Tests For Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed using blood tests. Youll probably be tested between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. If your risk is higher for getting gestational diabetes , your doctor may test you earlier. Blood sugar thats higher than normal early in your pregnancy may indicate you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes rather than gestational diabetes.
When It Becomes An Emergency:
Theres a complication of type 1 diabetes called diabetic ketoacidosis , which results from very high blood sugar and is serious and life-threatening. With DKA, the cells in the body are starved for energy, so they start breaking down fat, producing toxic acids known as ketones. So if you or someone you love experiences these symptoms on top of diabetes symptoms, its time to go to the ER:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tingling or numbness of the lips, tongue or cheek
Importance Of Early Diagnosis
Recognizing the early signs of type 2 diabetes can allow a person to get a diagnosis and treatment sooner.
Getting appropriate treatment, making lifestyle changes, and controlling blood sugar levels can greatly improve a persons health and quality of life and of complications.
Without treatment, persistently high blood sugar levels can lead to severe and sometimes life threatening complications, including:
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Complications Of Type 2 Diabetes
Itâs important to get your blood sugar under control to avoid these serious conditions:
- Hypoglycemia. If your blood sugar falls below 70 milligrams per deciliter , it can lead to accidents, coma, and death.
- Hyperglycemia. Blood sugar that goes above 180 to 200 mg/dL can give you heart, nerve, kidney, and vision problems. Over the long term, it also can cause coma and death.
Over time, people with type 2 diabetes may have other health problems:
- Diabetic ketoacidosis. When you donât have enough insulin in your system, your blood sugar rises, and your body breaks down fat for energy. Toxic acids called ketones build up and spill into your urine. It can cause coma and death if you donât treat it.
- Heartand blood vessel diseases. People with diabetes are more likely to have conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which play a role in heart disease. Also, high blood sugar can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart.
- High blood pressure. Diabetes doubles your risk of high blood pressure, which makes you more likely to have heart disease or stroke.
- Nerve damage . This can cause tingling and numbness, most often in your feet and legs. But it can also affect your digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels, and heart.
- Eyedamage. Diabetes can cause:
- Glaucoma, a buildup of pressure in your eyes
- Cataracts, a cloudiness of your lens
- Retinopathy, which is damage to the blood vessels in your eyes
Early Signs Of Diabetes
Both types of diabetes have some of the same telltale warning signs.
- Hunger and fatigue. Your body converts the food you eat into glucose that your cells use for energy. But your cells need insulin to take in glucose. If your body doesn’t make enough or any insulin, or if your cells resist the insulin your body makes, the glucose can’t get into them and you have no energy. This can make you hungrier and more tired than usual.
- Peeing more often and being thirstier. The average person usually has to pee between four and seven times in 24 hours, but people with diabetes may go a lot more. Why? Normally, your body reabsorbs glucose as it passes through your kidneys. But when diabetes pushes your blood sugar up, your kidneys may not be able to bring it all back in. This causes the body to make more urine, and that takes fluids. The result: You’ll have to go more often. You might pee out more, too. Because you’re peeing so much, you can get very thirsty. When you drink more, you’ll also pee more.
- Dry mouth and itchy skin. Because your body is using fluids to make pee, there’s less moisture for other things. You could get dehydrated, and your mouth may feel dry. Dry skin can make you itchy.
- Blurred vision. Changing fluid levels in your body could make the lenses in your eyes swell up. They change shape and canÃ¢â¬â¢t focus.
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Managing Blood Pressure And Cholesterol
Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol within the recommended range is very important to help prevent long-term problems, especially to your heart, blood vessels, kidneys and eyes.
Regular diabetes checks of your eyes, feet , heart, blood pressure, kidneys and long-term blood glucose are an important part of diabetes management. Your doctor and diabetes educator will help you arrange these tests.
Itching And Yeast Infections
Excess sugar in the blood and urine provides food for yeast, which can lead to infection. Yeast infections tend to occur on warm, moist areas of the skin, such as the mouth, genital areas, and armpits.
The affected areas are usually itchy, but a person may also experience burning, skin discoloration, and soreness.
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You Feel Tiredness And Fatigue Constantly
Fatigue and extreme tiredness are symptoms of uncontrolled blood sugar, the ADA says. Simply put, when your body is not processing insulin properly or it doesnt have sufficient amounts of insulin, the sugar is staying in our blood rather than getting into our cells to be used for energy, Zanini says. Also, frequent urination can lead to dehydration, which Bandukwala identifies as another contributing factor to fatigue.
