Knowing whether or not you have diabetes can be tricky. Diabetes does not always come along with obvious tell-tell symptoms.
It is important to, first of all, know what diabetes is?
Diabetes mellitus, or simply diabetes, is a disease of the endocrine system in which there is a high volume of sugar, or glucose, in the bloodstream.
High blood sugar occurs either because enough insulin is not being produced by the pancreas, or due to insulin resistance which makes cells unresponsive to the insulin that is being produced.
Insulin is the hormone responsible for breaking down glucose, or sugar. The lack of insulin response may lead to certain classic diabetic symptoms.
The most common symptoms of diabetes include
Polydipsia (excessive thirst),
Polyphagia (excessive hunger),
Polyuria (frequent urination),
Glycosuria (sugar, or glucose, in urine).
Types of Diabetes
In diagnosing diabetes, it is important to have an understanding of the main types of the disease.
The three main types of diabetes are Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas fails to produce the hormone insulin.
People who have type 1 diabetes are required to inject insulin daily in order to stabilize their blood sugar levels.
Type 1 diabetes is largely influenced by genetics.
Type 2 diabetes occurs as a result of insulin resistance; insulin resistance is when fat and muscle cells become unable to absorb glucose from the bloodstream, therefore raising the blood sugar level.
Gestational diabetes is diabetes that occurs only in pregnant women; hormones produced during pregnancy keep the expectant mother’s blood sugar from becoming too low, and as a result, some women develop impaired glucose tolerance during their pregnancies.
Diagnosing Type 1 Diabetes
Making the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes may involve testing blood glucose levels on more than one day.
The diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is usually made when blood glucose levels are found to be elevated on more than one day.
A fasting blood glucose level is said to be consistent with type 1 diabetes if it is higher than 126 mg/dL.
Glucose levels are also considered elevated following meals if the blood glucose level is above 200 mg/dL two hours after eating.
Diagnosing Type 2 Diabetes
Diagnosing type 2 diabetes is pretty much the same as diagnosing type 1 diabetes.
The same blood glucose numbers are used in determining the presence of diabetes.
Distinguishing type 2 diabetes from type 1 diabetes is as simple as performing a test known as a C-peptide assay; the C-peptide assay measures the amount of endogenous insulin that is being produced by the pancreas.
Diagnosing Gestational Diabetes
The diagnosis of gestational diabetes is usually made between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy.
The diagnosis is usually made following an oral glucose tolerance test or OGTT. The expectant mother’s blood glucose level is tested one hour following drinking a sugary glucose solution.
The blood glucose level is considered high above 180 mg/dL. If the expectant mother’s glucose level is high, then she will need to undergo a three-hour glucose tolerance test on another day.
During the three-hour test, glucose levels are tested every hour for three hours following drinking a glucose solution. The glucose level is considered high above 189 mg/dL after one hour, above 155 mg/dL after two hours, and above 140 mg/dL after three hours.
It is extremely important to take caution and discuss any troubling symptoms with your doctor if you think you may be at risk for having diabetes. Early diagnosis is the key to having the best prognosis!