Diabetes – testing, treatment and complications

Diabetes can be diagnosed using various tests, some of these tests are used by people who are already diagnosed with diabetes to check their blood glucose levels.

Blood glucose tests

These are often done when someone has the symptoms of diabetes so that their blood glucose levels can be checked. Sometimes this is done straight away (without fasting), sometimes it is done as a fasting test. This is where the person will be required to not eat for around 8 hours before hand. Drinking water is permitted during the fasting period.

This test is often carried out by people who are already diagnosed diabetic to check their current blood glucose levels.

Oral glucose tolerance test

This test requires fasting of 8 hours before the blood glucose level is checked. The next part of the test will require the person to drink a sugary drink. After 2 hours they will then have their blood sugars checked again to see how the body is dealing with the drink.

HbA1c test

This blood test measures the average blood glucose level for the previous 2-3 months. It is a way of checking a persons long-term diabetic control. If the person has high levels of HbA1c (glycated hameoglobin) in their red blood cells, it means that the persons blood glucose levels have been high over the last few months. No fasting is required for this test.

Diabetes treatment

Unfortunately diabetes cannot be cured at present, but it can be managed successfully with lifestyle changes and medication.

Type 1 treatment

A type 1 diabetic will require insulin injections, although new developments such as pumps are sometimes being used.

Type 2 treatment

A type 2 diabetic will be advised to adjust their lifestyle such as losing weight if they are overweight, stopping smoking, doing more physical activity and eating healthily. If this does not help, or does not help enough, then tablets will usually be prescribed. It is quite likely that eventually the type 2 diabetic will need to have insulin injections.

Complications

If diabetes is not well controlled, it can lead to complications, such as:

  • Eyes – diabetes can affect the blood vessels in the eye, leading to problems with eyesight
  • Feet – diabetes can affect the circulation in the feet, this can lead to ulcers and other problems
  • Nerves – diabetes can cause nerve damage which leads to loss of sensation, numbness, pain and pins and needles
  • Heart – diabetes increases the risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and strokes