Figuring out if you have diabetes is not as easy as recognizing a few symptoms. In fact, diabetes itself is widely known by doctors to be asymptomatic in most early onset cases. This is one of the main reasons that diabetes screenings are so important, and also why the Centers for Disease Control recommends getting these diabetes screenings completed once every two to three years.
In order to understand why diabetes tests are so important, let’s take a look at some of the basics of the most common disease that afflicts Americans today.
What Is Diabetes?
As you know, diabetes is a debilitating disease that alters the body’s ability to regulate the concentration of sugar in the blood. The pH of the blood and the balance of sugars within the bloodstream play a vital role in many processes in the body.
Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces. Insulin plays an important role in breaking down excess sugar and purifying the blood.
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. It enables the glucose from the food we eat to pass from the bloodstream into the cells in the body to produce energy. All carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in the blood. Insulin helps glucose get into the cells.
When insulin levels are not in the proper balance or when the body becomes insulin-resistant, the body can be at risk for both hyper (too much sugar) and hypoglycemia (too little).
Types Of Diabetes
There are a two types of Diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes typically develops mostly in younger patients. This condition is a bit more serious and involves the body losing its ability to produce the necessary amount of insulin. Patients with Type 1 diabetes need daily insulin injections.
Type 2 diabetes is more common in adults and accounts for around 90% of all diabetes cases. When you have Type 2 diabetes, your body does not make good use of the insulin that it produces or doesn’t produce enough. The most effective treatment and preventive approach is a healthy lifestyle, including increased physical activity and a healthy diet full of vegetables, wholegrains and lean protein. However, over time most people with Type 2 diabetes will require oral drugs and/or insulin to keep their blood glucose levels under control and to avoid emergency situations.
How Is Diabetes Diagnosed?
Diabetes is diagnosed by a few different methods. The primary method used by providers involves a simple blood test that measures glucose levels. The most common is the A1c test. This test, also called HbA1C or glycated hemoglobin test, provides the average blood glucose level over the past three months. This test measures the amount of glucose that is attached to hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen.
There is also an oral glucose tolerance test that measures the amount of glucose in your blood after a night of fasting and how the body responds to insulin. This test involves drinking a sugary drink while your body’s reaction to the sudden influx of sugar is measured over time. A simpler version of this that is more widely used, is a fasting glucose after a 12 hour fast with no sugar load beforehand.
Who Should Be Tested For Diabetes?
Everyone should have their blood sugar checked periodically as part of the process for getting tested for diabetes. Diabetes is the seventh most common cause of death in the U.S. Moreover, diabetes itself does not present any noticeable symptoms in most patients. This makes it essential to get tested periodically in order to stay aware of your blood sugar levels. If you haven’t scheduled your blood sugar screening in the last few years – now is the time!
The earlier your doctor is able to detect pre-diabetes or diabetes, preventive management can begin and complications can be lessened or prevented. If a blood test determines you have pre-diabetes, you can work with your provider to make critical lifestyle adjustments that will help your body rebalance its natural blood sugar metabolism. These critical actions, if adopted early enough, can dramatically reduce the chances of developing into Type 2 diabetes.
Reach Out To Imperial Center Family Medicine
Imperial Center Family Medicine is a full-service primary and preventive care practice. Their dedicated and compassionate team always strives to provide the highest level of care available to their valued patients. Talkwith them about diabetes screenings today.