What is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus (diabetes) is a disorder characterized by a higher than normal blood glucose or sugar levels (hyperglycemia).

What are the types of Diabetes?

The major types of diabetes are:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Other types

Why does blood sugar remain high in certain persons?

Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas (a gland which lies behind the stomach), which normally controls the levels of glucose in the blood.

For glucose to leave the blood stream and enter cells, where it is burned to provide energy, insulin is required. So, without insulin, cells are deprived of glucose and energy, and the level of glucose in the blood rises.

Persons who have a deficiency, either in the production of, or, in the usage of insulin, have elevated levels of blood glucose.

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes, also called insulin-dependent diabetes, occurs when the pancreas cannot make insulin.

Although type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it can also develop in adults.

Treatment for type 1 involves taking insulin, which is injected through the skin.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

This is by far the most common form of diabetes, occurring in 95% of adult cases. In type 2 diabetes, the body either resists the effects of insulin, or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels.

Treatment for type 2 diabetes involves losing weight, eating well, and exercise to manage the disease. If it is not enough to manage sugar levels, then diabetic medicine or insulin might be necessary.

How is Diabetes detected?

Diabetes is detected by estimating glucose level in the blood. The test is best conducted on the blood plasma of an individual. The diagnosis is confirmed by performing the Modified OGTT (Oral Glucose Tolerance Test).

How is Diabetes diagnosed?

The older practice of diagnosing diabetes by estimating a fasting sample, followed by five samples collected at half hourly intervals known as OGTT (Oral Glucose Tolerance Test), has now been replaced by a simpler version known as Modified OGTT. This entails only two needle pricks to the patient, one under fasting, and the other 2 hours after 75 grams of glucose is taken.

The results obtained can be compared to the WHO recommended values for the diagnosis of Diabetes Mellitus (DM), Impaired Fasting Glycemia (IFG) or
Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT).

Are there any special conditions for taking this test?

Yes. Before taking OGTT for the confirmation of Diabetes Mellitus, you should be consuming a normal diet containing of more than 150 grams of carbohydrates, for at least 3 days prior to the test.

Can you drink water before a glucose test?

You cannot eat or drink anything (other than a few sips of water), for 10 – 12 hours before the test.

What are the different types of blood samples on which glucose can be estimated?

Blood consists of cells, and a watery part called plasma. Most advanced laboratories use plasma for the estimation of glucose, hence the result is known as plasma glucose. A chemical is added to the sample tube to stop the utilization of sugar by the cells, so that the glucose level does not fall when stored for a few hours.

The term blood glucose is used to indicate the estimation of glucose from whole blood, whether obtained from a vein (venous blood), or by a finger prick (capillary blood).

What type of sample is used in home monitoring machines?

Since blood in a home monitoring machine is obtained by a finger prick, capillary whole blood is used for estimating glucose in these machines.

Do the glucose values obtained by the home monitoring machines correlate with those obtained from the laboratories?

No. The values for capillary whole blood, venous whole blood, and plasma are different.

What do the terms IFG and IGT stand for, and what is their significance?

A person whose plasma glucose levels comes within the IFG (Impaired Fasting Glycemia) or Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) categories is not diabetic, but these values are not normal either.
These values are pre-diabetic, or, in other words, the person having these values is more prone to become diabetic. Such persons should take utmost care by regulating their diet, and do regular exercise so that their conversion into overt diabetics is prolonged as much as possible.

What is HbA1c and how does it help persons with diabetes?

The term HbA1c refers to glycated hemoglobin. It develops when hemoglobin,a protein within red blood cells, joins with glucose in the blood, becoming ‘glycated’. By measuring glycated hemoglobin or HbA1c, clinicians are able to get an overall picture of what the average blood sugar levels have been over a period of weeks or months.
Updated: September, 2018
All information has been presented for better understanding and general information purposes only.Maximum care has been taken for its authenticity, however it should not be considered as comprehensive or complete. The information provided is not intended as a means of diagnosing a health problem or determining treatment. Therefore, it is not meant as a substitute for the advice provided by your doctor.