Living with Diabetes: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatments
Nov 19, 2021
Looking for diabetes testing in Wichita, Kansas? HealthCore Clinic can help. We understand that diabetes testing and well-controlled blood sugar helps to minimize diabetes complications, including kidney damage, eye damage, and nerve damage in areas such as the feet and legs. Regular blood sugar checks are vital to making decisions on how to treat diabetes. People with a diabetes diagnosis must work with their doctor to set blood sugar level goals. This is the best way to know how you are doing and what your numbers mean on a daily basis. People with diabetes need a lot of information to really take control of their condition and start managing diabetes through diabetes treatments.
Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant). More than 122 million Americans are living with diabetes (34.2 million) or prediabetes (88 million).
There is no known cure for type 2 diabetes. But it can be controlled. And in some cases, it goes into remission. For some people, a diabetes-healthy lifestyle is enough to control their blood sugar levels. For others, it’s important to learn how to live with diabetes and manage your symptoms.
10 Symptoms of Diabetes
There are three types of diabetes. People who have type 1 diabetes may also have nausea, vomiting, or stomach pains. Type 1 diabetes symptoms can develop in just a few weeks or months and can be severe. Type 1 diabetes usually starts when you’re a child, teen, or young adult but can happen at any age.
Type 2 diabetes symptoms often take several years to develop. Some people don’t notice any symptoms at all. Type 2 diabetes usually starts when you’re an adult, though more and more children and teens are developing it. Because symptoms are hard to spot, it’s important to know the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Make sure to visit your doctor if you have any of them.
Gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) usually doesn’t have any symptoms. If you’re pregnant, your doctor should test you for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. If needed, you can make changes to protect your health and your baby’s health.
If you have any of the following diabetes symptoms, see your doctor or medical provider about getting your blood sugar tested:
- Urinate (pee) a lot, often at night
- Are very thirsty
- Lose weight without trying
- Are very hungry
- Have blurry vision
- Have numb or tingling hands or feet
- Feel very tired
- Have very dry skin
- Have sores that heal slowly
- Have more infections than usual
Diabetes Diagnosis Criteria
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes often appear suddenly and are often the reason for checking blood sugar levels. Because symptoms of other types of diabetes and prediabetes come on more gradually or may not be evident, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has recommended screening guidelines to get a diabetes diagnosis. The ADA recommends that the following people be screened for diabetes:
- Anyone with a body mass index higher than 25 (23 for Asian Americans), regardless of age, who has additional risk factors, such as high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, a sedentary lifestyle, a history of polycystic ovary syndrome or heart disease, and who has a close relative with diabetes.
- Anyone older than age 45 is advised to receive an initial blood sugar screening, and then, if the results are normal, to be screened every three years thereafter.
- Women who have had gestational diabetes are advised to be screened for diabetes every three years.
- Anyone who has been diagnosed with prediabetes is advised to be tested every year.
Testing for Diabetes
You’ll need to get your blood sugar tested to find out for sure if you have prediabetes or type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes. Testing is simple, and results are usually available quickly. If you are looking for “diabetes testing near me,” you’ve come to the right place. HealthCore Clinic can help.
The A1C test measures your average blood sugar level over the past 2 or 3 months. An A1C below 5.7% is normal, between 5.7 and 6.4% indicates you have prediabetes, and 6.5% or higher indicates you have diabetes.
Fasting Blood Sugar Test
This measures your blood sugar after an overnight fast (not eating). A fasting blood sugar level of 99 mg/dL or lower is normal, 100 to 125 mg/dL indicates you have prediabetes, and 126 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes.
Glucose Tolerance Test
This measures your blood sugar before and after you drink a liquid that contains glucose. You’ll fast (not eat) overnight before the test and have your blood drawn to determine your fasting blood sugar level. Then you’ll drink the liquid and have your blood sugar level checked 1 hour, 2 hours, and possibly 3 hours afterward. At 2 hours, a blood sugar level of 140 mg/dL or lower is considered normal, 140 to 199 mg/dL indicates you have prediabetes, and 200 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes.
Random Blood Sugar Test
This measures your blood sugar at the time you’re tested. You can take this test at any time and don’t need to fast (not eat) first. A blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes.
Diabetes Treatments and Managment
If your test results show you have prediabetes, ask your doctor or nurse if there is a lifestyle change program offered through the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program in your community. You can also search for an online or in-person program. Having prediabetes puts you at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes, but participating in the program can lower your risk by as much as 58% (71% if you’re over age 60).
How to Manage Diabetes
Lifestyle management is a fundamental aspect of diabetes care and includes diabetes self-management education (DSME), diabetes self-management support (DSMS), nutrition therapy, physical activity, smoking cessation counseling, and psychosocial care. Patients and care providers should focus together on how to optimize lifestyle from the time of the initial comprehensive medical evaluation, throughout all subsequent evaluations and follow-up, and during the assessment of complications and management of comorbid conditions in order to enhance diabetes care.
