Skye likes writing about mental health, nutrition, and wellness. She is passionate about sharing information that will educate, and positively affect people's lives.
Leann Poston, M.D.
Leann Poston, M.D. earned her medical degree from the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. She completed an MBA from Raj Soin College of Business, focusing on healthcare. She is a full-time medical communication writer and educator.
February 4, 2021
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body processes blood sugar and causes your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels to be too high. The CDC estimates that in 2018, 34.2 million people had diabetes, that’s 10.5% of the US population. People at risk of diabetes should not wait for symptoms before they get tested, as early intervention and treatment are critical.
Read on to learn who is at risk of diabetes, how diabetes is diagnosed, and diabetes treatment options.
The following sets of people are considered to be at a high risk of diabetes.
Prediabetes means having blood sugars higher than average but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with this condition may have some of the symptoms of diabetes.
Not all people with prediabetes will eventually develop diabetes.
This condition can be corrected or at least improved by changing one’s lifestyle – eating a balanced diet high in complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight. Medication can also help at this stage.
Gestational diabetes is when pregnant women experience an increase in blood sugar due to a resistance to the hormone insulin. It is believed to be caused by pregnancy hormones.
Generally, after delivery, the blood sugar level will return to normal. Women who experience gestational diabetes have higher chances of developing type 2 diabetes in the future and should be screened for diabetes regularly.
There is a strong indication that aging could contribute to the onset of type 2 diabetes. From the age of 45 on, one is at a statistically higher risk of developing diabetes. Anyone over 45 should be screened for diabetes once every three years.
Obesity is also very much associated with type 2 diabetes. Those classified as obese have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes than those who maintain a healthy body weight. If an individual has a BMI of over 25 and at least one other diabetes risk factor, it is recommended that a doctor should test them for diabetes at least once every three years. For those of Asian descent, the ADA recommended body mass index cutoff for diabetes testing is 23.
Diabetes has shown to be, in some proportion, hereditary. Therefore, it is essential for anyone with relatives who have diabetes to be tested regularly.
There are many ways to test for diabetes, the most common being a blood sugar test. Blood sugar tests are done in three stages. Each stage can stand alone, and any combination of the three can be done to get the most accurate results.
Before diabetes is diagnosed, the test is usually repeated for confirmation.
The first and most important way to manage type 2 diabetes is to encourage lifestyle adjustments. An unhealthy weight and inactivity are common risk factors for diabetes. It is essential for everyone to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly whether you have been diagnosed with diabetes or not.
To decrease your risk for type 2 diabetes or manage it if you have already been diagnosed, avoid smoking and excessive alcohol use.
Medication can also be taken to reduce insulin resistance as it occurs in type 2 diabetes. Some medications can also help regulate blood sugar levels.
Some common medications prescribed for type 2 diabetes include:
These are just a few of the medications available to treat people with type 2 diabetes. A doctor will provide a care plan, including any necessary prescriptions.
People who have type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin at all. They will need insulin replacement therapy to manage their blood sugar levels. The insulin must be injected on a consistent basis. Advances in technology provide more convenient options to administer insulin, such as insulin pumps and insulin pens. Some people with type 2 diabetes may also need insulin injections if their pancreas gets to a point where it is not producing enough insulin on its own.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. In an autoimmune disorder, the immune cells mistake healthy body cells for foreign pathogens and destroy them. Damage to the pancreas leads to type 1 diabetes. Therefore, a transplant may be effective in resolving type 1 diabetes. If the transplant is successful, it could completely cure the individual.
In the long run, people with diabetes are at increased risk for organ failure, strokes, heart attacks, and even death. However, if detected early, diabetes can be effectively managed, which is why early diagnosis is so critical.
According to the CDC, “In the United States, 88 million adults—more than 1 in 3—have prediabetes. What’s more, over 84% of them don’t know they have it. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.” Prediabetes is reversible and at this stage, type 2 diabetes is preventable.
If you notice any possible diabetes symptoms, contact your doctor. The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin.
Book an appointment with our sister site PlushCare to talk with an online doctor. They can help diagnose, treat, and manage care for type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Get started online today by booking an appointment with PlushCare here.
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