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Diabetes Diagnostic and Management

All about diabetes and it's treatments

What is diabetes?

Diabetes diagnostic and management is one of our specialties at Star Family Medicine in Fairfax
Diabetes means that your blood sugar is too high. Your blood always has some sugar in it because the body uses sugar for energy; it's the fuel that keeps you going. But too much sugar in the blood is not good for your health.
Your body changes most of the food you eat into sugar. Your blood takes the sugar to the cells throughout your body. The sugar needs insulin to get into the body's cells. Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas, an organ near the stomach. The pancreas releases insulin into the blood. Insulin helps the sugar from food get into body cells. If your body does not make enough insulin or the insulin does not work right, the sugar can't get into the cells, so it stays in the blood. This makes your blood sugar level high, causing you to have diabetes.
If not controlled, diabetes can lead to blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputations (having a toe or foot removed, for example), and nerve damage. In women, diabetes can cause problems during pregnancy and make it more likely that your baby will be born with birth defects.

What is pre-diabetes?

Pre-diabetes means your blood sugar is higher than normal but lower than the diabetes range. It also means you are at risk of getting type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The good news is: You can reduce the risk of getting diabetes and even return to normal blood sugar levels with modest weight loss and moderate physical activity. If you are told you have pre-diabetes, have your blood glucose (sugar) checked again in 1 to 2 years.

What are the different types of diabetes?

The three main types of diabetes are:

Who gets diabetes?

About 20 million Americans have diabetes, about half of whom are women. As many as one third do not know they have diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes occurs at about the same rate in men and women, but it is more common in Whites than in minorities.
Type 2 diabetes is more common in older people, mainly in people who are overweight. It is more common in African Americans, Hispanic Americans/Latinos, and American Indians.

What causes diabetes?

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes — The exact causes of both types of diabetes are still not known. Type 1 diabetes tends to show up after a person is exposed to a trigger, such as a virus, which can start an attack on the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. There is no one cause for type 2 diabetes, but it seems to run in families, and most people who get type 2 diabetes are overweight.
Gestational diabetes — Changing hormones and weight gain are part of a healthy pregnancy, but these changes make it hard for your body to keep up with its need for insulin. When that happens, your body doesn't get the energy it needs from the foods you eat.

Am I at risk for diabetes?

Things that can put you at risk for diabetes include:

Should I be tested for diabetes?

If you're at least 45-years-old, you should get tested for diabetes, and then you should be tested again every 3 years. If you're 45 or older and overweight (Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) you may want to get tested more often. If you're younger than 45, overweight, and have one or more of the risk factors listed in "Am I at Risk for Diabetes?" you should get tested now. Ask your doctor for a fasting blood glucose test or an oral glucose tolerance test. Your doctor will tell you if you have normal blood glucose (blood sugar), pre-diabetes, or diabetes.

What are the signs of diabetes?

If you have one or more of these signs, see your doctor.

How can I take care of myself if I have diabetes?

Many people with diabetes live healthy and full lives. By following your doctor's instructions and eating right, you can too. Here are the things you'll need to do to keep your diabetes in check:
Talk to your doctor about other things you can do to take good care of yourself. Taking care of your diabetes can help prevent serious problems in your eyes, kidneys, nerves, gums and teeth, and blood vessels.

How can I take care of myself if I have gestational diabetes?

Taking care of yourself when you have gestational diabetes is very much like taking care of yourself when you have other types of diabetes. But it can be a little scary when you're pregnant and you also have a new condition to take care of. Don't worry. Many women who've had gestational diabetes have gone on to have healthy babies. Here are the things you'll need to do:

Is there a cure for diabetes?

There is no cure for diabetes at this time. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is doing research in hopes of finding cures for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Many different approaches to curing diabetes are being studied, and researchers are making progress.

Is there anything I can do to prevent diabetes?

Yes. The best way to prevent diabetes is to make some lifestyle changes:
Source: Office on Women's Health in the Department of Health and Human Services.