Diabetes: Symptoms, Types, and Testing

According to the World Diabetes Foundation, over 387 million adults in the Middle East and North Africa aged 20-79 suffer from Diabetes. Experts expect this number to rise to over 600 million during the next two decades.

Diabetes is a caused by problems with the hormone insulin and a metabolic disorder. There are multiple types of diabetes and unfortunately this disease has no known cure.

Without a timely diagnosis future complications can develop like kidney damage, nerve damage, hearing or vision loss, cardiovascular disease, and the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease increases.

Types of Diabetes

Type 1, Type 2, and gestational are the three main types of diabetes. All these diseases result in high blood glucose, or too much sugar within your blood.

  • Type 1

Commonly presenting itself during childhood, type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to help the body metabolize glucose.

Genetics are the primary cause of type 1 diabetes and in some cases certain diseases. With type 1 diabetes the body’s immune system attacks insulin-producing cells within the pancreas.

  • Type 2

Adult-onset diabetes or type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. The body is unable to use insulin properly resulting in insulin resistance and high glucose levels.

Firstly, the body increases insulin production in an attempt to provide cells with glucose. Over time the body can no longer keep up with insulin production and the unprocessed glucose remains in the blood.

  • Gestational Diabetes

This form of diabetes develops during pregnancy and can affect your baby’s health. Gestational diabetes is not permanent like type 1 or type 2 diabetes and typically disappears after giving birth.

Ongoing diabetes prevention will be necessary after suffering from gestational diabetes. Although the disease lasts only for the duration of pregnancy, it is a sign you are at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

Symptoms of Diabetes

One in four people suffering from diabetes are unaware they have the condition. Catching the signs of diabetes early is extremely important, but unfortunately can be a challenge depending on the type of diabetes.

Diabetes does not present itself with obvious symptoms during the prediabetes stage. A person with prediabetes may suffer from frequent urination, fatigue, excessive thirst or hunger, and weight gain. All symptoms that can easily be overlooked.

Gestational diabetes, like prediabetes, also has no obvious symptoms. Your doctor will frequently provide blood sugar testing throughout pregnancy to monitor for its development.

Women worried they may develop gestational diabetes should tell their doctor if they are urinating more than normal, feel fatigued, suffer from excessive hunger and thirst, or have developed a yeast infection.

Type 1 or childhood diabetes affects a small percentage of the population and symptoms are often subtle. If your child is suffering from dry mouth, frequent urination, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, or frequent skin infections consult a doctor.

Often those who have a family history of diabetes are already aware they are at risk of developing type 2 and have a better chance of identifying the first stages of diabetes. Those with type 2 diabetes experience similar symptoms as well as poor wound healing.

Testing for Diabetes

Most healthcare experts recommend that people with a body mass index over 25, individuals over 45 years old, individuals diagnosed with prediabetes, and woman who have suffered from gestational diabetes receive frequent diabetes screenings.

To screen for prediabetes, type 1, or type 2 diabetes your doctor will perform a glycated haemoglobin or A1C test. This test involves taking a small blood sample to measure your average glucose level during the past 2-3 months.

Additional tests for prediabetes, type 1, and b diabetes include random blood sugar testing, fasting blood sugar tests, and oral glucose tests. With type 1 diabetes your doctor may also screen your urine.

If you are at risk of gestational diabetes your doctor will perform an initial glucose challenge test. This test involves drinking a sugary solution and having blood sugar levels tested one hour later. After the initial test, follow-up glucose tolerance tests may be performed to monitor your glucose level throughout pregnancy. Pregnant women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes should consume foods with a low glycaemic load such as apples, oranges, beans, chickpeas, and non-starchy vegetables.


Diabetes Management

After initial diagnosis it is vital to properly manage your diabetes to prevent future complications. Eating right is the most important part of diabetes management. After diagnosis consult with a nutritionist to see what changes in food consumption and lifestyle habits should be made to manage your condition.

Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels will help identify what lifestyle changes are beneficial or detrimental to your condition. At home blood sugar testing is the easiest way to monitor your glucose level and tests are readily available.

At home tests involve taking a small blood sample by pricking the finger. The blood is then placed on strips which will display your current blood sugar levels. There are a variety of blood glucose meters available depending on your needs and type of diabetes