by Dr. Brad
There can be little doubt that diabetes is a growing problem, and more and more men and women are finding themselves faced with the serious health challenges a diagnosis of diabetes carries with it. Diabetics face an increased risk of circulation problems, vision problems, cardiac issues and other serious complications. It is important, therefore, for those newly diagnosed with diabetes, as well as those who have been living with the disease for years, to understand the disease and how it can be kept under control. There may be a history of diabetes in your family, if there is, you need to be regularly tested to ensure you stay healthy. The testing process for diabetes is straightforward enough, but it is important for patients to understand how the disease is diagnosed as well as what treatment options are available. Diabetes is broken down into type 1 and type 2, with type 1 representing childhood diabetes and type 2 representing the adult onset version. It is important to note that as the developed world continues to struggle with problems related to obesity and poor diet, adult onset diabetes is being seen in younger and younger men and women and increasingly in children and teenagers as well. No matter what the type, the symptoms that lead diabetics to initially seek treatment are very similar. Typical symptoms that suggest a diagnosis of diabetes include excessive thirst, frequent urination and unexplained weight loss. These symptoms may worsen over time, prompting those affected to seek medical assistance. Routine screening for adult onset diabetes is recommended as part of the standard medical examination for those with a number of risk factors that may predispose them to the disease. These risk factors include a family history of diabetes, obesity, poor diet and smoking. Those who may be at risk should be sure to share this information with their doctors in order to develop an effective screening program. There are a number of tests used by medical professionals to screen for diabetes, including the fasting blood glucose test, the glucose tolerance test and random blood glucose testing. It is important for patients to discuss the pros and cons of each of these methods, as well as their specific risk factors, in order to determine the best course of treatment. The criteria for determining whether or not a particular patient is diabetic is quite specific, but the exact blood sugar reading that indicates a diagnosis of diabetes will be different depending on the exact type of test performed. After the testing has been completed and the results received it is important for each patient to discuss his or her results with their family doctor. A thorough understanding of the underlying disease condition is the first step toward effective treatment. For many clinicians the fasting plasma glucose test is considered the gold standard of diabetes testing, and many doctors will utilize this test in order to confirm or rule out a diagnosis of diabetes made through the random glucose testing method. A glucose level of 126 mg/dL or higher made through a fasting glucose test indicates a diagnosis of diabetes. Another excellent test for diagnosing diabetes in children and adults is the glucose tolerance test. During this test a 75g dose of glucose is administered orally and the patient’s blood plasma glucose level is taken two hours later. A plasma glucose level at or above 200 mg/dL indicates diabetes is present. Random blood glucose testing is frequently used to rule a diagnosis of diabetes in or out, as well as to keep track of blood sugar levels in those with a confirmed diagnosis. A random blood glucose level of at or above 200 mg/dL typically indicates that diabetes is present, although the doctor may order one of the other two tests in order to confirm that diagnosis. This confirmation is particularly important when clinical symptoms such as increased thirst, unexplained weight loss, frequent urination and blurred vision have not been reported. Diabetes is a chronic condition with lifelong implications for the patient, and it is important for physicians to make a confirmed diagnosis before ordering treatment and lifestyle changes. Repeated blood sugar testing may be ordered, particularly if the original readings were borderline. There is no doubt that a diagnosis of diabetes is a life-changing event, and that is why physicians and others in the medical community are so careful about making and confirming such a diagnosis. Enormous strides have been made recently in both the testing and treatment of diabetes, and additional discoveries continue to be made year after year. While there is still no cure for diabetes, there are more effective ways to control the disease. From diet and lifestyle changes to better medications, there are plenty of avenues for diabetes to explore.
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