Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Complications
One out of every three people with diabetes is unaware they have this chronic condition. The American Diabetes Association estimates that amounts to 8 million Americans. Are you one of them?
With type 1 diabetes the pancreas abruptly stops producing insulin. Insulin is the hormone your body uses to use the energy—glucose—found in food. The primary risk factor for type 1 diabetes is family history.
Symptoms of diabetes can be subtle and many of the symptoms can seem harmless. You could have diabetes for months or even years and not have any symptoms at all. The American Diabetes Association estimates that more than 6 million people in the United States alone are unaware they have the disease.
Understanding possible risks and symptoms can lead to early diagnosis and treatment—and a lifetime of better health! If you or someone you love have one or more of these symptoms see your doctor and ask to get tested.
-High levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood pull fluid from your tissues, including the lenses of your eyes, affecting your ability to focus. Left untreated, diabetes can cause serious damage to the eyes which can lead to vision loss and blindness.
-These are classic diabetes symptoms. When you have diabetes, excessive sugar (glucose) builds up in your blood. Your kidneys work overtime to filter and absorb the excess sugar. The sugar is excreted into you urine along with fluids drawn from your tissues. This triggers more frequent urination, which can leave you dehydrated. As you drink more fluids to quench your thirst, you’ll urinate even more.
-With diabetes, your body cannot move the sugar into your cells to be used as energy. This leads to hunger.
-You may feel fatigued or even irritable. Many factors contribute to this including dehydrations from increased urination and your body’s inability to use sugar for energy.
-Diabetes keeps the sugar (glucose) in the food you eat from reaching your cells. The excess sugar is eventually excreted in your urine.
-High levels of blood sugar may impair your body's natural healing process and your ability to fight infections.
-High levels of blood sugar may impair your body's natural healing process and your ability to fight infections. For women vaginal and bladder infections are especially common.
-Excess sugar in your blood can lead to nerve damage. You may notice tingling and loss of sensation in your hands and feet, as well as burning pain in your arms, hands, legs and feet.
Keep in mind that like many people with type 2 diabetes you may have symptoms.
Your doctor can test your blood to see if you have diabetes. There are several tests that measure the amount of glucose in your blood including:
—this is the simplest and fastest way to measure blood glucose and diagnose diabetes. Your doctor will ask you to fast (having nothing to eat or drink except water) for 8-12 hours before the test. Blood is drawn and the level of glucose in the blood is measured.
—this test measures how your body responds to a set amount of glucose (sugar) in beverage form. The level of glucose in your blood is measured after fasting for 8-12 hours and after drinking a sweet beverage containing 75 grams of glucose. Your blood is tested 1, 2 and possibly three hours later. A urine test may also be done with each blood test.
The Fasting Plasma Glucose test is the preferred test for diagnosing diabetes because of its convenience and low cost. However, it will miss some diabetes or pre-diabetes that can be found with the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test. The Fasting Plasma Glucose test is most reliable when done in the morning.
Living well with diabetes requires both good medical care and effective self-management. The key is knowing and controlling your blood sugar levels. There is a lot that health care providers can do but you must take an active role in managing in managing your diabetes.
Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to many serious health conditions affecting nearly every organ in your body. Complications include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, complicated pregnancy, sexual dysfunction, nerve diseases, and amputation. If you don’t take the time for diabetes now, diabetes will make you take the time later. Work with your doctor and other members of your health care team to decrease your risk for these complications.