A chronic health condition, diabetes impacts the body’s function of converting food to energy. The food that we eat is broken into sugar i.e., glucose, which is released into the bloodstream. An increase in blood glucose level triggers the pancreas to release insulin, which then facilitates its use as energy by cells. For individuals with diabetes, either enough insulin is not produced or it is not used effectively. This leads to a persistent increase in blood sugar levels which leads to serious health conditions among which kidney diseases, vision loss, and heart disease are most common. The two categories of diabetes are Type 1 and 2, with Type 2 more prevalent in people older than forty years.
Certain risk features are related to the advancement of Type 2 diabetes and these include the following:
Age: The danger of suffering from Type 2 diabetes increases as you get older. This may be due to reduced physical activity, and gain weight as you age.
Sedentary Lifestyle: Increased inactivity leads to greater risk. Physical activity, exercise, and a generally active lifestyle contribute towards the maintenance of healthy body weight and by utilizing glucose in form of energy.
Weight: Fatty tissues become resistant to the impact of insulin therefore, weight gain is a cause for the development of diabetes.
Family history: Prevalence of diabetes especially Type 2 in parent or sibling increases the risk.
Race or ethnicity: Certain people are more susceptible to the development of this disease.
High blood pressure: Blood pressure that ranges over the mercury reading of 140/90 (mm Hg) is associated with a greater risk of type 2 diabetes (Mayo Clinic, 2021).
The common symptoms of diabetes include but are not limited to the following:
- Increased hunger and fatigue
- Increased need for urination
- Dryness of the mouth
- Itchy and dry skin
- Increased level of sugar in the urine
- Blurred vision
- Slow healing of sores and cuts
The following complications are associated with diabetes:
- It is considered as one of the leading risk factors for heart conditions such as a heart attack and stroke.
- Diabetic individuals are two to four times more vulnerable to suffer from stroke and heart attack.
- It can cause neuropathy i.e., nerve damage, and lead to numbness or tingling sensation in the legs.
- It is a leading cause of nephropathy i.e., kidney damage. It often leads to end-stage kidney disease or kidney failure. It may result in the patient requiring a kidney transplant or dialysis treatment.
- It can impair the capillaries surrounding the retina i.e., retinopathy, causing blindness or other conditions including glaucoma and cataracts (D’Arrigo, 2021).
Secondary prevention involves regular screening and tests to identify the development of disease during the early stages especially before the symptoms surface. For diabetes, the purpose of secondary prevention is to diminish the risk of mortality from cardiovascular complications. Preventive measures include:
- Lipid control
- Treatment of hypertension
- Smoking cessation
- Regular eye check-up
- Regular dental care
- Use of Aspirin
- Weight reduction
In older adults, “screening for diabetes complications should be individualized, but particular attention should be paid to complications that would lead to functional impairment” (Anderson JW, 2001). For individuals in a long-term care facility, it is important to take measures for secondary prevention through the following modes:
- Healthy diet
- Daily exercise
- Appropriate medication
- Health Education
Anderson JW, K. E. (2001). Obesity and disease management: Effects of weight loss on comorbid conditions. Obes Res, 9 Suppl 4, 326S-334S. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2001.138
D’Arrigo, T. (2021). Early Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/understanding-diabetes-symptoms
Mayo Clinic. (2021). Diabetes—Symptoms, and causes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371444