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.


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


What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where the body does not produce enough insulin or the insulin that is produced is not being used effectively. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas and is required to help control the glucose level in the blood. If the insulin is not working correctly then the level of glucose in the body will go up. As insulin is required to allow the glucose to the enter the cells of the body, the cells do not receive enough glucose and become starved.


Current statistics suggest that there are in excess of 3 million people who are diagnosed as diabetic. It is also estimated that there are at least 1 million more people who have diabetes, but do not know it. The number of people diagnosed as diabetic is higher now than in previous years.


Generally it is recognised that there are 2 main types of diabetes. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is a lot less common than type 2 and usually develops in children and young adults. It is currently thought that type 1 diabetes occurs as a result of the body’s immune system destroying the insulin producing cells. This results in them not be able to make insulin and the blood glucose level rising.

Type 2 diabetes is more common middle-age to old age and typically develops over the age of around 40. Although certain ethnics backgrounds are biologically more prone to diabetes at an earlier age. Typically people who are overweight are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes as the body has too much fat and more glucose is produced when it is not needed.

How can you ‘spot it’?

Typically someone who should be checked for diabetes would be someone who has any of the following symptoms:

  • increased thirst
  • passing more urine, particularly at night
  • unexplained/unexpected weightloss
  • blurred vision
  • those diagnosed with glaucoma
  • slow healing of wounds
  • extreme tiredness

People often ignore many of these signs and symptoms as being part of the natural ageing process. These symptoms tend to happen gradually over time, the person puts it down to ageing and does not get a diagnosis.

Undiagnosed diabetes, in the long term can cause heart problems, eye problems and kidney problems amongst other things.


A recent study from the The BMJ (formally British Medical Journal) has said that more than a third of adults in England are at high risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. This risk has tripled over the last 8 years. The study said that if action was not taken to reduce the risk level in adults, then there would be a significant rise in the amount of people with diabetes. Between 5 and 10% of people that are at high risk of diabetes go on to develop diabetes each year.

People with a high blood glucose level are at a higher risk of developing heart, kidney and eye problems. The finding came from an analysis of 20 000 people who took part in the study.

Source: http://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g3791

Do you know the 4 Ts of Type 1 diabetes? – Diabetes UK

See on Scoop.itFirst Aid Training

As many as one in four children and young people are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when they are in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) – a life-threatening condition that requires urgent medical attention. For children under five years old, it’s as many as one in three. It’s a frightening time for everyone involved.

That’s why we’ve launched a campaign on World Diabetes Day to raise awareness of the four most common symptoms of Type 1 diabetes.

We believe that everyone who knows a child, of any age, should be aware of the 4 Ts of Type 1 diabetes, remember them and know what to do if they spot them.

What are the 4 Ts?

Going to the toilet a lot, bed wetting by a previously dry child or heavier nappies in babies

Being really thirsty and not being able to quench the thirst

Feeling more tired than usual

Losing weight or looking thinner than usual

By making sure children and young people get a quick diagnosis and early treatment, we can avoid them becoming seriously ill with DKA.

What to do if a child shows signs of the 4 Ts

If your child has any of these signs and symptoms, you should take them straight to the doctor and insist on a test for Type 1 diabetes there and then.

All it takes is a quick and simple finger-prick blood test, which your GP can carry out straight away. If the result indicates Type 1 diabetes, the GP should refer the child to a specialist paediatric diabetes team the same day so they get immediate treatment to bring their diabetes under control and to prevent DKA.
See on www.diabetes.org.uk