Keeping your blood sugar levels within the range recommended by your doctor can be challenging. That’s because many things make your blood sugar levels change, sometimes unexpectedly. Following are some factors that can affect your blood sugar levels.
Eating Healthy Foods
Healthy eating is a cornerstone of healthy living — with or without diabetes. But if you have diabetes, you need to know how foods affect your blood sugar levels. It’s not only the type of food you eat but also how much you eat and the combinations of food types you eat.
Learn about carbohydrate counting and portion sizes. A key to many diabetes management plans is learning how to count carbohydrates. Carbohydrates often have the biggest impact on your blood sugar levels. For people taking mealtime insulin, it’s important to know the amount of carbohydrates in your food, so you get the proper insulin dose.
Learn what portion size is appropriate for each food type. Simplify your meal planning by writing down portions for foods you eat often. Use measuring cups or a scale to ensure proper portion size and an accurate carbohydrate count.
Make every meal well-balanced. As much as possible, plan for every meal to have a good mix of starches, fruits and vegetables, proteins, and fats. Pay attention to the types of carbohydrates you choose.
Some carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, are better for you than others. These foods are low in carbohydrates and have fiber that helps keep your blood sugar levels more stable. Talk to your doctor, nurse, or dietitian about the best food choices and the appropriate balance of food types.
Coordinate your meals and medications. Too little food in proportion to your diabetes medications — especially insulin — may result in dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Too much food may cause your blood sugar level to climb too high (hyperglycemia). Talk to your diabetes health care team about how to best coordinate meal and medication schedules.
Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages. Sugar-sweetened beverages tend to be high in calories and offer little nutrition. And because they cause blood sugar to rise quickly, it’s best to avoid these types of drinks if you have diabetes.
The exception is if you are experiencing a low blood sugar level. Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda, juice, and sports drinks can be used as an effective treatment for quickly raising blood sugar that is too low.
Exercise Helps with Diabetes
Physical activity is another important part of your diabetes management plan. When you exercise, your muscles use sugar (glucose) for energy. Regular physical activity also helps your body use insulin more efficiently.
These factors work together to lower your blood sugar level. The more strenuous your workout, the longer the effect lasts. But even light activities — such as housework, gardening, or being on your feet for extended periods — can improve your blood sugar.
Talk to your doctor about an exercise plan. Ask your doctor about what type of exercise is appropriate for you. In general, most adults should get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity. Aim for about 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a day on most days of the week.
If you’ve been inactive for a long time, your doctor may want to check your overall health before advising you. He or she can recommend the right balance of aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises.
Keep an exercise schedule. Talk to your doctor about the best time of day for you to exercise so that your workout routine is coordinated with your meal and medication schedules.
Know your numbers. Talk to your doctor about what blood sugar levels are appropriate for you before you begin to exercise.
Check your blood sugar level. Check your blood sugar level before, during, and after exercise, especially if you take insulin or medications that lower blood sugar. Exercise can lower your blood sugar levels even up to a day later, especially if the activity is new to you, or if you’re exercising at a more intense level. Be aware of warning signs of low blood sugar, such as feeling shaky, weak, tired, hungry, lightheaded, irritable, anxious, or confused.
If you use insulin and your blood sugar level is below 90 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 5.0 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), have a small snack before you start exercising to prevent a low blood sugar level.
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or other fluids while exercising because dehydration can affect blood sugar levels.
Be prepared. Always have a small snack or glucose tablets with you during exercise in case your blood sugar level drops too low. Wear a medical identification bracelet.
Adjust your diabetes treatment plan as needed. If you take insulin, you may need to reduce your insulin dose before exercising and monitor your blood sugar closely for several hours after intense activity as sometimes delayed hypoglycemia can occur. Your doctor can advise you on appropriate changes in your medication. You may also need to adjust treatment if you’ve increased your exercise routine.
Medication for Managing Diabetes
Insulin and other diabetes medications are designed to lower your blood sugar levels when diet and exercise alone aren’t sufficient for managing diabetes. But the effectiveness of these medications depends on the timing and size of the dose. Medications you take for conditions other than diabetes also can affect your blood sugar levels.
Store insulin properly. Insulin that’s improperly stored or past its expiration date may not be effective. Insulin is especially sensitive to extremes in temperature.
Report problems to your doctor. If your diabetes medications cause your blood sugar level to drop too low or if it’s consistently too high, the dosage or timing may need to be adjusted.
Be cautious with new medications. If you’re considering an over-the-counter medication or your doctor prescribes a new drug to treat another condition — such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol — ask your doctor or pharmacist if the medication may affect your blood sugar levels.
Sometimes an alternate medication may be recommended. Always check with your doctor before taking any new over-the-counter medication, so you know how it may impact your blood sugar level.
Planning for Diabetes Sick Days
When you’re sick, your body produces stress-related hormones that help your body fight the illness, but they also can raise your blood sugar level. Changes in your appetite and normal activity also may complicate diabetes management.
Plan ahead. Work with your health care team to create a sick-day plan. Include instructions on what medications to take, how often to measure your blood sugar and urine ketone levels, how to adjust your medication dosages, and when to call your doctor.
