Diabetes can be described as a health condition that is triggered by malfunctioned metabolism. This is one of the chronic conditions affecting people all over the world. It is a condition that cannot be cured. Therefore, this condition affects the individual throughout his or her lifetime and can only be managed (Cheek and Oster, 2002). This paper shall offer a critical analysis of diabetes, describe the common experiences of the condition, analyse the beneficial self-management activities in detail and identify some of the community support organizations for those living with the condition.
Diabetes can be defined as a chronic condition that results from a malfunction in the body’s metabolic functioning. In this respect, the body has issues in the conversion of glucose into energy that results to the presence of high sugar levels in the blood. This may be due to insufficient production of insulin or lack of appropriate response from the body to insulin (McDowell, Matthews and Brown, 2007). Insulin is a very critical hormone that helps in breaking down blood sugars. Therefore, diabetic patients are known for the high presence of sugars in the blood due to a defect in insulin functioning. Essentially, there are three main types of diabetes. They include type I diabetes, type II diabetes, and gestational diabetes (Colwell, 2003).
Type I diabetes can be described as a diabetic condition that emanates from the body’s failure to produce insulin. This means that the blood sugars cannot be converted into energy for body use. In this case, the body is forced to turn to the fat deposits in generating energy. The burning of fats by the body may lead to the accumulation of harmful substances within the body. Therefore, it is important for individuals suffering from type I diabetes to ensure that they get insulin injections to avert this danger. This form of diabetes is often developed before one reaches the age of forty. This condition is not very common, and it is estimated that type I diabetes accounts for about 10 per cent of the reported diabetes incidences in the world (Peacock, 2000).
As for type II diabetes, the condition is triggered by the body’s failure to produce sufficient insulin. Also, this may be triggered by failure of the body to respond to the insulin produced. This is the most common form of diabetes that is approximated to be affecting about 90 per cent of all diabetic cases. This form of diabetes can be attributed to genetic and environmental aspects. Nonetheless, the environmental aspects take precedence in that lifestyle factors play a critical role in the development of the condition (Ellison and Rayman, 1998; Handley, Pullon and Gifford, 2010).
Lastly, the gestational diabetes is known to affect women during pregnancy. Notably, when a woman is pregnant, she needs a lot of insulin. When the body fails to produce sufficient insulin as required, such women develop what is called gestational diabetes. It has been estimated that between 3 and 8 per cent of pregnant women stands a chance to get gestational diabetes. This is when the pregnancy is about six or seven months old. Those suffering from gestational diabetes stand a high chance of developing type II diabetes (Leslie and Robbins, 1995; Whittemore, Chase, Mandle and Roy, 2002).
Common experiences of those living with diabetes
Diabetes has an elaborate set of signs and symptoms. As for type I diabetes, the symptoms are quite impulsive and can be severe. On the other hand, the symptoms for type II diabetes are gradual and can be hard to notice (Swilling, 2005). There are common experiences that individuals suffering from diabetes do experience. When there is high presence of sugar in the blood, an individual will experience frequent urge to urinate. This is because the body works hard to remove the excess sugar levels in the blood through excretion (Pooley, Gerrard, Hollis, Morton and Astbury, 2001). This increases urination and can lead to dehydration. This leads to yet another experience among people with diabetes. These patients will feel thirsty all the time due to dehydration. Similarly, the body cells are deprived of the critical glucose energy for proper functioning. This brings about the feeling of fatigue. Individuals with diabetes always feel fatigued. This is as a result of dehydration and lack of sugar absorption from the blood (Paterson, Thorne and Dewis, 1998).
Diabetic patients are likely to experience weight loss. When an individual loses a substantial amount of blood sugars through excretion, a lot of calories are also lost. Similarly, the diabetic condition may result to a scenario where the food eaten is not absorbed into the body cells, especially the sugars. This leads to a feeling of persistent hunger among diabetic patients. All these issues culminate into a sharp drop in weight of the affected victim. This is very common among those suffering from type I diabetes (Shaw and Cummings, 2012).
It has been noted that diabetic patients experience difficulties in vision. Notably, they experience blurred vision. This can be explained through the body processes aimed at ensuring a homeostatic balance. In this case, high concentration of sugar levels in the blood triggers the movement of fluids from the body tissues. This includes the eye lenses hence affecting the ability to focus. If diabetes is not treated, formation of new blood vessels in the retina and the destruction of the existing vessels are bound to happen. These preliminary changes may not lead to visual problems among many people. Nonetheless, if the trend continues without being treated, it may lead to visual problems and even blindness (Polonsky, 1999).
There is another experience that is common among diabetic patients. Diabetic patients usually experience slow healing of wounds, and they suffer various infections from time to time. This assertion lacks extensive research, but it can be presumed that the presence of high sugar levels in the blood negatively affects the healing process, and the capacity to combat infections. In women victims, they are prone to bladder and vaginal infections (Rapaport, Cohen and Riddle, 2000).
Diabetic patients also experiences tingling of hands and feet. This can be said to emanate from the high level of sugars in the blood that damages the nerves. The patients may experience loss of the sense of feeling in hands and feet. They may also experience a sharp pain in the limbs. Diabetes is known to weaken the capacity of the body to fight germs. This makes individuals prone to infections especially in the gums and jaw bones. The diabetic patients may experience red, swollen, and tender gums. This may lead to deformities in gums, and the teeth may loosen (Peel, Parry, Douglas and Lawton, 2004).
