Another 86 million people have prediabetes (when blood glucose levels or A1C levels — from the a1c test — are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes). Without intervention, up to 30 percent of people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes within five years.
The actual level of blood sugar at which these symptoms occur varies with each person, but usually it occurs when blood sugars are less than 50 mg/dl. Untreated, severely low blood sugar levels can lead to coma, seizures, and, in the worst case scenario, irreversible brain death.
My GP said that my diabetes was mild enough to be controlled through diet alone, and gave me a wad of on nutrition for diabetics. I took up salads, cut down on carbohydrates and ate my five-a-day — but progress was slow. Over seven months I shed a stone but my blood sugar was still too high — around 7mmol/l.
Severe abdominal pain: Depending on the location, this can be a sign of heart attack, abdominal aortic aneurysm (dangerous widening of the large artery in the abdomen), diabetic ketoacidosis, or interrupted blood flow to the bowels.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce insulin, so replacement insulin must be delivered by injection, pump, or inhalation. People who have type 1 diabetes need to carefully plan and follow meals, timing of meals, and activity to keep their blood glucose (sugar) in check. It’s important to measure blood sugar levels as low blood sugar can be dangerous, too.
Gestational diabetes (the type triggered by pregnancy and hormonal changes) affects about 4 percent of all pregnant women, especially Hispanic, African-American, Native American and Asian women, along with those who are over 25 years old, above their normal body weight before pregnancy and who have a family history of diabetes. (10b)
Having a family history of diabetes makes it more likely that a woman will develop gestational diabetes, which suggests that genes play a role. Genes may also explain why the disorder occurs more often in African Americans, American Indians, Asians, and Hispanics/Latinas.
Day six was a bad day. Despite it being mid July, I wore four layers of clothing to keep warm — and even then my fingers grew numb. I felt tired in the evening, and then constipation set in. Perhaps it was because I was not drinking enough water. Laxatives saved the day and the following morning I recorded my lowest overnight fasting glucose reading — 4.3mmol/l — a real boost.
By checking your own blood sugar levels, you can track your body’s changing needs for insulin and work with your doctor to figure out the best insulin dosage. People with diabetes check their blood sugar up to several times a day with an instrument called a glucometer. The glucometer measures glucose levels in a sample of your blood dabbed on a strip of treated paper. Also, there are now devices, called continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS), that can be attached to your body to measure your blood sugars every few minutes for up to a week at a time. But these machines check glucose levels from skin rather than blood, and they are less accurate than a traditional glucometer.
Type 1 diabetes (also called “juvenile”/young diabetes) is different than type 2 diabetes because it occurs when insulin-producing cells of the pancreas get destroyed by the immune system, therefore no insulin is produced and blood sugar levels go unmanaged. Type 1 diabetes tends to develop at a younger age, usually before someone turns 20 years old. (11a) In fact, something called latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) is a disorder where the progression of autoimmune β-cell failure is slow. LADA patients usually do not require insulin, at least during the first 6 months after a diabetes diagnosis. (11b)
Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If you have low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol, your risk of type 2 diabetes is higher. Triglycerides are another type of fat carried in the blood. People with high levels of triglycerides have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Your doctor can let you know what your cholesterol and triglyceride levels are.
Your diabetes health care team will let you know what your blood sugar levels should be and when to test. In general, kids with type 1 diabetes should test their blood sugar levels with a blood glucose meter at least four times a day.
Endocrinology is the specialty of medicine that deals with hormone disturbances, and both endocrinologists and pediatric endocrinologists manage patients with diabetes. People with diabetes may also be treated by family medicine or internal medicine specialists. When complications arise, people with diabetes may be treated by other specialists, including neurologists, gastroenterologists, ophthalmologists, surgeons, cardiologists, or others.
The classic oral glucose tolerance test measures blood glucose levels five times over a period of three hours. Some physicians simply get a baseline blood sample followed by a sample two hours after drinking the glucose solution. In a person without diabetes, the glucose levels rise and then fall quickly. In someone with diabetes, glucose levels rise higher than normal and fail to come back down as fast.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.
American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Pro. Clinical Practice Recommendations. Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2013 – Slide presentation. Accessed June 26, 2013. http://professional.diabetes.org/ResourcesForProfessionals.aspx?cid=84160