

-        When sitting, keep the blood flowing to your lower limbs by propping your feet up and moving your toes and ankles for a few minutes at a time.

·         Brush teeth twice a day.

·         Floss once a day.

·         Keep any dentures clean.

·         Get a dental cleaning and exam twice a year.

·         Tell your dentist that you have diabetes. 

·         Take prescription flu medicine when prescribed by your healthcare provider.

19.How does diabetes affect response to cold/flu?

Being sick can cause changes in blood sugars. Additionally, illness can prevent you from eating properly, further affecting blood glucose. Moreover, sometimes diabetes can make it more difficult for people to handle the flu. People with diabetes who get the flu may become very sick and have to go to a hospital.

20.How can people with diabetes prevent getting a cold/the flu?

·         Getting the flu shot every year.

·         Covering nose and mouth with a tissue when you coughing or sneezing, and throwing the tissue in the trash after you use it.

·         Washing hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing.

·         If soap and water are not available, using an alcohol-based hand rub.

·         Not touching the eyes, nose and mouth.

·         Trying to avoid close contact with sick people.

·         Keep enough medications and home medical supplies to last for a week.

21.What precautions should diabetics take on sick days?

·         Continue taking diabetes pills or insulin, even if you can’t eat. Your healthcare provider may even advise you to take more insulin during sickness.

·         Test your blood glucose every four hours, and keep track of the results.

·         Drink extra (calorie-free) liquids, and try to eat as you normally would. If you can’t, try soft foods and liquids containing the equivalent amount of carbohydrates you usually consume.

·         Weigh yourself every day.

·         Check your temperature every morning and evening.


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