Diabetes is a health condition in which the body's ability to produce or respond to insulin is impaired. This causes blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels to become too high. Diabetes can lead to serious health complications, such as cardiovascular disease and kidney failure, so it is important to get tested if symptoms are present.
What are the Different Types of Diabetes?
Insulin is a hormone that helps cells to absorb sugar, which the cells need to transform into energy. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin. Without insulin, cells are deprived of the fuel which enables them to survive. Type 1 diabetes often occurs in children or young adults, and accounts for 5-10% of diabetes cases.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body produces too little insulin, or cannot use insulin effectively. It is generally diagnosed in adulthood, and is often associated with excess body weight, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol levels.
When to get Tested for Diabetes
In both types of diabetes, there are common warning signs that may indicate that it is necessary to get checked by a physician. However, sometimes symptoms are so mild that they go unnoticed. Early detection of diabetes is crucial to protect against complications of diabetes, so symptoms should be monitored and taken seriously.
Diabetes symptoms can include:
- Urinating frequently
- Feeling very thirsty or hungry
- Feeling very tired
- Blurry vision from time to time, or sudden vision changes
- Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
For those with Type 1 diabetes, unexplained weight loss or episodes of low blood sugar can be signs of diabetes as well. With Type 2 diabetes, tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands or feet can also be symptoms.
There are some factors that put people at more risk for Type 2 diabetes than others. These include:
- Age 45 years or older
- Being overweight or obese
- Having an immediate family member with type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure (over 140/90 or higher)
- Abnormal cholesterol levels
- Prior gestational diabetes (elevated blood glucose levels during pregnancy)
- African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic American/Latino heritage
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle
It is important for people with diabetes to frequently monitor their blood glucose levels in order to keep them as close to normal as possible. Those with Type 1 diabetes, and many with Type 2 diabetes, require insulin in order to maintain normal blood glucose levels. Insulin can be administered either by injections or insulin pumps.
Recent advances in technology, such as touchscreen insulin pumps with smartphone styling and continuous glucose monitoring integration, provide great flexibility by allowing users to easily check glucose readings directly on their insulin pump screen. This opportunity to discreetly check and adjust readings on the go is particularly beneficial if an individual is self-conscious about using an insulin pump device.
Understanding and knowing the signs of diabetes will go a long way toward letting you know whether getting tested is a good idea. If diagnosed, understanding both the results and the lifestyle changes needed will help make the transition to managing your diabetes much easier.