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Diabetes – The Chronic Condition That Can Strike at Any Age

About one out of every ten people have diabetes. However, one out of every five of those people do not realize they have this potentially deadly condition. In fact, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

To educate people about the disease, November is designated Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes can strike anyone, at any age.

Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that causes higher than average blood sugar levels. Normally, your body produces insulin from the pancreas to help regulate the blood sugar. Insulin acts like a key to open your cells to allow the blood sugar to enter so you can use it for energy. If you have diabetes, your pancreas either doesn’t make enough insulin or cannot effectively use its own insulin.

There are two main forms of diabetes, with very different causes, symptoms and treatments.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease, and while there are treatments to manage it, there is no cure. About 5 percent of people who have diabetes have type 1 diabetes — or insulin-dependent diabetes. In the past, type 1 diabetes was called juvenile diabetes, because patients often found out they had it during childhood, but people of all ages can develop type 1 diabetes.

In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces no insulin. The reason? The body’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas. The islet cells sense glucose in the blood and produce the right amount of insulin to normalize blood sugars. Once the insulin-producing cells are destroyed, a person can no longer produce their own insulin. Without insulin, sugar stays in the blood and builds up.

Complications of Type 1 Diabetes

If left untreated, high blood sugar levels can cause health complications and internal damage.

Blindness is a common diabetes complication. Diabetes is also a leading cause of kidney failure. Many people with diabetes have impaired sensation in the hands and feet, including neuropathy.

Diabetes can also cause digestive problems, erectile dysfunction, and fertility issues. The conditions also increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Diabetes can also lead to amputation of toes and feet. In extreme cases, it can also lead to coma and death.

Signs of Type 1 Diabetes

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes often appear suddenly. The most common symptoms are:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Bed-wetting may occur in children who have already been toilet trained
  • Rapid and unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Extreme weakness or fatigue
  • Unusual irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain
  • Fruity breath odor

Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is treated by taking daily insulin injections or using an insulin pump or other device to replace the insulin no longer created naturally. A healthy diet and regular exercise can also help control blood sugar levels.

If you take too much insulin, then your blood sugar can drop to a dangerously low level. This is called hypoglycemia, and it can be life-threatening. If you take too little insulin, your blood sugar can rise to a dangerously high level. Your cells are not getting the sugar, or energy, they need. This is called hyperglycemia.

You will work with your doctor to determine the proper insulin dose and delivery method.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.  About 90 percent of people with diabetes have type 2, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is also called adult-onset diabetes, since it typically develops after age 35. Type 2 diabetes is typically tied to people who are overweight, with a sedentary lifestyle. People with type 2 diabetes are able to produce some of their own insulin, but often it’s not enough.

Signs of Type 2 Diabetes

Many of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes are similar to those of type 1 diabetes. The difference is the onset of the condition. Type 2 diabetes usually presents more slowly, and the symptoms are not as noticeable as those for type 1 diabetes. For these reasons, many people mistakenly overlook the warning signs. They also might think that the symptoms are the signs of other conditions, like aging, overworking or hot weather. The complications of type 2 diabetes mirror those of type 1.

A combination of risk factors can increase the likelihood of type 2 diabetes. They include:

  • Being overweight
  • Family history
  • Physically inactive
  • Age 45 or older

Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes

One of the biggest differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes is the approach to treatment. The majority of treatment programs for type 2 diabetes focus on diet, exercise and weight loss as well as improving ways to better use the insulin the body already produces to normalize blood sugar levels. If blood sugar levels are still high, medications can help the body use its own insulin more efficiently. In some cases, insulin injections are necessary. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes can be reversed.

Prediabetes

Prediabetes means that your body is showing signs that could lead to type 2 diabetes. In prediabetes, there is too much glucose in the blood, but not as much as in diabetes.

People with prediabetes often have no symptoms at all. Your health care provider may decide to test you for prediabetes because of your age, weight, family history of diabetes or other health factors.

Not everyone with prediabetes will get diabetes, but the risk increases, especially if they don’t make lifestyle changes.

There are four main ways people with prediabetes can manage their condition:

  • Eating well
  • Getting active
  • Weight loss
  • Medications

Diabetes Testing

Now, with COVID-19 concerns, it is even more important than ever to take control of your health. People with diabetes face a higher chance of experiencing serious complications from COVID-19. If you’ve been concerned that you might have diabetes but are afraid to go to the doctor for fear of contracting COVID-19, Any Lab Test Now provides a safer alternative and a wide variety of testing options.

Any Lab Test Now offers six specialized lab tests you can take and share the results with your doctor.

Diabetes Maintenance Panel – this provides a complete blood count, Glucose-Serum, Hemoglobin A1c, and a Diabetic Urinalysis. This is an effective panel for diabetics, and also for those who want to see if they have diabetes.

Diabetic Urinalysis (Microalbumin) – this tests for the protein albumin in the urine. It’s something that the kidneys usually filter out, so if it shows up in the results, it can point to potential diabetes complications like kidney disease.

Glucose Blood Test – this is the most common diabetes test. Additionally, diabetics self-conduct this test multiple times a day to monitor their blood glucose levels.

Glucose Tolerance Test – this is a way to check how your body metabolizes sugar. First, a blood sample is collected, then you’ll be given a cup of glucose to drink. After that, your blood will be collected again every 30 to 60 minutes. It usually takes up to three hours to complete the test and can confirm diabetes.

Hemoglobin A1c – this test is useful in helping diabetics determine if their disease is under control. It’s a valuable measure of the overall blood glucose levels over a period of several months. The test can also help detect prediabetes and diabetes.

Insulin Lab Test – this test can let you know if your body is producing too much or too little insulin. Too little insulin, also known as insulin resistance, is often associated with type 2 diabetes. If you have prediabetes, this test can be used to monitor whether diet and lifestyle changes are having a great enough impact to reverse or improve your condition.

 Be at Ease

Any Lab Test Now wants you to be at ease when it comes to seeking out any type of lab work, including testing for diabetes.

We provide you a safe and clean alternative location for lab work. Each of our 185+ stores is sanitized several times a day, in accordance with the CDC’s protocols. Any Lab Test Now is a committed partner in helping you manage your family’s healthcare so you can make educated decisions that will directly affect your quality of life. We want to put you at ease during the coronavirus outbreak. We are here to help.