Diabetes mellitus, or simply diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced. There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational. While there are different types of diabetes, all types have a commonality - normally, the body breaks down sugars and carbohydrates into a sugar known as glucose, which fuels the cells in the body. But in order to do so, the cells need a hormone known as insulin to turn glucose into energy. For individuals with diabetes, their body does not make enough insulin, can not use the insulin it does produce, or a combination of both.
When the cells can not take in the glucose, it builds up within the bloodstream. High levels of glucose in the blood can damage tiny blood vessels in the kidney, heart, eyes and nervous system, eventually causing heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and nerve damage. That’s why it is so important to be proactive about your health if you have diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile-onset diabetes (if it begins in childhood), is an autoimmune condition caused by the body attacking its own pancreas with antibodies. Type 1 diabetes is often caused by a genetic predisposition, but can also be the result of faulty beta cells within the pancreas.
There are numerous medical risks associated with type 1 diabetes, many of which stem from damage to blood vessels within the eyes, nerves, and kidneys. Individuals with type 1 diabetes also have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Type 1 diabetes is treated by supplementing insulin, which is injected through the skin and into the fatty tissue below. Insulin is injected by either a syringe, insulin pen, jet injector and insulin pump.
What is type 2 diabetes ?
The most common type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes, accounting for around 95 percent of all cases. With type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produces minimal insulin, but either does not produce enough or the body’s cells are resistant to it.
What are the medical risks associated with type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is milder than type 1 diabetes but still poses major health complications, particularly with the small blood vessels within the kidneys, nerves and eyes. Individuals with type 2 diabetes also have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
How is type 2 diabetes treated ?
There is no cure for type 2 diabetes, but it can be controlled with weight management, nutrition and exercise. Medications are also used if the condition progresses.
Gestational diabetes is triggered by pregnancy and is often diagnosed mid to late pregnancy. Between 2 percent and 10 percent of pregnant women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
High blood sugar levels in an expectant mother are circulated through the placenta to the baby, but gestational diabetes can cause complications. Gestational diabetes generally poses a greater risk to the fetus than the mother and include abnormal weight gain before birth, breathing issues, and an increased risk of developing obesity and diabetes. Because the fetus can grow at a rapid rate while in utero, the mother is at risk for needing a cesarean section.
If an expectant mother develops gestational diabetes, she will work closely with her team to control the condition. Treatment includes careful meal planning, proper nutrition, daily exercise, and if necessary, taking insulin to control blood sugar levels.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes often appear suddenly, prompting doctors to check the patient’s blood sugar levels. Other types of diabetes typically exhibit symptoms slower, which can make diagnosing the disease difficult.
There are numerous tests that your doctor may perform to diagnose type 1, type 2 and prediabetes, including :
Fasting blood sugar test
Following an overnight fast, a blood sample will be taken. A fasting blood sugar level of 100 to 125 mg/dL is considered prediabetes and a level of 126 mg/dL or higher is considered diabetes.
Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test
The is a blood test that indicates your average blood sugar level over the last two to three months. Measuring the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells), the higher your blood sugar levels are, the more hemoglobin you will have attached. An AC1 levels of 6.5 percent or higher is an indication of diabetes.
Random blood sugar test
During this test, a sample of your blood will be taken at random, regardless of when you last ate. If your blood sugar levels are 11.1 millimoles per liter or higher, it is an indication of diabetes.
Oral glucose tolerance test
For this test, the patient fasts overnight and the fasting blood sugar is measured. The patient drinks a sugary liquid and their blood sugar level is then tested periodically over the next two hours. A reading between 140 and 199 mg/dL indicates prediabetes and a reading of more than 200 mg/dL after two hours indicates diabetes.
If you are pregnant and not already diagnosed with diabetes, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends that you are tested for gestational diabetes after the 24th week of pregnancy. There are different ways women are tested for gestational diabetes, including a random blood sugar testing and an oral glucose tolerance test.
At All Care, we understand the complexities of diabetes. We also understand the impact diabetes can have on your life. That’s why we strive to provide the best in diabetes care for every patient. We have the experience and resources necessary to help you live your healthiest life. Call today at to learn more about our services, or to schedule your appointment online.
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