“Oftentimes, people don’t realize they have diabetes until there is a real problem. They try to justify or explain away the symptoms which can include extreme thirst or frequent urination. People think that if they drink a lot of water they will urinate frequently so that must be the reason, never thinking it could be a symptom of diabetes,” states Kathy Hauser, RN, who teaches a diabetes education class at the Florida Hospital Diabetes Institute. “They think, ‘if I’m thirsty I’m going to drink water and that’s going to cause me to go to the restroom.’ They don’t make the correlation.” Being thirsty can be a sign of diabetes.
Hauser, who has Type 2 diabetes also, had those same misconceptions before she was diagnosed. “When I was first diagnosed with a blood glucose of 470, I didn’t take it seriously. I thought it was because I was eating a lot of cakes and pies during a family crisis, so that’s why my glucose level was high. I used to drink a lot of water because I knew it was healthy for me and that’s why I went to the restroom so much. I knew that I could stop having diabetes if I lost some weight and ate less sugar. I was given a book to read and a prescription for a blood glucose meter. I didn’t read the book or fill the script because I felt I didn’t need them! I was in complete denial until I started having vision problems two years later.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, blood glucose levels should be between 70-130 mg/dl before meals and less than 180 mg/dl after meals. Other symptoms of diabetes include dry skin, hunger, drowsiness, decreased healing ability and vision changes. When your blood glucose gets high, it can make things hard to read. High blood glucose levels cause the lenses in your eyes to swell which causes the blurred vision. “It scared me. I couldn’t see the clock, I put eye drops in thinking it would help, but it didn’t. A few hours later, the blurriness went away but now I know that’s because my blood glucose went down.”
Hauser went to Centra Care where they quickly checked her eyes and blood glucose level. “They tested my blood glucose and it was in the 300s so they advised me to go to my physician. “
“They gave me some pills and told me to stop eating sweets and lose weight, so I started skipping meals. Here they are giving me a pill to help, but I start cutting out the amount of food I was eating, but I kept having highs and lows. My blood glucose was still not under control.”
According to Debbie Sievers, MSN, RN, Certified Diabetes Educator of at the Florida Hospital Diabetes Institute, “When a person with diabetes skips meals it can result in blood glucose levels that are too low (if on medicine) or too high. Why too high? Studies find that skipping meals results in overeating once the person does eat, with a desire for carbohydrates. Long-term it slows our metabolism (calorie burning) leading to weight gain which causes insulin resistance. Insulin resistance causes the insulin in our body from working properly – it cannot remove the glucose from the blood stream so glucose builds up. The best glucose control is with meals/planned snacks every 4-5 hours and no more than 12 hours without food.”
Stay tuned for part two of Hauser’s story at FloridaHospital.com/Blog.