Diabetes prevention starts with testing

Diabetes prevention starts with testing

February 6, 2023

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease characterised by high levels of glucose in the blood, often caused by problems with insulin production or functionality. Insulin is the hormone responsible for glucose absorption into cells. Therefore, any alteration in the amount of insulin produced or its functionality affects blood sugar (glucose) levels.

Diabetes is a highly prevalent disease. It is estimated that 5.6% of the population in Ireland is affected by this disease.

Symptoms of diabetes

There are different types of diabetes, including type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce insulin or produces an insufficient amount. It is also known as juvenile diabetes, as it often manifests in childhood or adolescence but can occur at any age. Type 1 diabetes is the least common among the types of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes

This form of diabetes is the most common and occurs in the majority of cases after the age of 45, but there are also cases of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents. It occurs when cells do not respond normally to insulin or when insulin does not function properly, causing an increase in blood sugar levels.

Having high blood sugar levels for a prolonged period can be harmful, and early diagnosis is important. Type 2 diabetes develops gradually, and it may take years before obvious symptoms appear.

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a stage that precedes diabetes, where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to reach diabetes levels. Prediabetes often progresses to type 2 diabetes, so it is important to know your sugar levels to detect any abnormalities in time.

How can I know if I have or will develop diabetes in the future?

If you have a family history of diabetes or are simply concerned about your health and want to monitor blood sugar levels to prevent future problems, the first step is to know your current condition.

There are different types of tests that can be used to assess the risk of diabetes or to determine if you are developing a prediabetic condition.

  • Fasting Blood Glucose Test: a test that measures blood sugar levels at the time of blood sampling.
  • Haemoglobin A1c Test (HbA1c): this test measures the amount of glycosylated haemoglobin, a variant of haemoglobin that forms when normal haemoglobin binds to sugar in the blood. Unlike the Fasting Blood Glucose Test, this test provides a retrospective view of blood sugar levels in the 90 days prior to the test and is important for detecting high blood sugar levels that could be an early signal of diabetes risk (prediabetes).
  • Genetic Diabetes Predisposition Test: this test analyses genetic predisposition to developing diabetes.
  • Glucose Tolerance Test or Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): It is a test that measures the trend of blood sugar levels by taking two samples, one at the beginning of the test and one two hours after drinking a sugary solution.

Remember, prevention is crucial. Take control of your health today and prioritise regular testing and monitoring of blood sugar levels. Being vigilant and proactive will allow you to effectively manage your health and ensure a healthier future.

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