Since the beginning of November, I’ve been actively raising awareness for Type 1 Diabetes across my social media profiles by sharing daily facts and posting my Diabetes-related photo of the day each day, in support of Diabetes Awareness Month. But did you know there are other types of Diabetes, including Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes? Now I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about the other Diabetes types, but NRS Healthcare have created a very helpful, but easy to follow infographic explaining about the 3 particular types, their causes, and the signs and symptoms of Hypo and Hyper-glycemia (low and high blood sugar levels), as well as lots of interesting facts that you may not already know.
A hypo and a hyper-glycemia can prove fatal if left untreated for too long. Those experiencing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) must treat it quickly with fast acting glucose, usually in the form of lucozade or coca cola, or by eating a few Jelly Babies or glucose tablets. Mini packs of Haribos are my choice treatment. They contain 16g of fast acting carbs, the exact amount required to quickly bring up my sugar levels. They sell them cheaply in Home Bargains if anyone’s wondering. An untreated hypo will quickly lead to unconsciousness, brain damage or death.
Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) occurs when there is too much glucose in the blood. Insulin is needed to bring it back down to normal levels. The symptoms of high blood sugar develop much slower than a hypo, usually over a number of hours. If left untreated, it develops into a more serious life threatening condition called Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), which is caused when the body, unable to break glucose down into energy due to a lack of insulin, starts to break down the fats instead. This causes a harmful substance called Ketones, which poisons the body. Symptoms of DKA include dehydration, sickness, stomach pains, drowsiness, unconsciousness and eventually death.
I experienced DKA just once, aged 22 years old and I could feel myself on death’s door. I had a tummy bug, but not really knowing how to take care of my condition properly, especially during illness, I thought I was doing myself a favour by reducing my insulin largely. The way I saw it was, I couldn’t eat because food made me vomit, so I was too scared to take insulin incase I had a hypo and the sickness left me unable to treat the hypo. A vicious circle. I became dehydrated and was eventually vomiting so much that there was nothing left to bring up. That’s when the excruciating stomach pains started. The pains were so bad that I questioned whether I could have been unknowingly pregnant and actually in labour. Terrified, I ran to a neighbour’s house, screaming in agony. An ambulance arrived soon after and I was rushed to hospital where I was diagnosed with DKA. I don’t remember much about that day, but I do remember experiencing hallucinations, convinced that my sister and a friend were playing hide and seek with my Dad on the ward. Craziest thing was, none of them were even there at the hospital with me! I also begged my Mum to rip out the wires that were attached to me so that we could do a runner and go home. My Mum, as any Mum quite rightly would, refused to help me. It must have been terrifying for her to see me like that.
Over the last few years I’ve been hearing stories in the news of young girls suffering from a condition called Diabulimia, an eating disorder where Type 1 Diabetics stop treating themselves with insulin in order to lose weight. As you now know, the results can prove fatal. NRS Healthcare have created a fantastic video to warn of the dangers of Diabulimia, it has certainly taught me a lot more than I knew! Their campaign has also been featured in The Express, and gives information about a Charity that has been set up recently for Diabulimics. Personally, my message to young girls (and boys) who are thinking of losing weight this way is “Please don’t!” The long term health effects are certainly not worth it, there are ways of losing weight that will not damage your health. It’s just not worth it! Each time I get a sickness bug, the memory of the pain comes back to haunt me and it scares me. Luckily nowadays, I’m pretty clued up on what I need to do to ensure my control stays on track during times of illness, so the chances of me experiencing another episode of DKA anytime soon are, touch wood, very little.
Disclosure: This post contains sponsored content, though the stories told are 100% my own.