Diabetes is a health condition marked by the presence of high levels of blood glucose in the body. In normal circumstances, the blood sugar in our body is absorbed by the cells and converted into energy with the help of the hormone insulin (produced in the pancreas). Excess blood glucose is absorbed and stored in the liver. Another pancreatic hormone called glucagon helps in releasing this stored glucose as and when required by the body.
Sometimes, however, the body does not produce insulin in the required quantity or the cells fail to react to the hormone. So, the blood glucose is not converted into energy and is retained as it is. The retention of blood glucose in high levels in the body can bring about a host of serious health problems, such as heart disease , stroke, kidney damage, eye damage, blood circulation problems, nerve damage to the feet and other parts of the body, and impotency.
There are different reasons for the occurrence of diabetes, such as hereditary, lifestyle, and age-related factors. Some of the common symptoms are constant fatigue, increased thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, cramps, and blurred vision. If you experience any of these indicants, it is important to test yourself for this disease.
A blood sugar test is an important diagnostic tool in diabetes testing. This test is carried out in different ways:
- You may be required to fast for at least 14 hours beforehand.
- You may not be required to fast at all. Blood samples are taken randomly, several times, during the course of the day.
- You may be given a drink containing high levels of glucose, and blood samples are taken and checked at regular intervals of every two hours.
Taking the blood sample is a very simple procedure. When you visit a clinic or hospital, a tight band is wrapped on your upper arm to slow the blood circulation and make it easy to find the veins. Once a vein is located, the area is swabbed with alcohol, and a hypodermic needle is injected to draw the blood sample out. Then, the constricting band is removed, and a cotton ball is pressed on the injected area to stop the bleeding. Lastly, the area is covered with a piece of sticking plaster.
Despite the procedure being so simple, it can still have its share of complications. In this case, some people may experience faintness or nausea when confronted with the hypodermic needle or at the sight of blood. They may even react adversely to the oral glucose test. Very rarely, there are chances that the injected area might bleed, bruise, or develop an infection. Sometimes, multiple injections may be required to collect blood samples, and it can be quite problematic. Talk to your doctor about any special care to be taken if any complications arise.
After the blood samples have been collected, they are sent to the laboratory for analysis. If the samples indicate abnormally high levels of blood glucose, then it is an indication of diabetes.
Please bear in mind that the blood sugar tests can be affected by the following:
- What you have eaten or drunk.
- What medications, if any, you are on. This is because some oral contraceptives, diuretics, and corticosteroids can raise the blood sugar levels.
- Whether you have recently been ill, injured, or undergone a surgery. These factors can definitely cause fluctuations in the sugar levels.
Treatment for diabetes is determined depending on whether you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or diabetes mellitus. However, the underlying main aim in either of the types is to control the sugar levels and maintain them in the normal range.
The following pointers, if borne in mind, can definitely help in managing this disease to a great extent:
- Eating a low-fat, low-salt, and high-carbohydrate diet.
- Avoiding sugar and sugary food and drinks.
- Following a regular exercise regime.
- Taking insulin injections and any other required medications.
- Regularly checking the blood sugar levels with the help of glucose test strips.
Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of diabetes that occurs in pregnant women. During pregnancy, routine tests are carried out to check for this form of diabetes. Women, usually, don’t suffer from it after the birth of the baby and do not show any of the previously observed symptoms of diabetes. However, it needs to be monitored carefully during the entire period of pregnancy.
The more serious and prevalent form of diabetes is diabetes mellitus, which again has two forms namely: type 1 diabetes (which occurs when the body cannot produce any insulin) and type 2 diabetes (which is characterized by insulin resistance). This disease cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with medication, diet, and exercise. This will enable the patient to lead a sufficiently normal life.