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Basic Diabetes Information

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The cited text below is provided for educational/informational purposes only and is not intended for providing professional or medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult a physician.

Information below from the American Diabetes Association Website

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles.

Approximately 17 million people in the United States, or 6.2% of the population, have diabetes. While an estimated 11.1 million have been diagnosed, unfortunately, 5.9 million people (or one-third) are unaware that they have the disease.

There are three major types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes - Results from the body's failure to produce insulin, the hormone that "unlocks" the cells of the body, allowing glucose to enter and fuel them. It is estimated that 5-10% of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes - Results from insulin resistance (a condition in which the body fails to properly use insulin), combined with relative insulin deficiency. Approximately 90-95% (16 million) of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.
  • Pre-diabetes - Pre-diabetes is a condition that occurs when a person's blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that at least 16 million Americans have pre-diabetes, in addition to the 17 million with diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes - Gestational diabetes affects about 4% of all pregnant women - about 135,000 cases in the United States each year.

Blood Tests
The goal of blood glucose tests is to find out whether you have a very large amount of glucose in your blood. There are two types of tests: screening tests and diagnostic tests. Screening tests are performed on people who have no symptoms of diabetes. On the other hand, diagnostic tests are done to confirm a diagnosis that is already suspected from the patient's symptoms.

Screening tests are fast, easy to perform, and cheap. (Health fairs often offer screening tests, for example.) Screening tests require as little as a drop of blood from your fingertip and take only a minute or two to complete.

Most doctors don't screen everyone for diabetes during regular checkups. The chance of finding the disease in most people is just too low. But screening tests are useful for people who may be at risk for developing diabetes. People at risk include:

  • blood relatives of people with diabetes
  • women who have had gestational diabetes or who have had babies weighing 9 pounds or more at birth
  • African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders
  • people with a condition known as impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose (see below)
  • people with high blood pressure or very high blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels
    people who are obese
  • people 45 years or older

Pregnant women should be screened for gestational diabetes (diabetes that starts during pregnancy) between the 24th and 28th weeks if they are 25 years of age or older, less than 25 years of age and obese, if they have a family history of diabetes (parent or sibling), or if they are a member of an ethnic/racial group at high risk for diabetes (Hispanic-American, Native American, Asian-American, African-American, or Pacific Islander).

If you are 45 years or older, have your blood glucose level checked every 3 years. If you have risk factors, you may need to be tested more often.  

Information above from the American Diabetes Association Website

****The machine Island Drug uses in our Health Screenings for the Blood Glucose Test is the One Touch Ultra, which uses a very small drop of blood (1 microliter), and gives you results in 5 seconds. After your results are calculated a certified Island Drug Pharmacist will go over the results with you and help to answer any questions you may have

Information below from the American Diabetes Association Website

A1c - Know Your Value!

By Thomas A. Lincoln

This number can tell you how well you have been controlling your diabetes for the past two to three months. Do you know yours?

WHEN YOU HAVE DIABETES, your home blood glucose testing kit tells you what your level is at the moment you stick your finger to get a drop of blood to test. That's an essential tool for knowing how much you should eat or how much glucose-lowering medication you should be taking. But it doesn't tell the whole story. For example, your blood sugars (blood glucose) may be soaring too high following meals. And you know that you can't tell your blood glucose level by how you feel.

To get the whole story, you need to know how well you're doing over a longer period of time, extending from two to three months. Your hemoglobin A1c value provides just such a measure. It indicates your average blood glucose for that extended period, much like a "batting average" does for a professional baseball player. A first baseman may hit a few home runs and make a few errors in the field, but it is his batting average that his manager really watches.

Do you know your diabetes batting average? Do you know your hemoglobin A1c?

The Importance Of Hemoglobin A1cs

Your hemoglobin A1c percentage is important because it's the only way to know how well you are controlling your diabetes over time. Here's how it works:

A small portion of the glucose that circulates in your blood after being absorbed from your intestine also combines with hemoglobinā€”the red-colored protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen to the rest of your body. About 30 years ago, it was discovered that a small amount of glucose normally combines with the hemoglobin molecule. And it does so in direct proportion to the amount of glucose in your blood.

Once binding with hemoglobin A1c occurs, it remains until the individual red blood cells die, which usually occurs between two and three months. When your blood is analyzed for hemoglobin A1c, this value provides an estimate of your level of control over this time period.

A healthy person without diabetes will have an A1c value that ranges between 4 percent and 6 percent. If your diabetes is under good control, your A1c value should be below 8 percent. If you are doing especially well, your A1c value will be less than 7 percent and may even approach the normal level. The closer it is to this normal level, the better your diabetes is under control.

Because different laboratories use different techniques to measure the A1c value, there may be small differences in their actual values. The important thing is to use the same laboratory when comparing one measurement with another.

In the table at left, you can find how the average blood glucose expresses itself in an A1c value. (Normal blood glucose ranges from 60 to 110 mg/dl before meals and rarely exceeds 160 mg/dl after a big meal.) If, for example, you have an A1c value of 8 percent, it would mean that your average blood glucose would be about 180 mg/dl, which is too high and needs to be reduced.

HbA1c Level (%) Average Blood Glucose (mg/dl)
14 ....................... 360
13 ....................... 333
12 ....................... 300
11 ....................... 270
10 ....................... 240
9 ....................... 210
8 ....................... 180
7 ....................... 150
6 ....................... 120
5 ....................... 80

Information above from the American Diabetes Association Website

At our Island Drug Screenings we use the Metrika A1c Now Hemoglobin A1c Test. It involves taking a small blood sample from the fingertip, mixing it in a testing solution, and putting the resulting solution into the Metrika A1c Now machine, and in 8 minutes your A1c number is displayed. After your results are calculated a certified Island Drug Pharmacist will go over the results with you and help to answer any questions you may have.