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What Is Diabetes?

Making a Diagnosis

Diagnosing diabetes can be done with an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) or a fasting plasma glucose test (FPG). The fasting plasma glucose test is the preferred test for diagnosing this condition. Research has shown that the oral glucose tolerance test is more sensitive than the fasting plasma glucose test for diagnosing diabetes, but it is less convenient to administer. Diagnosing diabetes in pregnant women (a condition called gestational diabetes) is based on plasma glucose values measured during the OGTT.
 
(Click Diagnosing Diabetes for more information.)
 

How Is Diabetes Treated?

In the conventional medical approach, people with this condition learn to keep their blood glucose in as healthy a range as possible. They do this by:
 
  • Following a healthy food plan
  • Controlling their weight
  • Being physically active
  • Testing their blood glucose regularly.
     
Some people also need to take medicine, such as insulin injections or prescription diabetes pills.
 
When lifestyle changes and medical treatment are combined to rigorously maintain and control blood sugar in the normal range, managing type 2 diabetes minimizes the serious complications of the disease. This enables patients to lead full, productive lives.
 
(Click Diabetes Treatment for more information.)
 

Complications

Over time, the high blood glucose levels caused by diabetes can lead to complications in the:
 
  • Eyes
  • Blood vessels
  • Nerves
  • Kidneys
  • Feet
  • Teeth
  • Skin
  • Heart.
     
Such complications can be prevented or delayed by keeping blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides in a normal or close-to-normal range.
 
Some people develop a condition called insulin resistance or pre-diabetes before they develop type 2 diabetes. When insulin resistance is present, the body does not respond properly to the insulin it has released to lower blood glucose, so the pancreas releases more insulin to try to keep up with the excess glucose. If the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, over time, this leads to type 2 diabetes. Obesity, aging, and lack of exercise can all play a role in developing insulin resistance and heightening the risk for diabetes.
 
(Click Diabetes Complications for more information.)
Diabetes Tips for Seniors

Information on Diabetes

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