How To Treat Type 2 Diabetes:
Unlike type 1, people with type 2 diabetes often do not need to take insulin, because their bodies still produce a small amount of it. Though there are medications like Metformin available to assist in lowering blood sugar, the primary ways to treat type 2 diabetes are:
- A balanced diet. Eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins while avoiding more than the occasional high-fat, high-sugar food is the first and most essential step to treating type 2 diabetes.
- Exercise. Staying active is also very important. There are so many ways to get exercise. Try different activities to find a type of exercise you enjoy and work it into your weekly routine.
- Weight loss. Of course, if you work toward eating healthier and exercising, this may be a byproduct. Losing weight is less about the number on the scale and more about taking care of your body and reducing the strain on your pancreas.
- Blood glucose monitoring. Checking your blood sugar regularly will become a part of your daily routine. Its important to stay up-to-date on how your levels are doing throughout the day and adjust your food and activities accordingly. After a while youll figure out the regimen and balance that works best for you.
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What Happens When You Have Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes
If you have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it means you have too much glucose in your blood. This is the same for both types. But the difference between them is how this happens.
If you have type 1 diabetes, it means you have an autoimmune condition. This means your body has attacked and destroyed the cells that make a hormone called insulin. So you cant make insulin anymore.
We all need insulin as it helps take the glucose from our blood into our bodys cells. We then use this glucose for energy. Without insulin, the glucose level in your blood gets too high.
Type 2 diabetes is different. If youve got type 2, either your body doesnt make enough insulin, or your insulin doesnt work properly. This is known as insulin resistance. Like type 1, this means the level of glucose in your blood is too high.
Symptoms Of Type 1 Diabetes
You might notice:
- Unplanned weight loss. If your body can’t get energy from your food, it will start burning muscle and fat for energy instead. You may lose weight even though you haven’t changed how you eat. See which foods are high in trans fatty acids.
- Nausea and vomiting. When your body resorts to burning fat, it makes ketones. These can build up in your blood to dangerous levels, a possibly life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketones can make you feel sick to your stomach.
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Being Overweight Or Obese
You’re more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you’re overweight or obese with a body mass index of 30 or more.
Fat around your tummy particularly increases your risk. This is because it releases chemicals that can upset the body’s cardiovascular and metabolic systems.
This increases your risk of developing a number of serious conditions, including coronary heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.
Measuring your waist is a quick way of assessing your diabetes risk. This is a measure of abdominal obesity, which is a particularly high-risk form of obesity.
Women have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes if their waist measures 80cm or more.
Asian men with a waist size of 89cm or more have a higher risk, as do white or black men with a waist size of 94cm or more.
Exercising regularly and reducing your body weight by about 5% could reduce your risk of getting diabetes by more than 50%.
Read about measuring your waist size
Foods And Beverages To Limit
If youve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, or even if youre trying to avoid diabetes and manage your weight, there are certain foods and beverages that you should limit if possible. These include:
While no one food, enjoyed every so often, should knock you off your healthy path, its a good idea to talk with your doctor about dietary restrictions based on your blood sugar levels. Some people may need to monitor their glucose more carefully than others after eating these foods.
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Financial Support And Benefits
Some people with diabetes may be eligible for disability and incapacity benefits, depending on the impact the condition has on their lives.
The main groups likely to qualify for welfare benefits are children, the elderly, and those with learning disabilities, mental health difficulties or diabetes complications.
People over the age of 65 who are severely disabled may qualify for a type of disability benefit called Attendance Allowance.
Carers may also be entitled to some benefits, depending on their involvement in caring for the person with diabetes.
Your local Citizens Advice can check whether you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to. Your diabetes specialist nurse and Citizens Advice can also provide advice about filling in the forms.
Youre Developing Blisters Dryness Or Other Skin Changes
Small pieces of extra skin, called skin tags, may form in the creases of skin, especially if you have diabetes and youre trying to find ways to manage your weight, notes the ADA. Dark, thick areas of soft skin may form on the back of the neck or hands, armpits, face, or other areas. These can be a sign of insulin resistance, Zanini says. Blisters, infections, dryness, itchiness, discolorations, and abnormalities of the skin can all be warning signs of high blood sugar. Check with your doctor if these skin changes develop.
