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Medical Dumps for Writers: Diabetes

I spent five years working in a variety of different types of medicine, and this gave me a ton of knowledge about random medical information I have no other reason to share besides wanting to help authors make the medical aspects of their books realistic.

Diabetes is an incredibly common disease, and most young adults will be told they are pre-diabetic in their lifetime due to diet and lifestyle. However, there are tons of misconceptions about diabetes and I'm here to explain them as best as possible.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes, otherwise known as juvenile diabetes, is a malfunction of the pancreas where it makes little to no insulin. Infant children can have this kind of diabetes, as well as can happen throughout the lifetime. There is no cure to Type 1 diabetes, and treatment is managed with insulin, diet, and lifestyle.

Common symptoms of Type 1 diabetes includes:

  • feeling more thirsty

  • urinating a lot

  • bed-wetting

  • being very hungry

  • losing weight without trying

  • mood changes

  • feeling tired and weak

Diabetics usually track their blood sugar levels with a glucose monitor. There are many versions of these on the market, including finger pricks and glucose monitoring systems.

Glucose finger pricks are something you might've gotten at the doctor before. A nurse cleans the inside of your finger with an alcohol swab and then pricks your finger with a small needle. The nurse will wipe the first drop of blood away and then slightly squeeze your finger to get another drop--this is to prevent contamination from skin. A small strip will collect the blood and be placed into a monitor for a reading.

A glucose monitoring system is a small device attached to a meaty area of the skin, such as the belly, thighs, and upper arm. It works by injecting a catheter into your skin and then having a device clicked in place on top, which sends constant glucose readings to a device or app on your phone and alerts you when you're low or high.

Most diabetics range between 120-200, the higher the number the more likely they are to be experiencing symptoms. Diabetics need insulin to control their blood sugar levels. They will check their levels often, such as in the morning, before and after meals, and at night.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes is the most misunderstood types due to its associated with sugary foods and obesity. While the reality is that sugary foods and an unbalanced diet leads to Type 2 diabetes, it has nothing to do with the person's weight. Some people who become Type 2 Diabetics might lose weight after treatment starts, but obesity is not a requirement, nor is it the reality for a lot of diabetics.

Type 2 diabetes happens when your body becomes resistant to insulin and begin to not take in sugar. This leads to increased levels of sugar in the blood stream. Exactly why this happens is unknown, but diet plays a huge part.

Blood sugar levels are monitored similarly to Type 1, with some patients able to manage their diabetes entirely by diet and lifestyle changes. Some patients might need to supplement with insulin.

Insulin Administration

Insulin administration has become pretty easy in recent years, with automatic injectors becoming more common place. However, some diabetic still rely on needles and medication bottles to survive.

Diabetic blood sugar ranges from 120-200+ with a normal range between 110-150. Higher and lower blood sugars might be an issue for your character.

You can insert insulin into the meaty areas of your body, such as your belly, thighs, and arms. The site must be wiped with an alcohol pad before using an automatic injector. This comes pre-filled with the insulin you need and can be disposed of afterwards. If using your own needles, you will have a clear medication bottle of insulin that is multi-use. You will wipe the top of the multi-use vial with an alcohol pad every use, and then insert a needle/syringe into the bottle to draw up the amount you need. Once it's drawn up, make sure to get the air out with a few taps before injecting.

Diabetic Tropes to Avoid

Diabetics are not always fat, nor is obesity a precursor towards diabetes. Diabetes is either an illness that affects your pancreas, or a result of diet and lifestyle choices that anyone of any size can make.

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