If you or someone in your family has a high body mass index, type 2 diabetes, leads a sedentary lifestyle, and is finding it difficult to get exercise, read this carefully. You can avoid falling prey to a host of health complications by walking straight to a diagnostic lab near you!
Diabetes and India - Shocking facts
There are more than 79 million people with known diabetes in India as of 2018. There are many more that have undiagnosed diabetes, prediabetes, and people that are suffering from the complications of diabetes.
Diabetes has really become a silent assassin that causes numerous hospitalizations, countless cases of vision loss, end-stage kidney disease, foot amputations, and cardiovascular diseases. However, many of these conditions can be avoided with preventive care that first begins with periodical screening. Regular tests at a diagnostic centre near you might help avoid serious complications.
- More than 80% of fatalities that occur from cardiovascular diseases arise from ischemic heart disease and stroke. Diabetes is a leading cause for these conditions
- Most heart diseases arise from poor dietary choices, high cholesterol levels, and high fasting blood glucose levels
- Diabetes is the fifth leading cause of blindness and research suggests that 18% of the population with diabetes in India have diabetic retinopathy
- Diabetes and high blood pressure are leading causes for end-stage kidney disease
- It is said that more than 7% of people with diabetes suffer from distressing pain and an irritating feeling of pins and needles. Diabetic neuropathy leads to diabetic foot, a major cause for non-traumatic foot amputation
Why worry about diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that is characterized by high blood glucose levels. This can occur due to the lack of availability of insulin which assists glucose to enter into the tissues to provide energy. Diabetes also occurs when the tissues of the body are unable to respond to insulin and unable to take in the glucose. Both lead to high blood sugar levels.
With constant high blood sugar levels, there is glucose toxicity. Over a period of time, high blood sugar levels lead to damage of the small blood vessels and the nerves. All the small blood vessels that supply nutrients to vital organs like the heart, kidneys, eyes, and other parts are damaged. This directly results in damage to those organs.
Diabetes also affects the nerves of the body. This leads to many complex conditions called diabetic neuropathy, and autonomic diabetic neuropathy. In diabetic neuropathy, the peripheral nerves that control the sensations of heat, cold, and pressure are affected. This leads to diabetic foot problems.
When diabetes affects the autonomic nerves that control involuntary functions like heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and other vital functions, it leads to a condition called autonomic diabetic neuropathy. This can lead to many heart diseases, gastric issues, and a host of other complications.
That is why management of diabetes is very important in order to maintain longevity, and a good quality of life. In fact, many people with diabetes have successfully been able to avoid these conditions and lead a healthy life.
How to avoid complications in diabetes?
Management of diabetes mainly concentrates on medical nutrition therapy, self-monitoring, and periodical screenings. Controlling blood sugar levels and maintaining them in target ranges is vital to reduce the risk of major diabetes complications. For this, one has to follow the medication regimen as advised by diabetes doctors, and endocrinologists.
Taking medications as per the doctor’s advice, getting adequate physical exercise, and following a diabetes diet plan are very important. Apart from these, it is also important for a person with diabetes to monitor blood glucose levels at home with the help of a glucometer. By doing this, both the patients and diabetologists would understand how blood sugar levels fluctuate during the day.
Along with these self-management strategies, it is paramount that one gets periodically tested for the functioning of vital organs in the body in order to assess the damage done to them (if any) and address these conditions early on.
Periodical diagnostic tests for diabetes complications
- fasting blood glucose test
- Postprandial blood glucose test
- HbA1c test
- Thyroid function test
- Lipid profile test
- Kidney profile test to assess the functioning of kidneys
- Dilated fundus examination to test the retina
- Tests for diabetic foot like biothesiometry
When these tests are done at a frequency as suggested by a diabetes doctor, most of the complications can either be avoided by a change in the treatment or treated early on in case they are present.
