Diabetes Management

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Managing a chronic disease is surely not easy. But hey! that does not mean it is impossible. Do you know that diabetes is one of the most commonly found chronic diseases globally and in the UAE? And just like any other chronic disease, it requires several things to be appropriately managed. So, the first step of treating and then managing your high blood sugar levels begin with getting tested and identifying your diabetes in the first place. Identifying your type of diabetes is crucial since there are several types of diabetes. Therefore, you need to know the exact type you need to get treated for. So without any further ado, let's begin our diabetes management guide from the different types of diabetes and what risk factors may lead to them. 

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disorder that can be spotted rather early. In this type of diabetes, the patient's immune system attacks the body's insulin-producing cells. Since insulin production is lowered, sugar or glucose that the patient consumes does not break down to enter the bloodstream and produce energy. Worse, it simply stays in its original form and increases the blood sugar level. Unfortunately, Type 1 diabetes has no permanent cure as of now. However, only seeking regular treatment and following whatever the doctor prescribes as per the respective patient's situation is there to the rescue. 

Risk Factors

  • Family history of type 1 diabetes
  • Pre-existing damages to the pancreas 
  • Immune system disorders like hypersensitivity of autoantibodies 
  • Pre-exposure to a type of virus that can trigger type 1 diabetes
  • Physical trauma or stress due to surgery or injury

Type 2 Diabetes: Mostly caused by lifestyle choices, type 2 diabetes often develops later in life rather than in childhood itself. Basically, in type 2 diabetes, the body stops reacting to insulin as it should after a while. Apart from that, Type 2 diabetes is often referred to as insulin-resistant diabetes as well. Moreover, Type 2 diabetes is most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged people or later. Therefore, it is relatively rare to find someone young with type 2 diabetes. Also, do you know that Type 2 diabetes is also the most common type of diabetes globally, with almost 95% of the diabetic population to its name? 

Risk Factors

  • Family history of type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes
  • Race-related factor – People who are African American, Native American, Hispanic, Asian-American, Asian, or Pacific islanders are more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Overweight people
  • People suffering from high blood pressure
  • People over the age of 45 years
  • Low physical activity
  • Low level of good cholesterol or HDL cholesterol
  • Newborns weighing more than 9 pounds or 4 kg
  • History of strokes or heart diseases
  • Being a regular smoker
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome patients

Gestational Diabetes: This type of diabetes is rare and occurs only in pregnant women. Gestational diabetes comes during the pregnancy and goes away after some time during pregnancy or after birth. While gestational diabetes does not last for long, it poses more significant risks in the future for the mother and the baby as well. Furthermore, mothers who have experienced gestational diabetes are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, and the same applies to the baby as well. Therefore, precautions must be practised to ensure both mother and the baby stay safe. 

Risk Factors

  • If the mother has been pre-diabetic for a while before pregnancy
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Overweight women before the pregnancy
  • Pregnant women who are older than 25 years

Diabetes and Health Insurance in the UAE

Health Insurance for Type 1 Diabetes

It is pretty rare to find a health insurance plan that offers coverage for type 1 diabetes. However, most insurance providers that generally offer coverage for type 2 diabetes may not offer the same or any benefits for type 1. The reasoning here is relatively straightforward. Since type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, treating and controlling it is a bit more complicated than with type 2 diabetes. Moreover, the treatment for type 1 diabetes goes on for much longer than type 2. However, exceptions being everywhere, type 1 diabetes is covered by a few healthcare providers in the UAE. 

So, the possible benefits you can get in this coverage include doctor consultations, insulin shots, hospitalisation, rehabilitation and daycare services. In addition, covering for pre-existing diseases and cashless hospitalisation is also available with these plans. There are generally no add-ons available for diabetes cover in health insurance. So, in case you want to get insurance cover for your type 1 diabetes, you have to search for a specific plan that covers diabetes and other diseases and illnesses. 

Health Insurance for Type 2 Diabetes

Most health insurance plans that offer coverage for diabetes include type 2 diabetes in their list. The most common benefits you can expect to find here include pre and post hospitalisation cover, daycare services cover, cashless hospitalisation cover, and cover for a pre-existing condition. However, covering for pre-existing conditions is only applicable when you buy your insurance plan after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. In case you had bought the plan already, the pre-existing condition cover does not apply. Yet again, you cannot buy an add-on cover for type 2 diabetes specifically. You have to find the specific health insurance plan that covers it. 

Health Insurance for Gestational Diabetes 

Your common health insurance in the UAE won't cover gestational diabetes. However, if your health insurance plan comes with maternity cover, you will get significant coverage for the same. Since gestational diabetes only happens when you are pregnant, there is no need for normal health insurance coverage to include it as a potential cover. Additionally, maternity plans covering gestational diabetes cover your diabetes screenings, tests, and insulin if deemed medically necessary by the doctor. 

