January is almost over and therefore, most of us have already broken our New Year's resolutions. For some of us that may have been to eat better and get more exercise. Most people come away from the holiday season with a few extra pounds we vow to lose but could your eating habits be leading to something more serious? Could you have diabetes and how do you know?
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disorder of the endocrine system which disrupts the way your body uses glucose (sugar). There are two main types of diabetes, juvenile onset (Type I) and adult onset (Type II). This article will focus on adult onset diabetes. All of the cells in your body rely on sugar to carry out their functions and the body needs insulin to get the sugar into the cells. Insulin is produced primarily in the pancreas but also somewhat in the stomach. In someone with diabetes, there is either not enough insulin or the body stops responding to insulin and sugar can't get into the cells. When this occurs, the amount of glucose in the blood raises which causes problems with other functions in the body and is known as diabetes.
What are symptoms of diabetes?
Initially, elevated blood sugars are often not characterized by symptoms and it often goes unnoticed. A majority of cases of adult onset diabetes are diagnosed by routine screening lab work. Some symptoms that may be an indication of diabetes are increased thirst, increased frequency of urination and blurred vision. Also, people with out of control diabetes may have an unintended weight loss. Some people also complain of just not feeling well, or somewhat sluggish.
How do you test for it and who should be tested?
Diabetes is diagnosed by checking a blood sugar. This can be done either randomly (any time during the day), post prandial (2 hours after a normal meal) or fasting (after 8 to 12 hours of no food or drink). There are different threshold blood sugar levels for each type of test and if those values are elevated, you may be asked to do a hemoglobin A1C test. This is a blood test which tells your average blood sugar over the past 90 days and it is a good indicator to how your diabetes is managed. Anyone with symptoms or a family history of diabetes should have one of these blood tests done to assess for diabetes. Also, it is recommended to get screening labs done at least every other year after age 50 to asses for diabetes among other things.
The diagnosis and treatment plans for diabetes are complex and are treated on a case-by-case basis. It is never too late to start making healthy choices to decrease your risk of diabetes such as a healthy diet, exercise, and weight loss. If you feel you may be at risk for this disease, make an appointment with your medical provider today.