Why you should never miss these diagnostic tests
Your blood sugar tests like fasting blood glucose test, postprandial blood glucose test, and HbA1c test tell your diabetologist how your body is reacting to diabetes medications. Combining the results of these tests helps the doctor to alter treatments in order to get better glycemic control.
Fasting blood glucose test
It is a fact that most endocrinologists and diabetologists refer to the levels of fasting blood glucose test for diabetes treatment. High fasting blood glucose level is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, stroke and a host of diabetes complications. Taking a blood sugar reading before breakfast periodically at a diagnostic centre near you or at home can tell you and your doctors a lot about your diabetes control.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients are advised to have their fasting blood glucose levels between 70 and 130 mg/dL. However, it is seen in research that by reaching a target range of 110 mg/dL in people with type 2 diabetes, insulin response increases.
If a person has high fasting blood glucose levels, the risk of diabetic foot ulcers, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes complications.
Postprandial blood glucose test
Postprandial blood glucose is the measure of blood glucose after 2 hours of consuming food. This is also another important blood sugar reading that is used by doctors to predict the possibility of getting microvascular complications like diabetic retinopathy, and diabetic nephropathy. Do not forget to get your postprandial blood glucose tested at the same diagnostic centre after getting a fasting blood glucose test.
This is a gold standard test when it comes to know how well you are able to cope with diabetes. Most endocrinologists emphasize on reaching the target HbA1c levels in order to control diabetes and to avoid heart disease, kidney disease, and eye problems. An HbA1c test indicates the risk of a person developing heart diseases, nerve problems, ischemic stroke, heart failure, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic nephropathy, cognitive decline, increased risk of fractures, and many other complications. That is why you need to get an HbA1c test once every 6 months (or as per the advice of doctors) at a diagnostic centre near you.
Thyroid function test
The functioning of thyroid hormones and diabetes has close relation. It is very common for people with diabetes to have thyroid disorders. It is very important for people with diabetes to maintain normal values of thyroid hormones in order to avoid complications like atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disorders, and other complications. That is why it is recommended that you get a thyroid function test at a diagnostic centre as per the recommendations of your endocrinologist.
Lipid profile test
Lipid profile test measures the total cholesterol levels in your body along with triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol are a major risk factor for heart diseases, atherosclerosis, peripheral artery disease, stroke, and heart attack. In fact, people with diabetes tend to have a condition called diabetic dyslipidemia since diabetes is a metabolic disorder. Maintaining target cholesterol levels by lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides reduces the risk of many diseases. It is best to get a lipid profile test done at a diagnostic centre near you once every year.
Kidney function test
This is a very important test for all people with diabetes. Diabetes leads to end-stage kidney disease due to a diabetes complication called diabetic nephropathy. In this condition, the small blood vessels and nerves of kidneys get damaged. A kidney function test done periodically can help your diabetologist in treating the condition early on or preventing it with tight glycemic control. A kidney function test generally consists of urinalysis, blood test to measure glomerular filtration rate (GFR), albumin to creatinine ration (ACR), and blood urea nitrogen (BUN). It is important to get this test in a diagnostic centre that is NABL accredited.
Dilated Fundus Examination
Damage to the retina occurs in diabetes without the person realizing it as there is no vision changes in the early stages. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy occur only in the later stages and by then damage done is irreversible. That’s why people with diabetes should get their retinas checked at least once a year. Early detection can prevent permanent vision loss.
Biothesiometry is a diagnostic test that is done to diagnose peripheral diabetic neuropathies. It is a test that is done to diagnose diabetic foot problems and erectile dysfunction in people with diabetes. Early detection of diabetic neuropathy allows doctors to reduce further damage by ensuring better glycemic control.
Finally, it is important to choose the right diagnostic centre for all the above mentioned diabetes tests. It is better to look for a diagnostic test near you that offers all these tests so that they can be done in one day. While getting these tests is crucial, it is important to adhere to the treatment recommended by your diabetes doctor in order to reach target levels in all these tests and stay complication-free.