What Is Diabetes?
The term “diabetes” refers to a group of diseases that affect how a body uses glucose. Normally, the body breaks down sugars and starches you eat into glucose, which is then used as energy for your cells. Insulin is a hormone that controls glucose levels in the bloodstream and transports the sugar throughout the body. Patients who suffer from diabetes are separated into two distinct types, both of which are related to elevated glucose levels.
Type 1 diabetes was previously known as “juvenile diabetes” and is commonly diagnosed in children or young adults. Only five percent of diabetes patients have this form of the disease. Type 1 prevents the body from producing insulin, causing hyperglycemia and other symptoms.
Type 2 diabetics are able to produce insulin, but their body does not use it properly. This causes glucose levels in the blood to rise higher than normal. The condition is most common in adults over 40. While type 1 diabetics experience symptoms quickly and severely, many type 2 patients do not.
Causes and Risk Factors
The exact cause of both types of diabetes is unknown. Many researchers and doctors agree that genetic predisposition and environmental factors play an important role. People with relatives who have diabetes are at a higher risk of developing the condition than someone without evidence of it in their family history.
Type 2 diabetes is very closely linked to health and weight. Patients with more fatty tissue are more resistant to insulin than thinner individuals. An inactive lifestyle contributes to poor blood pressure and weight gain, leading to an increased risk of developing type 2. Your chances of contracting the condition further increase as you age, exercise less and lose muscle mass.
Diagnosis and Treatment
One of the most common methods to detect diabetes is the glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. This blood test indicates your average blood sugar level over the past few months. An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates you have diabetes. Levels between 5.7 and 6.4 percent indicate pre-diabetes, and anything below 5.7 is considered normal. Some doctors might also perform a random blood sugar test, which measures the amount of glucose in your blood at that moment. Anything higher than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) suggests diabetes.
Diabetes has quickly become a common disease. While a variety of treatment options are available, each patient requires individual treatment. Regular blood sugar monitoring, insulin injections, and oral medications can all play a role in a diabetic’s daily life. Healthy eating and regular exercise are also effective ways to manage the condition, especially when used in conjunction with other treatment options.
Diabetes Testing and Treatment in Sacramento
Cares Community Health is a private, nonprofit community health center serving the greater Sacramento area. Our board-certified medical staff provides a number of health services, including diabetes testing and treatment. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.