Diabetes & Related Conditions – Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that affects the way the body turns sugar into energy. There are several types of diabetes, with the most common types being type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin properly. Sugar stays in your blood. Then the cells don’t get enough sugar for fuel. The body doesn’t have enough energy to do its work. Over time, the high level of sugar in the blood can damage the body.

What are the symptoms of diabetes
Symptoms include: extreme tiredness, increased thirst, weight loss, blurry vision, passing water (urinating) often, cuts or sores that don’t heal well. A person with type 2 diabetes may have some of these symptoms. However very often people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms at all.

How do you know if you have diabetes?
Blood glucose tests are the main way to learn if you have diabetes. The tests measure the number of milligrams (mg) of sugar in a deciliter (dl) of blood. After a person has fasted, the normal sugar level is 70 to 99 milligrams in a deciliter of blood. After a person eats, normally blood glucose may go higher, but rarely over 200. The American Diabetes Association lists ways to tell if a person has diabetes:

  • A person has symptoms of diabetes and a high blood glucose level (200) or higher on a blood glucose test.
  • A person has a fasting blood glucose level of 126 or higher on two separate dates. For a fasting blood glucose test, the person does not eat or drink for at least 8 hours before blood is taken.
  • A person has a blood glucose level of 200 or higher after drinking a special sugar solution. This test is called an oral glucose tolerance test. Again, the person needs to fast for 8 hours before the test.
  • A person has a Glycohemoglobin A1c of 6.5% or higher. Fasting is not necessary for this test.

What are the types of diabetes?

Three types of diabetes are most common.

  • Type 1
    • In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not make insulin. Sugar is unable to get into the cells. So the sugar level in the blood goes up. When the sugar level rises above normal, a person has high blood glucose. The name for high blood glucose is hyperglycemia (HI-per-glice-EE-mee-uh). Type 1 is the most common type of diabetes in children and young adults. People with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin.
  • Type 2
    • In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas still makes some insulin, but the insulin doesn’t work right, and the cells can’t take in the sugar. The sugar level in the blood goes up. A person then has high blood glucose, or hyperglycemia. Type 2 diabetes is often diagnosed in people over age 45, but is also found in younger people and even adolescents. Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for about 90-95% of people with diabetes.Both Type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to early heart disease as well as problems with the eyes, kidneys and nerves.
  • Gestational
    • In gestational diabetes the body does not make enough insulin or is unable to use all of the insulin needed during pregnancy. Without insulin, glucose (sugar) from the food you eat cannot enter cells and glucose builds up in the blood. The excess sugar in the blood can cross the placenta and cause problems for the baby. By definition, this condition occurs in women with no history of diabetes. While blood sugars usually return to normal after pregnancy, women who have had gestational diabetes are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. For more information speak with your Ob/Gyn.

If you have diabetes
If you have diabetes, you should try to get and keep your blood glucose level as close to normal as possible. It’s good to have a blood glucose level between 90 and 130 during the day before eating. At bedtime, the goal is to have blood glucose at 110 to 150. Ask your doctor what your personal goal should be.

If you are at risk for diabetes
Sometimes a person has blood glucose higher than normal, but not high enough to have diabetes. This condition is called impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance, also referred to as pre–diabetes. The person does not yet have diabetes, but is at risk for getting diabetes. If you have this condition, ask your doctor what to do about your blood glucose.