Getting diagnosed with diabetes can be one personal battle, fought every single day for the rest of one’s life, if not for introspection and right intervention.
Recognizing type 2 diabetes to be a progressive disease, it all starts with a combination of factors that add up the odds of developing the lifestyle condition.
Some of the readers are chronic night owls. For others, it’s giving into tempting baked goods or empty calories. Midnight noshing, two extra spoons of sugar, long periods of inactivity…the list goes on! And with 1 in 11 people, type 2 diabetes continues to be a common disease in the adult population.
And what’s even more shocking is that 1 in 2 (i.e. 232 million) people with diabetes remain undiagnosed. A state of denial- not seeking proper medical help and personal management- or not undergoing screening for blood sugars can lead to a consortium of several other diseases and organ-wide malfunctions that follow as complications.
Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) or diabetes hereafter, is the most prevalent type of diabetes mellitus (~95%) characterized with high blood sugar.
In a normal body, when a person eats sugar (or technically glucose or carbohydrates), insulin hormone pushes it out of the blood into the cells to generate energy. In diabetic people, however, insulin becomes less responsive or cells become insulin resistant.
Due to this, insulin fails to put glucose (sugar) inside the cells, and it stays in the blood– a situation called hyperglycemia. This high glucose loaded blood causes damage to the inner lining of the blood vessels.
And by the time people start to notice symptoms like increased hunger and thirst, blurry vision, unnecessary fatigue, and frequent urination, they would have transitioned through normal glucose levels to prediabetes, and ultimately the dreaded type 2 diabetes.
Important Tests to determine Type 2 Diabetes:
One must necessarily get blood tests done and check for the possibility of diabetes if they notice any of the above symptoms. This should also be done if one has been overweight or obese for past few months- with a history of heart diseases. Let us understand some of those tests that are determinants of diabetes.
- HbA1c– This test tells about the average blood sugar values over the past two or three months. When glucose enters the body, some hemoglobin gets coated with it (glycated hemoglobin). When blood glucose rises, it encapsulates more and more of hemoglobin causing disruption of its normal functions. HbA1c values give a clear picture of long-term condition of diabetes, making HbA1c an efficient tool if one decides to monitor their diabetes.
- Fasting Blood Sugar –Fasting blood sugar indicates the amount of glucose that is in the blood after 10-12 hours of fasting. Fasting is recommended to process any existing glucose in the blood by avoiding further intake of glucose-rich food for a given time.
- Fasting Blood Insulin –Since insulin is the key hormone that manages the glucose out of the blood, high levels of fasting (10-12 hours) insulin coupled with high fasting blood sugar may indicate ineffective insulin and diabetic condition.
- Random Glucose Test –Regardless of when a person eats, checking blood glucose levels randomly throughout the day is another way of estimating probability of diabetes. For a diabetic patient along with other tests, this gives the nature of control over the disease.
- Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) – Though this one is less common; it may give interesting insight into the diabetic control of a patient. In this test, like other tests, the patient needs to fast for 10-12 hours, then consume a concentrated sugary drink (glucose solution). The glucose readings are then taken every 2 hours, and the inference is made based on the results.
- Post Prandial Blood Sugar (PPBS)- This is a common test that is performed at two hours interval post a meal. This test is accompanied by fasting blood glucose (10 -12 hours) followed by a regular meal and then estimating glucose levels every two hours to understand how quickly and how well glucose is getting pushed into the cells out of the blood.
Diabetes is a serious illness and has the potential to spark the onset of comorbidities like chronic cardiovascular diseases or renal dysfunctions. Therefore, it is essential to take necessary precautions and invest time in regular visits to your General Practitioner along with taking blood tests to avoid the debilitating complications of the condition.
Small lifestyle modifications can have significant clinical benefits. Type 2 Diabetes, being a lifestyle disease, is reversible by adopting healthy food habits, planned intervals between the meals, improving sleep schedules, finding ways to de-stress through mindful meditation, relaxing yoga asanas, and practicing suited physical activity routines. It is extremely vital to take control over your body before it takes control over you.