Beneficial self management activities
Patients suffering from diabetes should engage in beneficial activities that may help in the management of their condition. Although diabetes is not curable, the condition can be controlled. In this respect, there are various beneficial activities that may help in the management of diabetes (Bycroft, and Tracey, 2006). Treatment is the first activity that can benefit the patient. Treatment is aimed at maintaining an appropriate blood sugar level in the blood. Treatment involves the need to balance lifestyle factors and medication (Mayo Clinic, 2008).
Beneficial activities for diabetic patients include strict diet and exercises. In general, those suffering from diabetes should avoid foods that are rich in refined sugars. Such foods include chocolate, jam, sweetened soft drinks and cookies among others. These individuals should eat foods that are known as natural carbohydrates. Such foods include fruits, cereals, and vegetables among others. It is important for the diet to contain low fats and be rich in fibre(Koch, Jenkin and Kralik, 2004). Given that alcohol has a high content of sugars, its intake should be limited. The sick individual should also maintain a regular eating pattern to ensure that a balanced is maintained among the glucose levels in the blood. Eating is a critical aspect in treating diabetes. Therefore, individuals are advised to incorporate the skills of a dietician in developing an appropriate food plan (Mayo Clinic, 2011; Simmons, et al., 1998).
Another beneficial activity that can be adopted by diabetic patients is involvement in exercise. Involvement in exercises is beneficial in maintaining a desirable body weight. This also helps in controlling blood pressure levels. This is critical as it assists in the reduction of the risks associated with diabetes. Such risks include the cardiovascular ailments such as heart attacks and strokes. Notably, excessive indulgence in exercises can lead to extreme reductions in the blood sugar levels. Therefore, the exercises should be regulated and moderated (Mayo Clinic, 2008; Horsburgh, Goodyear-Smith and Yallop, 2007).
The other lifestyle activities that can be recommended for diabetic patients include effective management of stress. This is because stress is known to impede the control of glucose levels in the blood. Diabetic patients who smoke should stop their habit since smoking raises the chance of developing various complications (Nagelkerk, Reick and Meengs, 2006). Diabetic patients should also take medication as part of the disease management (Holman and Lorig, 2004). There are diabetic tablets that can be used by type II diabetic patients in the management of the condition. Also, insulin injections are highly recommended for patients with diabetes. The injection helps in the management of the sugar levels in the blood. All these are some of the beneficial activities that diabetic patient can engage in the management of the condition (Mayo Clinic, 2008).
Community support organizations
Diabetic patients require support from various quarters including family, friends, and individuals with the same condition. The management of diabetes requires numerous skills such as self-care, self management, and coping (Newman, Steed and Mulligan, 2004; Skoveland, 2004). These aspects can be boosted through community support groups. The community support groups are critical in the management of diabetes. In this respect, there are various community support groups that aim at helping people living with diabetes (Mayo Clinic, 2008).
In Australia, there are various community support groups that can assist diabetic patients in the management of their condition. Support groups have proved essential in the management of the condition. In this respect, support groups provide support and encouragement to people living with the condition. The support groups are critical in the provision of educational and emotional support. They provide opportunities where individuals share their personal experiences in dealing with diabetes (Mayo Clinic, 2008). In Australia, there is the Diabetes Australia that serves as the umbrella organization aimed at supporting individuals suffering from diabetes. It also covers professionals and research organizations that are dedicated towards the management of diabetes.
The various community support groups have been categorized as type I and II diabetes support groups. In this respect, the type I diabetes support groups include: Bendigo T1 Kids Group & Family Support Group; Diabetes Referral Centre Inc.; D-KIDS; D-Tales; Family Support for Type 1 Diabetes; Fun, Food and Exercise; Geelong Family Support; Geelong RADs (Regional Adults with Diabetes); HypoActive; Insulin Pump Group of Victoria; Latrobe Valley Type 1 Support Group; Manningham Type 1 Support Group; Melbourne Type 1 Group; My-T1; OAT 1D; Parents in the East; Sugarbabes and Sweet Sisters (Diabetes Australia-Vic, 2008).
On the other hand, the type II community support groups in Australia include: Ararat Diabetes Support Group; Bairnsdale Diabetes Support Group; Ballarat Eureka Diabetes Support Group; Banyule Diabetes Support Group; Beaufort Diabetes Support Group; Benalla Diabetes Support Group; Bendigo Diabetes Support Group; Birchip Diabetes Support Group; Brimbank Diabetes Support Group; Broadmeadows Diabetes Support Group; Cardinia Awareness Group; Casterton Diabetes Support Group and Charlton Diabetes Support Group among others (Diabetes Australia-Vic, 2008). All the support groups are aimed at assisting individuals with diabetes in the management and treatment of the condition.
It can be noted that diabetes is a chronic disease that affects many people across the world. The condition has no cure, but can be managed effectively. Diabetes can be best managed when it is discovered earlier. Early discovery of the condition ensures that treatment begins early enough. Although this is a lifelong condition, the incorporation of a health care team and support from community groups are critical in the management of the condition.