When Is the Waiting Period Applicable, and How Long is It?

The waiting period on your diabetes cover is only applicable if it is categorised as a pre-existing condition by the provider. Adding to that, the waiting period for pre-existing conditions can range from 6 months to 2 years in the UAE, depending on the provider. However, more exclusive and expensive plans have a shorter waiting period, while a cost-effective, affordable health insurance plan may have a more extended waiting period. 

When Should You Consider Buying Health Insurance Plan with Diabetes Cover?

Even though every health insurance plan is required to cover pre-existing diseases in the UAE, it is smarter to buy your insurance without letting diabetes fall into the category of a pre-existing illness. Over and beyond, if you wait for the very last moment to buy your health insurance, you will not only face trouble in finding the perfect plan since you will be in a hurry to make the purchase but will also have to pay a very high premium. Therefore, the right time to start researching your diabetes health insurance plan is when you find yourself at risk of developing diabetes. Having said that, once you start observing alarming signs or become pre-diabetic, it is wise to quickly conduct your research and buy the insurance plan that you like the best. Furthermore, people with a family history of type 2 diabetes should, in fact, get on with their buying process much earlier. In addition to buying your health insurance plan in time, it is also necessary that you keep getting yourself tested from time to time to get a real-time idea of where you stand with your blood glucose levels.  

Living with Diabetes – What Can You Expect?

Your experience of living with diabetes can differ as per the type of diabetes you have. For people with type 2 diabetes, living and dealing with it is nothing more than a few medicines and a few changes in their lifestyle and habits. Moreover, Type 2 diabetes patients can expect to lead a life of precautions and prohibitions for quite some time, along with running the course of their prescribed medicines. Apart from that, dietary and other prohibitions should be exercised to ensure it doesn't pop up again even when their blood sugar levels have been brought under control. Alongside, living with type 2 diabetes is much like your ideal everyday life – eating well, taking up healthy habits, meditation, regular tests and screenings, and physical exercises. 

However, the scenario can be much different for people with type 1 diabetes. Since this is an autoimmune disease, patients continuously have to take insulin shots or medicines. Sadly, simply changing lifestyle habits does not do much good with type 1 diabetes; Worse, going in the reverse direction may increase their health risks. However, the living situation with type 1 diabetes might feel normal after a while since it is often diagnosed in childhood. 

Managing Your Diabetes Like a Pro

Believe it or not, it won't take a lot to manage your diabetes. It sounds quite discomforting to realise that you may have to live with a condition for a rather prolonged time, maybe for the rest of your life. But here's the good thing about diabetes- it can easily be controlled and brought down from life-threatening levels. Following are some of the things you must do to manage your diabetes like a pro:

Take Care of the Diabetes ABCS

The first step you need to take when managing your diabetes is your ABCS. The ABCS of diabetes is a series of 'dos' you need to take care of when diagnosed with any type of diabetes. 

  • A = A1C Test: Unlike a generic blood glucose level test, the A1C test will show you the graph of your sugar levels for the past three months in an instant. You may know of it as the HbA1C test as well. Additionally, it is the blood that determines the sugar level in your bloodstream by observing the attached glucose molecule to the haemoglobin in the body's red blood cells. For that matter, your A1C test will be the first test and screening in your diabetes management plan. In addition, it is often used even to identify type 2 diabetics and pre-diabetics. Your goal here as a pre-diabetic or diabetic person should be to get results lower than 7% at least.
  • B = Blood Pressure: It is often common for diabetic people to have slightly high blood pressure. However, your goal here must be 140/90 mm Hg. This is what most people are prescribed. Therefore, please speak to your doctor and get a better idea of your personalised blood pressure goals and take the necessary steps to maintain them. Also, ensure that you keep track of your blood pressure in real-time. 
  • C = Cholesterol: Diabetes is known to lower the level of "good" cholesterol, aka HDL cholesterol, in your body and increase bad cholesterol levels, aka LDL. In turn, too much LDL cholesterol leads to blockage in arteries and may cause heart attacks or strokes. Therefore, get your cholesterol tested as soon as you find out you are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Moreover, take necessary measures to control your bad cholesterol and increase your good cholesterol. 
  • S = Stop Smoking Right Away: If you smoke, you increase the risk of turning your diabetes into a life-threatening disease. And, of course, smoking narrows the blood vessels in addition to damaging your lungs. In addition, diabetes also happens to narrow the blood vessels by increasing bad cholesterol. This equals double the threat of having a heart attack or a stroke. Therefore, an intelligent choice for you is to stop smoking right away, especially if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. Here are all the benefits you can look forward to if you quit smoking – 
  • Lowered risks of heart attacks and strokes. Add vision loss due to diabetes, kidney diseases and nerve diseases to that list
  • Improves blood pressure as well as cholesterol
  • Improves blood circulation
  • It makes it easier to work out and indulge in physical activities

Get Your Meal Plans Prepared 

What you eat is incredibly important when it comes to being diabetic. The prime reason for the same is that your food choices can significantly impact diabetes management. Since your blood sugar level must already be very high with diabetes, your goal should be to eat fewer carbs and more protein and fibre. So, ask your doctor to create a good meal plan to control your diabetes. For better results, you should choose as many green leafy vegetables, beans, grains, low-sugar fruits, chicken, fish, lean meats, non-fat milk, cheese, and other similarly healthy food items.

