What is Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic health condition that causes blood glucose(sugar) levels in your body to become abnormally high. There are two different types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce insulin. People with type 1 are dependent on insulin injections to keep blood glucose at acceptable levels. In type 2 diabetes, the body does not use insulin properly. Insulin levels also start to decrease over time in type 2.
Type 2 diabetes is more common accounting for 90-95% of cases and affects roughly 1 in 10 Americans. Millions of Americans go undiagnosed or have the early stages of the disease, also known as pre-diabetes. Common symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, feeling thirsty or hungry, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, and tingling or numbness in the hands and feet.
How is Diabetes diagnosed?
A blood test is used to diagnose diabetes. The following table shows target levels that are recommended by the American Diabetes Association®:
A1C (average levels of blood sugar over past 3 months) < 6.5 %
Fasting plasma glucose (8 hrs without food/drink) 100-126 mg/dl
Random plasma glucose (after food/drink) < 200 mg/dl
So I have Diabetes. How can it be treated?
Once diabetes is diagnosed, it is important to start treating it immediately as there are several long-term complications that can occur if blood sugars are not controlled. High glucose levels over time can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, eye problems including blindness, nerve damage, and amputation of lower limbs. Seeing your doctor and getting the appropriate health screenings regularly are critical to preventing these complications. Lifestyle changes through diet and exercise can help lower glucose levels in the body. Sometimes these changes are not enough, however, and medication is also needed.
Who is at risk for Diabetes?
Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes are a family history, older than 45 years of age, obesity, physical inactivity, or certain ethnicities such as African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders. If you or someone you know is at risk of developing diabetes, contact your provider or take advantage of our free glucose testing and screening at Cass St Pharmacy Gundersen Health System.