Some diseases, like diabetes, can be silent killers – displaying easy-to-miss symptoms that are mistaken for other ailments or ignored altogether.
In its early stages, it shows no signs at all; so, it’s easy to understand how many people live their lives undiagnosed with the disease… yet have that lingering feeling that something is amiss.
According to the most recent statistics reported by the American Heart Association, 8 million Americans aged 18 and older have type 2 Diabetes but are completely unaware of it.
Luckily, endocrinologists have advanced methods of detecting the disease, even when the telltale indicators fly under the radar. High levels of blood sugar are to blame for both type 1 and 2 Diabetes; however, how the levels rise comes about in different ways.
Type 1, which is quite rare (affecting only 5% of those with diabetes) is an autoimmune disease that develops when the body’s immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that generate insulin. Type 2 can be hereditary, with some nationalities more predisposed to it, but is more often brought on due to lifestyle choices. Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes can be caused by a combination of nature and nurture – that is, genetics and environmental factors such as obesity, lifestyle, a poor diet, and lack of exercise.
Diabetes symptoms, which include increased hunger and thirst, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, and increased urination at night, present themselves when the body’s blood sugar is abnormally spiked. Be familiar with the warning signs, and if you detect any of them – seek the help of your primary care doctor or an endocrinologist at your earliest convenience. They’ll conduct a series of tests to detect the presence of diabetes. However, certain people shouldn’t wait for the signs, but rather be screened due to their susceptibility.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that anyone over the age of 45, any woman who has experienced gestational diabetes, and anyone with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 25 be screened as a precautionary measure. Those who have been diagnosed with prediabetes in the past should get tested each year to monitor their blood sugar levels.
According to Mayo Clinic, the glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test offers accurate information about your blood sugar levels for the past two to three months (with or without fasting beforehand). This can be beneficial for detecting unusual patterns. An A1C level of 5.7% or less is considered “normal”, while 5.7% to 6.4% is a red flag for prediabetes. Those with a score of 6.5% or more are considered positive for Diabetes. Managing your blood sugar with insulin plays a major role in staying healthy; those who do this are typically able to be tested less often – about 4 times per year.
Have you ever eaten something very sweet, only to experience a blood sugar spike and then crash later? While most people only experience these feelings under extreme circumstances, those with Diabetes can endure widely varying glucose levels over the course of a day – so random testing is vital. Your doctor may recommend that a blood sample be taken at an unsystematic time to see if your levels are well-managed.
If random blood glucose tests keep coming back abnormal, a fasting test may also be utilized to provide accurate results that are easy to decipher. Because many medications can affect blood glucose levels, your physician may ask that you temporarily adjust your dosage leading up to this type of diagnostic. A small sample of blood will be sent to the lab where it’s tested for both prediabetes and diabetes.
Intercoastal Medical Group offers advanced services for diabetes testing and management. Led by a nurse practitioner and certified diabetes educator, their staff is highly-trained to assist you in the management of both hormonal imbalances and metabolic dysfunctions within the body. If you are struggling with handling your diabetes, or suspect that you may be prediabetic, the endocrinologists at Intercoastal Medical can help. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, find the provider and location nearest you. You can also request an appointment online now.