Diabetes is characterized by an excess of blood glucose, otherwise known as blood sugar. The three common types of diabetes are: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes. These conditions can cause a variety of symptoms, the most common early signs can include: fatigue, increased frequency of urination (especially at night), unexplained weight loss, blurry vision and increased hunger and thirst.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes, if left untreated, can create long-term complications, including vision changes and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Gestational diabetes can cause complications during pregnancy and delivery. At Griffin, coordinated care between a multidisciplinary team can help people successfully manage their diabetes and live a healthy life, have a healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. Furthermore, the symptoms and risk of complications can be reduced for all types of diabetes with a strict medically managed program.
Types of Diabetes
- Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops or nearly stops producing insulin. Type 1 diabetes has also been referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes and juvenile diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to make effective use of insulin. This is often referred to as insulin resistance. Often, weight and diet management can reverse pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome and can prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is treated with medication, diet and lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and exercise.
- Gestational Diabetes occurs when someone develops high blood sugar during pregnancy but has not been previously diagnosed with diabetes. This condition can predispose your baby to growth and developmental issues and can complicate pregnancy and delivery.
Symptoms of Diabetes
If you experience any of the following symptoms you should seek medical attention as they are commonly associated with diabetes or another metabolic problem: urinary frequency, increased thirst, episodes of lightheadedness or unexplained weight changes.
Testing for Diabetes
There are several ways to diagnose diabetes and testing should be done at your doctor’s office or in a lab to help identify your risk factors. If your doctor determines that your blood sugar level is very high, or if you have classic symptoms of high blood sugar in addition to one positive test, your doctor may not require a second test to diagnose diabetes.
A1C - The A1C test measures your average blood sugar for the past two to three months and diabetes is diagnosed at an A1C of greater than or equal to 6.5%. The advantage of being diagnosed this way is that you don’t have to fast or drink anything specific.
Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) - The FPG blood test measures your blood glucose level at a single point in time. This test is usually done first thing in the morning before breakfast. For fasting tests you cannot eat or drink anything (except water) for at least eight hours before the test. Diabetes is diagnosed at fasting blood sugar of greater than or equal to 126 mg/dl.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) - The OGTT is a two-hour test that checks your blood sugar levels before and two-hours after you drink a small cup of very sweet liquid that contains 50, 75, or 100 grams of glucose. This test tells the doctor how your body processes sugar. Diabetes is diagnosed at two-hour blood sugar greater than or equal to 200 mg/dl.
Insulin and Diabetes
All types of diabetes involve the body’s ability to metabolize glucose and insulin being altered. Glucose, the body’s main energy source, is a component of carbohydrates. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and helps the body store and use glucose. Type 1 diabetes is when there is not enough insulin. Type 2 and gestational diabetes, is when the body doesn't respond to insulin as it should, the blood glucose levels rise.
Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have prediabetes. Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Doctors sometimes refer to prediabetes as Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) or Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG), depending on which test detected the condition. This condition puts you at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
There are ways to control or even prevent a pre-diabetic condition from advancing. Here are some quick tips to follow that will help you change what you can:
- Cut sugar and refined carbs from your diet
- Work out regularly
- Lose weight
- Quit smoking
- Control portion sizes
- Eat a high-fiber diet
For more information about diabetes and testing, call Griffin Faculty Physicians at (800) 382-0903.