Diabetes is one of the most common chronic illnesses that patients face; it affects millions of people in this country. The staff at Kansas Medical Associates in Wichita, Kansas, help their patients understand their disease and learn to manage it. Diabetes is a life changer, but making these changes can help you live a longer healthier life. Call Kansas Medical Associates today and get your diabetes under control, or schedule your appointment online.
Diabetes is a term that covers conditions affecting how the body utilizes blood sugar. Sugar, or glucose, is what fuels the cells, but there is a complex mechanism behind its use. Insulin works like a key to open cell membranes and allow glucose in.
When a person has diabetes, something goes wrong with this process. For some, the body stops producing insulin, so there is no key to unlock the door and sugar just circulates in the body instead of fueling the cells. With other forms of diabetes, the cells become resistant to the insulin. They don't recognize it as a key, so membranes fail to open to the circulating sugar.
There are three types of this disease:
Type 1 usually starts when the patient is younger, although it can happen at any time. Damage to the pancreas means it stops producing insulin or doesn't produce enough of it. Type 2 is usually associated with aging and cell resistance to insulin.
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy. The placenta produces a hormone that makes cells resistant to insulin, but as that hormone disappears after childbirth the problem resolves itself.
Age, weight and family history will top the list of risk factors for all forms of diabetes. Other possible factors include:
It is not always clear why some people develop diabetes.
Testing blood sugar levels is one way to detect the possibility of diabetes. A more advanced lab test is the A1C. This blood test looks at the average blood sugar level over the past three months. Specifically, it measures the percentage of blood sugar that is attached to the red blood cells. An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher in two separate tests is the diagnostic criteria for diabetes. Other diagnostic lab tests include:
They all offer clues to the patient’s processing of glucose and their risk for diabetes.
Your doctor will also look for other conditions that affect the health of diabetic patients, such as thyroid disease.