Moreover, replace your artificially sweetened drinks with water or nourishing options like coconut water. Also, avoid foods with high sugar, calories, trans fats, saturated fats and salt. Even high-sugar fruits shall be avoided. Finally, make sure you stick to your diet plan even after your sugar is back to its normal levels. 

Add Workout to Your Routine

Since being overweight can also lead to diabetes, physical exercise to burn those extra calories becomes utterly crucial. Therefore, firstly, make sure that you work out 2-3 times a week. If your doctor has prescribed a certain level and hours of physical activity, be sure to follow through with their advice. If you can exercise every day, 30 minutes of work out shall be sufficient. Adding to that, taking up interesting activities like swimming or tennis can help gain interest in sparing more time for work out. In essence, eating healthy and getting regular exercise will do wonders for your diabetes. 

Never Forget Medicines

Medicines are generally only prescribed when diet and lifestyle changes are insufficient to get the desired changes. So, if your doctor has prescribed you some medicines to control your blood glucose levels, always take your medicine and complete the course even if you feel that you are doing good now. Skipping medicines is surely not a good idea. For good measure, your diabetes medicines could be covered by your health insurance provider as well. So, have a word with the concerned authority and figure the details out. 

Keep Track of Your Blood Sugar Levels

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, getting a home blood sugar testing kit and regularly checking your blood sugar levels can help expansively. Initially, take the test every day until your doctor approves your improvement. Next, even after you have your sugar under control, keep testing every other day to ensure no fluctuations whatsoever. Also, note that high blood sugar levels may lead to thirst, headaches, blurred vision, fatigue, and frequent urination, so don't forget to track these symptoms. 

Adopt Soothing Activities and Habits

Managing diabetes can be complicated and stressful. But do you know stress itself may become a trigger for your blood sugar levels? Therefore, it would help if you manage your stress in a more positive, soothing manner. For example, take up some relaxing hobbies like gardening, yoga, reading, etc. Encapsulating, find healthy ways to cope with your diabetes instead of stressing out about it. If required, join a support group and meet others on the same pedestal. Finally, get enough sleep every day and focus your energies on getting better and better every day. 

Create a Planner and Stick to It

From doctor visits to medicines and meal plans, everything about your diabetes management should be ideally planned. Begin with meeting up with your primary care physician and create a planner for yourself. If required, add a health care team to the planner as well. Thereafter, keep track of your blood sugar level and ensure that you have made important notes about your symptoms. Basically, make sure you are on point with everything about your health and diabetes, at least for as long as your treatment is going on. 

Follow Your Everyday To-Do List

You will have to do a few things every day when you are actively getting treated for diabetes. Overall, high blood sugar levels can lead to several other health problems and make your health even worse. For example, an open wound may not heal at its regular rate. Therefore, your to-do list should contain checking your hands and feet for any new cuts and blisters, brushing regularly but flossing softly, tracking your progress and informing the doctor about anything that seems off. 

What Should Your Doctor Visits Be Like?

A big part of diabetes management is your doctor visits. For example, you may be visiting your doctor quite a lot for the next few months or even a year. Therefore, you must get the best out of each visit and make sure that you get everything necessary done. Now, let's have a look at what exactly you should keep in mind while visiting your doctor so you don't miss anything.

  • Tests to Get Done: Get all your tests done when you visit the doctor. This includes blood sugar level, cholesterol, and other prescribed tests by the doctor. If possible, obtain a real-time report and get it examined the same day. 
  • Cater Health Goals: There could be possible fluctuations in your blood sugar levels compared to your last visit, so make sure that you cater your meal plans and physical exercise goals as per the current situation. 
  • Talk Freely to the Doctor: Let your doctor know about every small and big thing related to your health, no matter how silly you find it. For example, you may think that a small cut that healed in a slightly longer time needs no mention, but it does. So, speak out to your doctor, even about the minutest details concerning your health. 

The Final Verdict

The base of diabetes is that it is not only a chronic disease that requires a lot of attention and care, but it may also lead to several additional health issues. Not only that, since diabetes requires a long treatment time, it may often lead to stress, irritability and depression as most chronic diseases do. Therefore, the key thing to remember here is that diabetes is highly treatable and can be controlled rather easily with just a little precaution. On top of it, your health insurance plans offer quality coverage to back you up financially. So, simply following your doctor's advice and diabetes management will be a piece of cake from thereon.