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Blood Glucose Test Helps Spot Diabetes Risk

Testing for blood glucose, possibly referred to as diabetes screening, could be critically important. Diabetes is potentially life-threatening, yet it's estimated that half of those living with this disease are not aware of it.

Unfortunately, South Carolina has one of the highest rates of Type 2 diabetes in the United States. Studies show that diabetes is more common in African-Americans, more prevalent among women in general, and in the South, is most common among women 64 and older.

About blood glucose (blood sugar)

Glucose levels in the bloodstream are measured to determine whether an individual is at risk for developing diabetes or has the disease. Blood glucose levels vary according to how long the person has fasted before being tested. After fasting for 12 hours:

  • Normal glucose level is below 100 mg/dL (milligrams per 10th of a liter of blood).
  • Prediabetes is 100-125 mg/dL.
  • Diabetes is 126 or higher mg/dL.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that does not allow the body to produce or properly utilize insulin. Insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas, is essential for converting the foods we consume into glucose. Glucose supplies the energy we need for daily life.

The term prediabetes describes blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet indicative of full-blown diabetes. Left untreated, most people with prediabetes will go on to develop diabetes within 10 years.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 requires daily insulin injections. Type 2 can be managed though proper diet and exercise.

Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in persons under age 30, appearing during childhood and adolescence. Warning symptoms occur suddenly and require immediate medical attention. They include:

  • Frequent urination and unusual thirst.
  • Extreme hunger.
  • Rapid weight loss.
  • Irritability, nausea and vomiting.

Type 2 diabetes is more common. It usually develops around age 45 and later in those who are overweight. As childhood obesity has become more common, it also has been occurring more often in younger people. Type 2 often develops gradually and with few symptoms. However, warning signs may include:

  • Frequent urination and unusual thirst.
  • Weight gain or loss.
  • Low energy, drowsiness or fatigue.
  • Blurred vision or dizziness.
  • Frequent infections/dry skin.
  • Tingling and numbness of the feet.
  • Family history of diabetes.

Potential Consequences of Diabetes

Undetected and/or untreated diabetes can lead to a dangerously high buildup of blood sugar levels. This can lead to heart disease and/or kidney disease, stroke, blindness, nerve damage and even limb amputations due to gangrene.

Screening Recommendations:

American Diabetes Association guidelines suggest testing for everyone 45 and older. If no risks are apparent, then testing should occur every three years.

Screening also is recommended for younger adults who have any of these risk factors:

  • They are obese and/or physically inactive.
  • They have a parent or sibling with diabetes.
  • They are members of a high-risk ethnic population (Hispanic, African/Asian-American, Native American).
  • They have delivered a baby weighing more than 9 pounds or have a history of gestational diabetes.
  • They have hypertension, with a blood pressure reading above 140/90.
  • Their triglyceride level is 250 mg/dL or more and/or a HDL cholesterol is 35mg/dL or less.
  • They have polycystic ovary disease.
  • They have been diagnosed with prediabetes.
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