Continue to take your diabetes medication. However, if you’re unable to eat because of nausea or vomiting, contact your doctor. In these situations, you may need to adjust your insulin dose or temporarily reduce or withhold short-acting insulin or diabetes medication because of a risk of hypoglycemia. However, do not stop your long-acting insulin. During times of illness, it is important to monitor your blood sugars frequently, and your doctor may instruct you also to check your urine for the presence of ketones.
Stick to your diabetes meal plan. If you can, eating as usual will help you control your blood sugar levels. Keep a supply of foods that are easy on your stomach, such as gelatin, crackers, soups, and applesauce.
Drink lots of water or other fluids that don’t add calories, such as tea, to make sure you stay hydrated. If you’re taking insulin, you may need to sip sugar-sweetened beverages, such as juice or a sports drink, to keep your blood sugar level from dropping too low.
How Alcohol Use Impacts Diabetes
The liver normally releases stored sugar to counteract falling blood sugar levels. But if your liver is busy metabolizing alcohol, your blood sugar level may not get the boost it needs from your liver. Alcohol can result in low blood sugar shortly after you drink it and for as long as 24 hours afterward.
Get your doctor’s OK to drink alcohol. Alcohol can aggravate diabetes complications, such as nerve damage and eye disease. But if your diabetes is under control and your doctor agrees, an occasional alcoholic drink is fine.
Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as no more than one drink a day for women of any age and men over 65 years old and two drinks a day for men under 65. One drink equals a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.
Don’t drink alcoholic beverages on an empty stomach. If you take insulin or other diabetes medications, be sure to eat before you drink, or drink with a meal to prevent low blood sugar.
Choose your drinks carefully. Light beer and dry wines have fewer calories and carbohydrates than do other alcoholic drinks. If you prefer mixed drinks, sugar-free mixers — such as diet soda, diet tonic, club soda, or seltzer — won’t raise your blood sugar.
Tally your calories. Remember to include the calories from any alcohol you drink in your daily calorie count. Ask your doctor or dietitian how to incorporate calories and carbohydrates from alcoholic drinks into your diet plan.
Check your blood sugar level before bed. Because alcohol can lower blood sugar levels long after you’ve had your last drink, check your blood sugar level before you go to sleep. If your blood sugar isn’t between 100 and 140 mg/dL (5.6 and 7.8 mmol/L), have a snack before bed to counter a drop in your blood sugar level.
Managing Stress with Diabetes
If you’re stressed, the hormones your body produces in response to prolonged stress may cause a rise in your blood sugar level. Additionally, it may be harder to closely follow your usual diabetes management routine if you’re under a lot of extra pressure.
Look for patterns. Log your stress level on a scale of 1 to 10 each time you log your blood sugar level. A pattern may soon emerge.
Take control. Once you know how stress affects your blood sugar level, fight back. Learn relaxation techniques, prioritize your tasks and set limits. Whenever possible, avoid common stressors. Exercise can often help relieve stress and lower your blood sugar level.
Get help. Learn new strategies for coping with stress. You may find that working with a psychologist or clinical social worker can help you identify stressors, solve stressful problems or learn new coping skills.
The more you know about factors that influence your blood sugar level, the more you can anticipate fluctuations — and plan accordingly. If you’re having trouble keeping your blood sugar level in your target range, ask your diabetes health care team for help.
Diabetes Testing in Wichita
Scheduling Diabetes Testing Near Me
If you are looking for diabetes testing in Wichita, HealthCore Clinic can help. You can schedule a diabetic visit or Hemoglobin A1C test at HealthCore Clinic by calling (316) 691-0249 or using our online contact form. HealthCore Clinic has Diabetic Health Workers who work with your provider as a member of your integrated care team. We understand that managing your glucose is an important part of controlling diabetes, it can help prevent serious health problems such as stroke, heart attack, blindness, and loss of a limb or kidney failure. HealthCore Clinic is here to help you and your provider achieve your diabetic treatment goals.
Diabetic Health Workers
A Diabetic Health Worker is an integrated member of your health care team at HealthCore Clinic who can help with a number of things, free of cost. Some of the things our Diabetic Health Workers can help with include:
- TRANSPORTATION: We can coordinate and provide transportation to and from your HealthCore Clinic appointments.
- PRESCRIPTIONS: We will assist you in finding lower-cost medications for your diabetic control.
- REMINDERS: We will contact you when you are due for labs and/or tests.
- REFERRALS: Any referrals made by your provider, we will be at your service to help.
- FOOD: If you do not have adequate access to food or need assistance with your diet, we will help you.
- OTHER: Any other barriers that you might have to see your provider, we will help you.
For patients looking for diabetes testing in Wichita or need to contact their provider, nurse, or member of your integrated health team at HealthCore Clinic, they can call (316 691-0249 and speak with a Diabetic Health Worker directly. They are here to take any requests and messages to ensure patients get to their provider and integrated care team as fast as possible.