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DIABETES: SYMPTOMS, CAUSES, TREATMENTS, DIAGNOSIS AND MORE

By MyHealth MyPride

Reviewed: March, 2023

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Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar levels, which can lead to serious health complications. Although it is a common disease, many people still don’t understand its impact on their lives. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatments of diabetes, as well as some tips for managing the disease.

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What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels, which are essential for the proper functioning of the body’s cells. Without insulin, blood sugar levels can become dangerously high, causing a range of health problems.

Types of Diabetes:

There are basically 3 main types of diabetes:

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1. Type 1 Diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that usually develops in childhood or adolescence.

In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.

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Learn more on the Causes, Diagnosis, Prevention and Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes

2. Type 2 diabetes:

Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, usually develops in adulthood and is the result of a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors.

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In type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin, and the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to compensate.

Learn more about Causes, Diagnosis, Prevention and Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes

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3. Gestational Diabetes:

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy, typically in the second or third trimester. It affects approximately 9.2% of pregnancies, and it occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels properly.

Learn more about Causes, Diagnosis, Prevention and Treatment for Gestational Diabetes

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Symptoms of Diabetes

The symptoms of diabetes can vary depending on the type of diabetes and the severity of the disease. Some common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Recurrent infections

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

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Complications and Risk Factors of Diabetes:

Most common complications of diabetes include:

  •  Nerve damage, also known as diabetic neuropathy: This occurs because high blood sugar levels can damage the nerves that control sensation in the feet and legs, leading to numbness, tingling, and pain. Over time, nerve damage can also affect other parts of the body, including the digestive system, heart, and eyes.
  • kidney disease: also known as diabetic nephropathy. This occurs because high blood sugar levels can damage the small blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to decreased kidney function and an increased risk of kidney failure. Early detection and treatment of kidney disease can help prevent further damage and complications.
  • Heart disease is also a common complication of diabetes. People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing heart disease, as high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Managing blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels can help reduce the risk of heart disease and other complications.
  • Eye problems, including diabetic retinopathy. This occurs because high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the retina, leading to vision loss and blindness. Regular eye exams and blood sugar control can help prevent and manage diabetic retinopathy.
  • Foot problems are also common complications of diabetes, including infections, ulcers, and amputations. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and nerves in the feet, making it difficult to feel pain or notice injuries. Regular foot exams and proper foot care can help prevent foot problems and complications.

How Diabetes are Diagnosed

If left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health complications. However, there are several tests that can help diagnose and monitor diabetes, allowing people with this condition to receive proper treatment and prevent complications. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the top tests for diabetes:

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  • Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) Test: This is one of the most common tests used to diagnose diabetes. It measures blood sugar levels after a person has fasted for at least eight hours. A blood sugar level of 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher on two separate occasions indicates that a person has diabetes.
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): This test measures blood sugar levels after a person has fasted for at least eight hours and then drinks a sugary drink. Two hours after drinking the sugary drink, a blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher on two separate occasions indicates that a person has diabetes.
  • Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) Test: This test measures the average blood sugar level over the past two to three months. A result of 6.5% or higher on two separate occasions indicates that a person has diabetes.
  • Random Plasma Glucose (RPG) Test: This test measures blood sugar levels at any time of the day, regardless of when a person last ate. A blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher on two separate occasions indicates that a person has diabetes.
  • Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM): This test involves wearing a small device that measures blood sugar levels continuously throughout the day. CGM can provide more detailed information about blood sugar levels than other tests and can help people with diabetes monitor their blood sugar levels and adjust their treatment accordingly.
  • Urine Tests: These tests can help detect the presence of ketones, which are produced when the body breaks down fat for energy. High levels of ketones in the urine can indicate that a person’s diabetes is not well-controlled.
  • Insulin Tests: These tests measure the amount of insulin in a person’s blood. Low levels of insulin can indicate that a person has type 1 diabetes, while high levels of insulin can indicate that a person has type 2 diabetes.
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Top 4 Tests For Diabetes

Among the above listed tests for the diagnosis of Diabetes below are the top 4 most effective

  1. Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) Test
  2. Random Plasma Glucose (RPG) Test
  3. Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) Test
  4. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)
Each type of blood sugar test has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, the fasting plasma glucose test is convenient and widely available, but it can be affected by factors such as stress, illness, and medication.
The hemoglobin A1C test provides a longer-term picture of blood sugar control, but it may not be as accurate in individuals with certain medical conditions.

