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Diabetes Explained

Diabetes Explained

More than 360,000 Arkansans live with diabetes, yet the condition remains widely misunderstood – and with the prevalence of the disease in our state, that needs to change. Read on to learn more about diabetes, the symptoms, the treatment options and who is at risk of developing the disease.

What is diabetes?

Insulin is a hormone created by your pancreas that regulates your blood glucose, or blood sugar, by delivering it to your cells to be converted into energy. When your body is low on or does not produce insulin, glucose builds up in your blood stream, causing diabetes.

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body produces no or very little insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the body is simply insulin-resistant.

What are the symptoms?

Those with diabetes often experience:

  • Frequent urination
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent hunger
  • Extreme thirst

Who is at risk?

You are considered at risk for type 1 diabetes if you:

  • Have a family history of type 1 diabetes
  • Are a child or adolescent

You are considered at risk for type 2 diabetes if you:

  • Have high blood sugar
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Have a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Live a sedentary lifestyle
  • Are over age 45
  • Have a history of gestational diabetes

How is diabetes diagnosed?

Diabetes can be diagnosed through several different tests, including:

A1C

The A1C test is a blood test that determines your average blood sugar level over two to three months. Diabetes is diagnosed if your A1C is greater or equal to 6.5%.

Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG)

An FPG test measures your fasting glucose level after at least an eight hour fast. If your fasting blood glucose is greater or equal to 126 mg/dl, diabetes is diagnosed.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)

The OGTT evaluates how your body processes glucose by checking your blood glucose levels over a two-hour period after you consume a sweet drink given to you by your physician. Diabetes is diagnosed if your blood glucose is greater or equal to 200 mg/dl at the end of the two-hour test.

Random (or Casual) Plasma Glucose Test

A random plasma glucose test is a blood test conducted when you have severe diabetes symptoms, regardless of time of day. Diabetes is diagnosed if your blood glucose is greater or equal to 200 mg/dl at the end of the two-hour test.

What treatment options are available?

Those with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels through insulin injections, an insulin pump and/or medication. Some cases of type 2 diabetes can be controlled, and even reversed, through diet and exercise alone.

Diabetes can be complicated and difficult to manage, but through ample support and resources, Baptist Health helps Arkansans with the disease live their happiest, healthiest life. If you want to learn more about the disease, or are concerned you or your loved one may be diabetic, visit our diabetes page or request an appointment with one of our specialists.