Diabetes: Symptoms and Treatment

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Diabetes: Symptoms and Treatment

Diabetes is a disease that affects approximately 30.3 million Americans, which totals to 9.4% (or nearly one in ten) of the American population. This disease is defined by a dangerously high level of blood glucose (blood sugar). While diabetes has been known in some form since at least 1,500 B.C., methods for managing the disease are constantly evolving.

Symptoms of diabetes include the need to urinate frequently, weight loss, numb or tingly limbs, and feeling thirsty constantly. There are three types of diabetes (Type 1, Type 2, and gestational) which all have different levels of symptoms. Type 1 is often accompanied by nausea and stomach pains, while the second type may have virtually no symptoms at all. Gestational diabetes is a type that affects only pregnant women, usually those that in the middle of their pregnancies.

Only a licensed physician is able to diagnose a person with diabetes, and it is important that you consult your doctor if you think you may have symptoms. There are several ways that medical professionals test for the disease. A doctor may have you take an A1C test which measures the average blood sugar in your body for the past few months. If you A1C is higher than 6.5%, this percentage correlates to a positive diabetes test.

Another method called the Fasting Plasma Glucose test (FPG) can be used. With this test, you will be asked to fast at least eight hours before the test. A reading of 126 mg/dl results in a positive diabetes test.

The Oral Glucose Tolerance test is another method that is faster and only takes about two hours. Your doctor will take your blood sugar levels before and after drinking a highly sweetened drink specially designed to determine how your body processes sugar.

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, it is important that you fully understand ways to manage your health. Your doctor may advise you to lose weight to help lower blood sugar levels. They may also recommend an appointment with a registered dietician who can guide you developing healthy eating habits that will keep your blood sugar levels in check. Monitoring your carbohydrate intake is especially important as this will help you keep stable blood sugar levels.

Physical activity also lowers blood sugar, so be sure to ask your doctor about safe ways you can incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle. Do not make any major adjustments without consulting your doctor beforehand however, as you will want to make sure that your exercise routine is appropriate for your condition.

You may also need to monitor your blood sugar levels frequently. Some people with diabetes can manage their symptoms through diet and exercise, but other people may need to take medication and/or insulin. If you find that you are having difficulty managing your diabetes, there are many support groups that are available.

Surrounding yourself with others who are having similar experiences can help you problem-solve barriers in your own life while developing a network of support.

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