Best Test to Diagnose Diabetes:

The Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) test is widely considered the best test for diagnosing diabetes. This test measures the average blood sugar level over the past two to three months, giving healthcare professionals a comprehensive picture of a person’s blood sugar control. The HbA1C test is particularly useful because it does not require fasting, making it more convenient for patients.
The American Diabetes Association recommends an HbA1C level of less than 5.7% for people without diabetes, while an HbA1C level of 6.5% or higher on two separate occasions indicates that a person has diabetes. An HbA1C level between 5.7% and 6.4% may indicate that a person has prediabetes.
The HbA1C test is also useful for monitoring diabetes over time. If a person with diabetes has an HbA1C level of less than 7%, it indicates good blood sugar control and a lower risk of complications. However, if a person with diabetes has an HbA1C level above 7%, it may indicate that their diabetes is not well-controlled and that they are at higher risk for complications.
Other tests for diabetes include the Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) test, the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT), the Random Plasma Glucose (RPG) test, and Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM). However, the HbA1C test is widely considered the best test for diagnosing and monitoring diabetes.

Criteria for diagnosis of Diabetes:

The criteria for diagnosing diabetes include blood sugar tests such as
  • The FPG test,
  • The OGTT test, and
  • The HbA1c test,
As well as a person’s symptoms, medical history, and risk factors. By diagnosing diabetes early on, people with this condition can receive proper treatment and prevent complications.
If you think you may have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes, it is important to talk to your healthcare professional and get tested.

Treatment for Diabetes

The treatment for diabetes depends on the type and severity of the disease.

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1. Treatments for Type 1 diabetes:

The main treatment for type 1 diabetes is insulin therapy, which involves injecting insulin into the body to replace the insulin that the pancreas is no longer able to produce.

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There are several types of insulin available, including rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting insulin.

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Other treatment options for Type 1 diabetes may include:

  • Blood glucose monitoring: Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels can help people with type 1 diabetes adjust their insulin doses and maintain stable blood glucose levels.
  • Healthy eating: Following a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help people with type 1 diabetes manage their blood glucose levels.
  • Physical activity: Regular exercise can help people with type 1 diabetes control their blood glucose levels and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Pancreas or islet cell transplantation: In some cases, a pancreas or islet cell transplant may be considered for people with type 1 diabetes who are experiencing severe complications and are not responding well to other treatments.

2. Treatments for Type 2  diabetes:

Type 2 diabetes can often be managed with lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating and regular exercise, as well as medication, such as oral diabetes medications or insulin injections.

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Some medications for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Metformin: This medication helps lower blood sugar levels by reducing the amount of glucose produced by the liver and increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
  • Sulfonylureas: These medications help stimulate the production of insulin by the pancreas.
  • DPP-4 inhibitors: These medications help regulate blood sugar levels by increasing the production of a hormone called GLP-1, which helps the body produce insulin.
  • GLP-1 receptor agonists: These medications help regulate blood sugar levels by stimulating the production of insulin and slowing down the absorption of glucose in the intestine.

3. Treatments for Gestational diabetes:

The treatment for gestational diabetes typically involves lifestyle modifications such as healthy eating and exercise, but in some cases, medication may be necessary to control blood sugar levels.

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Here are some of the medications that may be prescribed for women with gestational diabetes:

  • Insulin: Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels by allowing glucose to enter cells for energy. Women with gestational diabetes may need to take insulin injections to help their body process glucose properly. Insulin injections are safe for both the mother and the baby.
  • Metformin: Metformin is an oral medication that is commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes. It works by reducing glucose production in the liver and improving insulin sensitivity. In some cases, metformin may be prescribed to women with gestational diabetes who cannot control their blood sugar levels with diet and exercise alone.
  • Glyburide: Glyburide is an oral medication that stimulates the pancreas to produce more insulin. It is commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, but it may also be prescribed to women with gestational diabetes who cannot control their blood sugar levels with diet and exercise alone.

In addition to medical treatment, people with diabetes also need to take an active role in managing their disease. This may include:

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  • Monitoring their blood sugar levels regularly
  • Making healthy food choices
  • Exercising regularly
  • Working with their healthcare provider to adjust their treatment plan as needed.

How to Manage Diabetes and Reduce complications

If you have diabetes, there are many things you can do to manage your disease and reduce your risk of complications. Here are some tips for managing diabetes:

  • Make healthy food choices: Choose foods that are low in sugar and fat and high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise can help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
  • Monitor your blood sugar: Regularly checking your blood sugar levels can help you adjust your treatment plan and prevent complications.
  • Take medication as prescribed: If you are taking medication for diabetes, it is important to take it as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • Work with your healthcare provider: Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help you stay on track with your diabetes management plan.

