What If You Do Nothing?
If untreated, either type of diabetes will lead to abnormally high levels of glucose in the blood (hyperglycemia). In the case of type 1 diabetes, this can quickly become an emergency. Letting type 2 diabetes go uncontrolled will eventually precipitate a number of serious long-term complications, including cardiac and other vascular diseases, hypertension, stroke, and diseases of the eyes, nerves, and kidneys.
Home Remedies for Diabetes Mellitus
There are no home remedies, per se, for diabetes. Lifestyle measures, especially exercise and dietary modifications, play a crucial role in controlling diabetes, but anyone diagnosed with the disorder should be under the care of a physician. Your doctor needs to monitor the progress of your symptoms, be alert to possible complications from diabetes, prescribe appropriate medications, and instruct you in the use of those medications.
At the same time, the most intelligent step a person with diabetes can take is to become well educated about the condition. The American Diabetic Association and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases are excellent starting points for information. In addition, your doctor or health plan may refer you to a diabetes educator - a specialist who is skilled in teaching you about healthful eating, exercise, medications, insulin administration, and overall psychological adjustment.
Beyond Home Remedies: When To Call Your Doctor
You need to call your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms of diabetes, especially a sudden or gradual increase in hunger, thirst, or urine output.
If you have diabetes, you should contact your doctor if you contract an illness with fever and chills, such as flu, urinary infections, dental infections, or wintertime bronchial infections, which can cause your blood glucose levels to go out of control. You should also see your doctor if you develop any skin sores, rashes, or other skin changes that don't heal.
In particular, diabetes reduces sensation in the feet, so that small sores or other foot problems may go unnoticed and can subsequently turn into major infections. Therefore, it's important to inspect your feet every day for irritation and sores and to see your doctor if you develop a foot problem. And because diabetes can cause serious eye complications, everyone with diabetes should get an annual eye examination.
Also call your doctor right away if you experience signs or symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar nonketotic states. If you are with someone who experiences these symptoms and unconsciousness occurs, call an ambulance.
What Your Doctor Will Do
Diabetes is diagnosed by measuring blood glucose levels. Your doctor may also order additional tests to evaluate possible kidney damage and risk factors for heart disease.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor will work with you to set up a diabetes care plan aimed at keeping your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. For type 2 diabetes, if your symptoms are mild, your doctor may initially recommend dietary changes, weight control, and exercise. Later, your doctor may add any of a number of oral medications that reduce the level of blood sugar. If an oral drug or combination of drugs fails to bring your blood sugar under control, your doctor may recommend that you also start using insulin. No matter what medications are used, however, it’s important that you continue lifestyle measures.
In addition, people with either type of diabetes should, under the guidance of their doctors, perform blood tests at home to measure glucose levels. Your doctor, a nutritionist, and/or a diabetes educator who specializes in instruction on day-to-day care will advise you about dietary guidelines and exercise. Your doctor will also provide a daily timetable to coordinate eating, exercising, monitoring your blood glucose, and taking any medications, including insulin. It's important to follow the timetable.
As part of your diabetes care plan, your doctor may refer you to other specialists, including a dietitian, a podiatrist (for routine foot care), and an endocrinologist (who specializes in the treatment of diabetes and other disorders of the hormonal system).
The Complete Home Wellness Handbook
John Edward Swartzberg, M.D., F.A.C.P., Sheldon Margen, M.D., and the editors of the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter
Updated by Remedy Health Media