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Understanding Diabetes -- Diagnosis and Treatment

How Do I Know If I Have Diabetes?

Your doctor may suspect you have diabetes if you have some risk factors for diabetes, or if you have high levels of blood sugar in your urine. Your blood sugar (also called blood glucose) levels may be high if your pancreas is producing little or no insulin (type 1 diabetes), or if the body is not responding normally to insulin (type 2 diabetes).

Getting diagnosed begins with one of three tests. in most cases, your doctor will want to repeat a test that is high in order to confirm the diagnosis:

Understanding Diabetes

  • A fasting glucose test is a test of your blood sugar levels taken in the morning before you have eaten. A level of 126 mg/dL or higher may mean that you have diabetes. 
  • An oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) entails drinking a beverage containing glucose and then having your blood glucose levels checked every 30 to 60 minutes for up to 3 hours. If the glucose level is 200 mg/dL or higher at 2 hours, then you might have diabetes. 
  • The A1c test is a simple blood test that shows your average blood sugar levels for the past 2-3 months.  An A1c level of 6.5% or higher may mean you have diabetes. 

Your doctor may also suggest a zinc transporter 8 autoantibody (ZnT8Ab) test. This blood test -- along with other information and test results -- can help determine if a person has type 1 diabetes instead of another type. The goal of having the ZnT8Ab test is a prompt and accurate diagnosis and that can lead to timely treatment.    

 

What Are the Treatments for Diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious disease that you cannot treat on your own. Your doctor will help you make a diabetes treatment plan that is right for you -- and that you can understand. You may also need other health care professionals on your diabetes treatment team, including a foot doctor, nutritionist, eye doctor, and a diabetes specialist (called an endocrinologist).

Treatment for diabetes requires keeping close watch over your blood sugar levels (and keeping them at a goal set by your doctor) with a combination of medications, exercise, and diet. By paying close attention to what and when you eat, you can minimize or avoid the "seesaw effect" of rapidly changing blood sugar levels, which can require quick changes in medication dosages, especially insulin.

Diabetes Drugs

If you have type 1 diabetes, your pancreas no longer makes the insulin your body needs to use blood sugar for energy. You will need insulin in the form of injections or through use of a continuous pump. Learning to give injections to yourself or to your infant or child may at first seem the most daunting part of managing diabetes, but it is much easier that you think.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
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Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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