How to test for Diabetes at home:

There are several ways to test for diabetes at home. The most common method is to use a blood glucose meter. This device measures the amount of glucose in a small drop of blood, typically obtained by pricking the finger with a lancet. Blood glucose meters are easy to use, and most models have clear instructions that make testing simple.

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To test for diabetes using a blood glucose meter, follow these steps:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water.
  • Insert a test strip into the meter according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Prick your finger with a lancet and place a small drop of blood on the test strip
  • Wait for the meter to display your blood glucose level.
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  • Record your blood glucose level in a diary or logbook.

Another way to test for diabetes at home is to use a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system.

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A CGM system uses a small sensor that is inserted under the skin to measure glucose levels in real-time. The sensor transmits data to a receiver or smartphone app, allowing users to track their glucose levels throughout the day.

To use a CGM system, follow these steps:

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  • Insert the sensor under the skin according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Pair the sensor with the receiver or smartphone app.
  • Check the glucose readings throughout the day.
  • Record your glucose levels in a diary or logbook.

It is important to note that home testing for diabetes is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you suspect that you may have diabetes or are at risk for the condition, it is important to talk to your healthcare professional and get tested.

A healthcare professional can provide a comprehensive evaluation of your health, including blood tests and other diagnostic tests, and work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan.

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Testing for diabetes at home can be a convenient and effective way to monitor blood sugar levels. Using a blood glucose meter or CGM system can provide valuable information for people who are at risk for or have diabetes.

However, it is important to remember that home testing is not a substitute for professional medical care, and it is essential to work with a healthcare professional to manage the condition properly.

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Normal blood sugar levels:

Blood sugar levels are a critical component of overall health, and understanding what constitutes normal blood sugar levels is important for anyone who wants to maintain optimal health. Blood sugar levels can be influenced by a variety of factors, including diet, exercise, stress, and medication.

In this article, we’ll explore what normal blood sugar levels are and why they matter.

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Normal blood sugar levels are typically defined as the range of glucose levels that are considered healthy and safe for the body.

Blood sugar levels can be measured using a blood glucose meter, which uses a small sample of blood to measure the concentration of glucose in the blood.

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For most people, normal blood sugar levels fall within the following ranges:

  • Fasting blood sugar level: 70 to 99 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter)
  • After-meal blood sugar level: 140 mg/dL or lower

It is important to note that these ranges can vary depending on a person’s age, gender, weight, and other factors.

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Additionally, people with diabetes may have different target ranges for blood sugar levels depending on their individual treatment plan.

Maintaining normal blood sugar levels is essential for overall health.

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High blood sugar levels can lead to a variety of health complications, including nerve damage, kidney damage, and cardiovascular disease.

Conversely, low blood sugar levels can lead to symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, and even loss of consciousness.

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Several lifestyle factors can help maintain normal blood sugar levels, including a healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress management techniques.

It is also important for people with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar levels regularly and work with their healthcare provider to manage the condition effectively.

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Normal blood Sugar level Chart

Understanding normal blood sugar levels is crucial for maintaining good health. Normal blood sugar levels typically fall within a specific range, and maintaining these levels through healthy lifestyle choices and medical management is essential for overall well-being.

If you are concerned about your blood sugar levels or have a history of diabetes in your family, talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested and developing a plan for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.

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Bottom Line

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide. It is important to understand the causes, symptoms, and treatments of diabetes, as well as some tips for managing the disease. By making healthy lifestyle choices and working with your healthcare provider, you can reduce your risk of complications and lead a healthy, active life with diabetes. Remember, diabetes may be a silent killer, but with the right management and care, it doesn’t have to be a death sentence. If you have any concerns about your risk of developing diabetes or are experiencing any symptoms, don’t hesitate to talk to your healthcare provider.

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In addition to proper management and care, it is also important to raise awareness about diabetes and its impact on individuals and society. This includes advocating for increased access to diabetes education and resources, as well as promoting policies that support diabetes prevention and management. By working together, we can make a difference in the lives of those living with diabetes and ultimately help to reduce the burden of this disease.

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Check out:

Type1 Diabetes

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Diagnosis and Tests for Diabetes

Foods Diabetic patients should avoid

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Home remedies for Diabetics

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