Diabetes is disease where the body is unable to produce enough (or any) insulin, does not properly use the insulin that is produced, or a combination of the two. When this occurs, the body becomes unable to process sugar from the blood into the cells, which leads to high blood sugar levels.
High blood sugar can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. A simple blood test – called the A1C test – can show whether you have type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, or are at risk for developing the disease in the future.
The most common types of diabetes include:
Type 1 Diabetes
When you have type 1 diabetes, your body makes little to no insulin whatsoever. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease; the cause is not fully understood, but it likely relates to genetics as well as environmental triggers.
Type 1 diabetes – formerly known as juvenile diabetes - is usually diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, but can surface at any age. It’s critical for people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes to take insulin every day.
Type 2 Diabetes
When you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin as efficiently as it should. This condition is the most common type of diabetes and is most prevalent among middle-aged and older adults.
Type 2 diabetes can be caused by a number of factors including obesity, poor diet and family history.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. While most cases of gestational diabetes disappear after giving birth, having gestational diabetes during pregnancy may increase your chances of getting type 2 diabetes in the future.
Diabetes may not cause any symptoms at all – especially in its early stages. When diabetes symptoms do appear, they may depend on which type of diabetes you have, your age and overall health.
The most common diabetes symptoms include:
Additional diabetes symptoms associated with type 1 diabetes include:
Even if you're not having diabetes symptoms, your doctor may perform a diabetes test if you have certain diabetes risk factors. The American Diabetes Association recommends the following individuals be screened for diabetes:
A variety of diabetes tests may be used to determine a diabetes diagnosis. These include:
An A1C test is a blood test used to determine your average blood glucose levels over the previous few months. It measures the percentage of blood sugar that is attached to hemoglobin in your red blood cells. If you're diagnosed with an A1C of 6.5% or higher, you may have diabetes.
Also referred to as the Random Plasma Glucose (RPG) test, this test measures your blood glucose levels when diabetes symptoms are present - without having to wait until after a fasting period.
Also referred to as the Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) test, this test measures your blood glucose levels at a given point in time after at least 8 hours of fasting.
This test checks your blood glucose levels twice: before and after drinking a sweet liquid containing a measured amount of glucose. Drinking a high glucose beverage tells your doctor how your body is processing glucose. An OGTT is most commonly performed to test for gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy.
If the results of your diabetes test show that you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, your doctor will work with you on a diabetes treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Diabetes treatment may include:
If you have pre diabetes symptoms, these changes may help with diabetes prevention.
Diabetes takes daily management, but it doesn’t need to take over your life. Whether you live in Green Bay, Milwaukee, Sheboygan, or elsewhere in eastern Wisconsin or northeastern Illinois, Aurora offers diabetes management classes, support groups and other resources – so you can live well with diabetes. If your health keeps you home, we offer skilled nursing and daily Telehealth monitoring. Aurora Health at Home can help you manage diabetes wherever you live.