Friday, 5 December 2008

Do you have diabetes and not know it?

Did you know that being over the age of 40 alone puts you at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes? Everybody over that age should get their blood sugar checked at least every three years.

More than 2 million Canadians and 23.6 million Americans have diabetes but at least a quarter of them don't know it!

Most people diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes.

If you're over the age of 40 and have any of the following risk factors, you're at a higher risk of developing diabetes and should have your blood sugar checked earlier and more often:

Overweight or obese,
Have a family history of diabetes,
Are a member of any of the following high-risk ethnic groups: African, Hispanic, Native American/Aboriginal, Asian American and South Asian, Pacific Islander,
Have high blood pressure or high cholesterol,
Had gestational diabetes when you were pregnant,
Gave birth to a baby that weighed more than 9lbs (4kg),
Been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, acanthosins nigricans or scizophrenia.

Click here to determine your risk for having diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes include:

Being very thristy,
Having to urinate frequently,
Weight change,
Low energy and fatigue,
Blurred vision,
Recurring infections,
Cuts that take time healing,
Tingling or numb hands and feet,
Trouble getting or maintaining an erection.

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.
If diabetes goes undiagnosed and untreated, you have a high risk of having a stroke or heart attack, of organ and nerve damage, of having eye problems than can lead to blindness, gum and mouth disease and skin disorders.

The good news is that all these complications can be avoided with early detection and treatment.

Visit the CDA and the ADA websites for more information and talk to your doctor to schedule your next blood test!


Anonymous said...

good post! I was very close to having diabetes when I would be out tree planting. I would eat sugary foods all day. Symptoms were starting to appear. Thirsty all the time, tired, tingling hands, frequent bathrooms breaks.
An amazing tool, and not too expensive, is a home blood sugar monitor.The monitor is kind of fun even if you don't have diabetes, to see how your blood sugar reacts to various meals. It's been thought that the key to a long life is keeping blood sugar as low as possible.

Sybil Hebert, RD said...

Thanks Anonymous... and Happy New Year!

That's interesting that you had symptoms of high blood sugar- did you see a doctor when you got back?
Remember that eating a large amount of carbohydrates (including sugar!) (or not exercising, being obese etc.) by itself will not cause diabetes. However, if you have a predisposition to diabetes, these things can trigger your pancreas to start producing less insulin- causing your blood sugar to be high.
There is such a thing as prediabetes and it's actually reversible. This is when your pancreas starts to become "tired" and produces less insulin, causing your blood sugar to rise, but can be reversed by losing weight, changing your diet etc. If you have or had prediabetes, it's a large risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes later on.

Your best bet it to go to a doctor and lab for a blood test.
There are 2 types of blood tests they can do: one is a fasting blood glucose test where you fast for 8-12 hours beforehand.
Normal values are 4-6 mmol/L.
Diabetes: 7.0 or over mmol/L

If your fasting blood glucose is 6.1 to 6.9, this indicates you have prediabetes (impaired fasting glucose).

However, even if your fasting glucose is normal, if you've experienced symptoms of high blood sugar and/or are at high risk, your doctor may request you get an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT).
In this case, you're given a large glucose load to drink to see how your pancreas reacts. 2 hours after drinking this very sweet drink, they check your blood glucose.
If it's 7.9-11.0 mmol/L, you have prediabetes (impaired glucose tolerance).
Over 11.1 mmol/L means you have type 2 diabetes.

A meter is a great tool to have but:

1. It can't be used to diagnose prediabetes or diabetes. If your numbers appear high, see your doctor.

2. Know times and numbers. If you test when you're fasting- first thing in the morning or before a meal and you do no have diabetes, your blood glucose should be between 4-6 mmol/L. If you decide to check after a meal, check 2 hours after having taken you first bite and if you don't have diabetes, your blood glucose should be below 7.8 mmol/L.
Note: A person without diabetes will never have a blood glucose greater than 7.8 at any time, regardless of what they've eaten.

3. Know your meter- ask your pharmacist to go over everything with you or read the manual!

4. Don't share your meter.

5. Check the expiry date on strips.

6. If your meter needs to be coded, make sure the test strip code matches the code on the meter.

7. Don't take the test strips out of the package until you're ready to check you blood sugar. They are very sensitive to light.

8. Don't leave your meter or strips in extreme temperatures.

9. Every time you get a new bottle of strips or if anything happens to your meter (ie. you drop it etc.), check your meter with control solution (ask your pharmacist or call the number on the back of your meter).

10. When you get your blood sugar tested in a lab, bring your meter and do a test too, to compare results. There should be no more than a 20% difference (but check your manual for details).

11. Meters should not be used for more than 2 years. Call the number at the back of your meter to ask the company to send you a new one.

12. You shouldn't pay for your meter- they make money by selling you the strips!

13. Always wash your hands before checking your blood glucose- your meter will read the sugar from food residue on your fingers! If you use alcohol (ie Purell), wait for it to dry completely first.

14. Call the customer information number on the back of your meter with any questions.

Have fun!