Diabetes is a chronic condition in which abnormally high levels of glucose is found in the blood. When the pancreas is functioning properly it will create a hormone that neutralizes sugars found in the blood. When the pancreas stops working correctly, as is the case with diabetes, high blood sugar can occur, which causes a variety of health issues. The normal level of blood sugar is 3.9 to 7.1 mmol/L (also known as 70 to 130 mg/dL). Over 9% of the population in the United States have diabetes. Many people have diabetes or prediabetes and do not know it. There are two main types of diabetes including Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes often occurs when a person is a child and is influenced by a person's genetics. Type 2 diabetes happens later for a person. Usually later in full adulthood. Type 2 diabetes is often easier to control than Type 1 diabetes, often through exercise and diet changes. Gestational diabetes may occur in some women during the later stages of their pregnancy. This occurs when the pancreas does not create enough hormones for the baby and the mother to neutralize blood sugars. Although diabetes does not have a cure, there are ways to manage the disease. Keep reading to find out more about diabetes.
Many people who have diabetes do not know that they do. Some people may have severe symptoms and others may not. A few of the most common symptoms associated with diabetes include:
- Weight loss
- Skin problems
- Blurred vision
- Excessive thirst
- Yeast infections
- Wounds that are slow to heal
- Numbness in feet
- Increased urine output
Getting a Diagnosis
Diabetes is diagnosed through symptoms, risk factors, and testing. A few of the most common tests used to diagnose diabetes include:
- Glycated hemoglobin test (A1C)
- This blood test does not require the patient to fast first. It will indicate the average blood sugar level for the past couple of months. An A1C level that measures 6.5% or higher during two different tests will indicate diabetes. If the A1C level is between 5.7-6.4% prediabetes is indicated.
- Random blood sugar test
- A blood sample is taken despite what and when the person has last eaten to measure blood sugar levels.
- Fasting blood sugar test
- After fasting overnight, a blood sample is taken. If the test shows a blood sugar level of 126mg/dL or higher on two different tests it indicates diabetes.
- Oral glucose test
- First, after fasting overnight, the fasting blood sugar level is measured. Then the patient will drink a sugary liquid and blood sugars are tested a few times over the next few hours. A blood sugar reading over 200mg/dL indicated diabetes.
The doctor may also run other tests including testing the urine to look for other diabetes risk factors.
Diabetes does not have a cure, but there are many ways that the disease can be managed. A few of the most common treatment options for those with diabetes include:
- Monitoring blood sugar
- Most people with diabetes will need to check and record their blood sugar to learn how to manage them and monitor for changes.
- Healthy eating
- Eating a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and vegetables can help to manage symptoms. It is also important to limit saturated fats, sugars, and refined carbohydrates.
- Physical activity
- Regular exercise can make a big difference because it lowers blood sugars by using it for energy. There are many different physical activities that can be done to help lower blood sugar including walking, biking and running.
- Oral and injected medications may be prescribed to people with diabetes to help stimulate the pancreas to create more of the hormone that neutralizes blood sugar.
- Some people who have type 1 diabetes may require a pancreas transplant. A transplant is usually reserved for those in which other treatments have not worked or cannot control their diabetes.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes it is imperative that you work closely alongside your healthcare provider to effectively manage your diabetes. You can also make positive lifestyle changes including eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly to help manage your symptoms.
The articles on this website should not be used to start the use of dietary supplements or vitamins, natural or herbal products, homeopathic medicine or other mentioned products prior to a proper consultation with a doctor or certified health provider.