Symptoms and Tests for Diabetes

Despite type 2 diabetes being a quite common disease, a lot of people are not sure exactly what diabetes is. This article will cover the common diabetes symptoms, signs of diabetes and the difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas, a lesser-known organ that sits near the liver and the stomach. One of the most important jobs of the pancreas is to secrete insulin which is the hormone that stores any extra sugar (glucose) in the body away in cells for later use.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that results in the pancreas not secreting enough insulin, is often genetic and comes on at a younger age in people who are not typically overweight.

Type 2 diabetes is much more common in men than women and also often has a younger age of onset in men. This younger age of onset also increases the chances of the diabetes leading to other health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, nerve damage such as peripheral neuropathy, erectile dysfunction , kidney disease, blindness, and leg amputation.

The risk factors for type 2 diabetes are:

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Being overweight and having an elevated waist circumference (for Caucasian males with a waist circumference over 94cm, Asian males with a waist circumference over 90cm and all women with a waist circumference over 80cm).
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Having a high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Having a family history (the closer the relative and the younger the onset the higher the risk)
  • Increasing age (risk increases from age 35 on)
  • Being a male
  • Having a previously elevated blood glucose level including during gestational diabetes
    not eating adequate amounts of vegetables and fruit
  • Asian, Middle Eastern, North African or Southern European descent

Diabetes symptoms may include:

  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Blurred vision

Carrying extra weight leads to the pancreas struggling to keep up with the supply of insulin, leading to a high blood sugar level. Whilst sugar in the blood stream is vital to be alive, too much of it is very toxic to the body. As such, diabetes causes damaging effects to every system in your body.

Testing for Diabetes

There may be no symptoms or signs of diabetes and so a screening test (fasting glucose blood test) is used to check for diabetes where appropriate based on risk factors in our history. Your GP will be able to explain when a test is required. The Australia Diabetes Risk Calculator is a great way to determine if a diabetes test may be necessary. You can perform your own risk assessment online here.

This screening test can also be done during an appointment with your GP and then a referral for a diabetes test can provided at the time where appropriate.

Speak with your doctor about your risk of diabetes and what you can do to help prevent or manage any symptoms of type 2 diabetes.

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