just diagnosed with diabetes

Diagnosed with Diabetes – What’s Next?

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, the next step is to gain all the relevant information you can to understand your condition. Here is a brief look at diabetes, its symptoms, causes, risk factors, and treatment options.

Diabetes mellitus (widely known as diabetes) is a group of disorders that affect how your body uses glucose (blood sugar). It is characterized by high levels of blood sugar over a prolonged period. Blood sugar is vital to your health, as it’s one of the main sources of energy for your muscle and tissue cells, and acts as fuel for your brain. The fundamental cause of this disease varies by type. No matter the type, it can lead to excess sugar in your blood which, in turn, can lead to serious health issues.

diagnosed with diabetes

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

This is an autoimmune disease in which the cells in the pancreas (where insulin is produced) is attacked and destroyed by the immune system.

Type 2 Diabetes

This disorder occurs when your body becomes insulin-resistant and your blood gets built-up with sugar.

Prediabetes

When your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, then prediabetes occurs.

Gestational Diabetes

When your blood sugar level goes high during pregnancy, the placenta produces insulin-blocking hormones and causes gestational diabetes.

gestational diabetes

Symptoms of Diabetes

General Symptoms of Diabetes

  • Increased thirst and hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Wounds that won’t heal
  • Weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision

Symptoms Based on Gender

Males

  • Erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Poor muscle strength

Females

  • Yeast infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Itchy, dry skin

Gestational Diabetes Symptoms

Often women with this type of diabetes don’t observe any symptoms. The disorder is usually detected during an oral glucose tolerance test or routine blood sugar test performed usually between the 24 and 28 weeks of gestation. In rare cases, increased thirst or urination is experienced.

gestational diabetes

Risk Factors of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes usually starts in childhood. Individuals whose parents or siblings have type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk of getting it and should take a simple blood test to get a diagnosis. Moreover, your risk of type 1 diabetes also increases if you have any pancreatic disease, as it could slow down its ability to produce insulin.

Type 2 Diabetes

Your risk for type 2 diabetes increases if you:

  • Have high triglycerides, cholesterol or blood pressure
  • Are overweight
  • Aren’t active physically
  • Have prediabetes or have had gestational diabetes
  • Have a sibling or parent with the condition
  • Are of 45 years of age or older
overweight and diabetes

Gestational Diabetes

Your risk for gestational diabetes increases if you:

  • Have a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Have had the same disorder during a past pregnancy
  • Are overweight
  • Have given birth to a baby of more than 9 pounds of weight
  • Are over the age of 25 years
  • Have PCOS – Polycystic ovary syndrome

How is Diabetes Diagnosed?

Diabetes can be diagnosed in several ways. Each test often needs to be repeated on a different day to confirm the diagnosis. Testing should always be carried out through a healthcare provider and at a healthcare center, such as a laboratory or your doctor’s office. If your doctor determines that you have classic high blood sugar symptoms or your blood sugar level is extremely high along with one positive test, then they might not require a second confirmation test.

diabetes diagnosis

Diabetes is diagnosed with one of the following cases:

  • If your A1c test result is higher than 6.5% on two different days
  • If the level of your blood sugar is equal to or higher than 126 mg/dl (7 mmol/l)
  • If the results of your oral glucose tolerance test are over 200 mg/dl (11.1 mmol/l)
  • If the result of two random blood sugar tests is over 200 mg/dl (11.1 mmol/l) with symptoms

A1c Test

This test measures an average of your blood sugar levels for the past two to three months. One benefit to this test is that you don’t need to fast or consume any excessive fluids for it.

  • Normal: Less than 5.7%
  • Pre-Diabetes: 5.7 – 6.4%
  • Diabetes: 6.5% or higher

Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG)

This test is performed after 8 hours of complete fasting and usually is done first thing in the morning.

  • Normal: Less than 100
  • Pre-Diabetes: 100-125
  • Diabetes: 126 or higher

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)

This test is performed before and two hours after drinking a special sweet drink. The doctor checks your blood sugar levels both times to understand how your body processes sugar.

  • Normal: Less than 140 mg/dl
  • Pre-Diabetes: 140 mg/dl to 199 mg/dl
  • Diabetes: 200 mg/dl or higher

Random Plasma Glucose Test

This test can be performed at any time of the day when you’re suffering from severe symptoms of diabetes.

  • Normal: Less than 140
  • Pre-Diabetes: 140-199
  • Diabetes: 200 or higher
sugar and diabetes

Treatment Options for Diabetes

Diabetes is treated by doctors through various medications. Some of those drugs are available as injections while others can be taken by mouth.

Type 1 Diabetes

Insulin replaces the hormone that your body isn’t capable of producing and is the main treatment for type 1 diabetes. The most common ones used are the following four types of insulin:

Long-Acting Insulin: It starts working after a few hours of injection and its effects last for more than 24 hours.

Intermediate-Acting Insulin: It starts working within one to two hours and its effects last 12 to 18 hours.

Short-Acting Insulin: It starts working within half an hour and its effects last 6 to 8 hours.

Rapid-Acting Insulin: It starts working within 15 minutes and it lasts for 3 to 4 hours.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes can often be managed through lifestyle changes for some people. If diet and exercise aren’t enough to better your blood sugar, you’ll need to opt for medications. Be on the lookout for conditions associated with diabetes, such as diabetic neuropathy.

Drugs like glucagon-like peptides, DPP-4 inhibitors, biguanides, Meglitinides, Sulfonylureas, SGLT2 inhibitors, Thiazolidinediones, and alpha-glucosidase inhibitors can be taken to lower your blood sugar levels.

Some people also take insulin for this purpose. It’s best to consult your doctor before you switch to any new medications.

Gestational Diabetes

During pregnancy, it’s essential to monitor the levels of your blood sugar multiple times a day. If lifestyle changes such as incorporating a healthy diet and exercises in your routine aren’t enough to bring it down, you will need to take insulin.

Self-Care for Diabetes

Although insulin is known to be safe for the majority of individuals as well as a growing baby, self-medication is always discouraged. We highly recommend consulting your doctor to get a proper idea and deep understanding of your condition.

Once diagnosed with diabetes, you need to follow a balanced meal plan, take the prescribed medicines on time, and exercise regularly. Monitor your blood pressure and blood sugar levels at home. Lastly, do not miss any required laboratory tests and appointments with your health care providers! Remember that while diabetes is a lifelong disease, only you hold the key to manage it.

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