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The Emotional Impact Of Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes
Living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can sometimes feel overwhelming.
Both types are different but feeling down or anxious because of your diabetes can affect anyone. It is important to understand that a long-term condition can come with an emotional impact, no matter how it has been caused or how you treat it.
If youre struggling with your diabetes, remember that youre not alone.
There is lots of support available to you, like our helpline. There you can speak to our highly trained advisors about how you’re feeling. And you can also speak to people who are going through similar experiences on our forum. There are lots of things you can do to help yourself and its just about finding what works for you.
It can be frustrating to explain the differences between type 1 and type 2.
Both types face confusion over what causes the condition and how it can be treated. This will be slightly different whether you’re type 1 or the more common type 2. Just because something is more common, doesn’t mean it is understood.
And while it is emotionally draining to constantly correct people, you should also know that you’re not alone. There are many people living with diabetes facing similar questions and struggles, regardless of type. You can reach out to them to give or receive support in the forum and at local groups.
Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Prevented
You can take steps to help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by losing weight if you are overweight, eating fewer calories, and being more physically active. If you have a condition which raises your risk for type 2 diabetes, managing that condition may lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
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Your Diabetes Healthcare Team
A lifelong condition like diabetes is best managed with the support of a diabetes healthcare team. You are the most important member of your diabetes team. Other members are:
Depending on your needs, the team may also include:
- an endocrinologist and other medical specialists such as a kidney specialist
Prediabetes Offers The Opportunity For Prevention
An estimated 96 million adults in the US have a condition called prediabetes, according to the CDC. However, they estimate that 80 percent of people with prediabetes are unaware that they have it, because it can have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all for a long period of time.
“Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes,” they explain. “Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.”
The potential causes of prediabetes vary. In addition to gestational diabetes, other contributing factors include being overweight, physical inactivity, and an unhealthy diet. “The good news is that prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes are largely preventable,” advises the Harvard Public School of Health. “About nine in ten cases in the U.S. can be avoided by making lifestyle changes.”
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How Can I Manage My Type 2 Diabetes
Managing your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol, and quitting smoking if you smoke, are important ways to manage your type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle changes that include planning healthy meals, limiting calories if you are overweight, and being physically active are also part of managing your diabetes. So is taking any prescribed medicines. Work with your health care team to create a diabetes care plan that works for you.
Random Blood Sugar Test
This measures your blood sugar at the time youre tested. You can take this test at any time and dont need to fast first. A blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes.
|140 mg/dL or below||N/A|
*Results for gestational diabetes can differ. Ask your health care provider what your results mean if youre being tested for gestational diabetes.Source: American Diabetes Association
If your doctor thinks you have type 1 diabetes, your blood may also tested for autoantibodies that are often present in type 1 diabetes but not in type 2 diabetes. You may have your urine tested for ketones , which also indicate type 1 diabetes instead of type 2 diabetes.
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Healthy Eating For Type 2 Diabetes
A dietitian or your doctor will be able to advise you on what to eat to meet your nutritional needs and control your blood sugar. Your doctor should be able to refer you to a registered dietitian for personalised advice.
Eating healthy foods with a low glycaemic index can help to optimise your blood sugar levels. This includes wholegrain breads, minimally processed breakfast cereals like rolled or steel cut oats, legumes, fruit, pasta and dairy products.
Avoid high-carbohydrate, low-nutrient foods such as cakes, lollies and soft drinks, and eat a diet low in saturated fat.
You should eat at regular times of the day and may also need snacks. Try to match the amount of food you eat with the amount of activity you do, so that you dont put on weight.
If you are overweight or obese, losing even 5-10 per cent of your body weight can significantly improve blood sugar control.
Who Should Be Tested For Type 2 Diabetes
Most often, people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes through routine screening tests. Routine screening means that you are tested because you may be at risk of having diabetes, even when you dont have any signs or symptoms.
Routine screening for diabetes typically starts at age 45. You should be screened sooner if you have:
- high blood pressure
- acanthosis negricans, a skin condition
- a family history of type 2 diabetes
- a history of gestational diabetes or youve given birth to a baby weighing over 9 pounds
- Black, Latino/Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Alaska Native, or Pacific Islander descent
- a low level of HDL cholesterol or a high triglyceride level
- a sedentary lifestyle
Routine screening uses blood tests to check for signs of diabetes.
Next, lets take a closer look at some blood tests commonly used to diagnose diabetes.
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