To recognize diabetes, you should look out for several signs.
In this guide, you can read about the signs of diabetes, the test you can use to diagnose diabetes, and the therapy that has proven effective for diabetes.
With this comprehensive information and answers to frequently asked questions, we hope to provide you with valuable knowledge so that you can recognize diabetes at an early stage, initiate appropriate treatment and prevent avoidable consequences. All too often, diabetes remains undiagnosed during the first few years because those affected are unable to correctly classify the symptoms and signs. This must be avoided in the future!
Therefore, we hope you will now enjoy reading!
What is diabetes? A brief introduction
Diabetes is a metabolic disease associated with elevated blood glucose levels. In medicine, the term "diabetes mellitus" is usually used uses. This term is used to describe different types of diabetes, which we would like to explain in more detail below.
Different types and causes of diabetes
As already mentioned, the term "diabetes" is used to refer to a number of different conditions Different types of blood sugar disease summarized. These include diabetes type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.
Diabetes type 1
Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common metabolic diseases (autoimmune disease) among children and adolescents. The immune system attacks its own body by destroying the islet cells of the pancreas. Since these cells are responsible for the production of the hormone insulin, an insulin deficiency occurs as a result, which in turn leads to increased blood sugar levels. As a consequence, most patients with type 1 diabetes have to administer insulin to their body from outside and often have to inject themselves with insulin for the rest of their lives.
The diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is usually made most quickly, as this type is often accompanied by quite noticeable symptoms. Increased urination, nocturnal urination, intense thirst and increasing fatigue are characteristic of this type of diabetes.
The main cause of type 1 diabetes is, in particular, an unfavorable genetic predisposition, which is additionally influenced by harmful environmental factors and an unhealthy lifestyle. Type 2 diabetes occurs mainly in adults. Is considered the most common diabetes disease. However, since type 2 diabetes develops gradually and is accompanied by unspecific symptoms, the disease remains undiagnosed in many patients for several years – in some cases, up to ten years pass between the first signs and the diagnosis.
In this type, the cells in the body develop an insensitivity to the hormone insulin, which is responsible for transporting the sugar ingested with food from the blood into the cells to provide energy, thereby lowering the blood sugar level. The consequence: The blood glucose level remains elevated because there is too much sugar in the blood. If the blood sugar level is permanently too high, this can lead to various health impairments and secondary diseases.
Causes of this type of diabetes include genetic predisposition, lack of exercise and obesity. According to experts, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes can be significantly reduced by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Interesting to know: The term "metabolic syndrome", also "Deadly Quartet" diabetes is the name given to the combination of at least three pathological disorders such as overweight (obesity with predominant fat storage in the abdomen), insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders with elevated triglyceride or cholesterol levels, and high blood prere. This quartet of diseases is usually caused by an unhealthy lifestyle maintained for several years with too little exercise and an unfavorable diet. The presence of metabolic syndrome can significantly increase the risk of damage to blood vessels. It is not uncommon for it to lead to a heart attack if left untreated.
Gestational diabetes (pregnancy diabetes)
Just over 5% of pregnant women develop diabetes during their pregnancy, which is why this form of diabetes is also called gestational diabetes. In medicine, this type of glucose tolerance disorder is called gestational diabetes. Due to the fact that gestational diabetes endangers the health of mother and child because of the elevated blood glucose levels, early testing in pregnancy has become established (for details see item "Diagnosis of diabetes").
Blood glucose levels in diabetes mellitus: exceeding the limits
Diabetes is said to occur when the blood glucose level repeatedly exceeds one of the thresholds listed below (adults) in a meaningful test.
– Fasting blood glucose (8-10 hours without food): ≥ 126 mg/dl (≥ 7.0 mmol/l) – 120 minutes after an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT): ≥ 200 mg/dl (≥ 11.1 mmol/l) – HbA1c value: ≥ 6.5 % or. ≥ 48 mmol/mol
In comparison, blood glucose levels in healthy adults look like this:
– Fasting blood glucose (8-10 hours without food): ≤ 100 mg/dl (≤ 5.6 mmol/l) – 120 minutes after an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT): ≤ 140 mg/dl (≤ 7.8 mmol/l) – HbA1c value: 4-6 %
If fasting blood glucose is between 100 and 125 mg/dl (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/l), this may indicate so-called prediabetes (preliminary stage of type 2 diabetes). This must be checked by a supplementary test. Read more about the test procedure in the section "Diagnosis of diabetes" below.
How many people have diabetes?
Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the world, affecting between 350 and 415 million people worldwide. According to studies, approximately 6 million patients in Germany suffer from this metabolic disease. According to expert estimates, there are just as many undiagnosed diabetes cases – i.e. patients in whom doctors have not yet recognized the disease diabetes – or. People who are at increased risk of developing diabetes.
The forecasts made by experts in connection with diabetes are also alarming: By 2040, the United Nations expects the number of diabetes patients to rise by a further 50%. According to the study, almost 650 million people would develop diabetes by 2040. As a result, diabetes is already being described as the first disease that is not triggered by an infection to pose a global threat.
For this reason, the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD for short) has set itself the goal of advancing causal research and deriving effective measures for prevention and treatment from new scientific findings in order to stop the rapid spread of diabetes.
First signs of diabetes – how to recognize the warning signs
Since diabetes mellitus often develops insidiously and is often accompanied by nonspecific symptoms, many people do not find out until very late that they are diabetics.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Although each type of diabetes has different characteristics, some of the symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are similar. The difference, however, is that the symptoms of type 1 are more pronounced and become apparent more quickly. As a rule, however, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes are less pronounced because the onset of the disease is gradual. Only gestational diabetes is almost always asymptomatic, which means that most pregnant women do not even notice that they are affected by diabetes – a test often provides information (for more information, see "Diagnosis of diabetes").
Overview of typical diabetes symptoms:
increased urge to urinate and nocturnal urination – Reason: The organism tries to excrete the excessive sugar in the blood via the kidneys and consequently via the urine. Strong thirst – Cause: When the strong urge to urinate leads to a lack of water, great thirst occurs. Lack of energy, fatigue, depressive mood and tiredness – Reason: In diabetes, the body can no longer use glucose properly to produce energy, which makes the person feel tired and listless. dry, itchy skin – Cause: Dry skin is also caused by increased water loss due to increased urination to lower blood glucose levels. poorer wound healing – Reason: Since the immune system is weakened in diabetes and blood supply to the skin is poorer, wound healing may be slowed down. Increased susceptibility to infections (mostly of the urinary tract, skin, mucous membranes and gums) – Reason: Frequent infections are also a consequence of the weakened immune system of diabetics. Weight loss – Cause: possible weight loss is also due to more frequent urination. Another reason can be that the cells fall back on the fat depots for energy due to the impaired utilization of blood sugar (especially in type 1 diabetes). Bad breath (acetone odor, similar to nail polish or overripe apples – only in type 1 diabetes) – Cause: If the cells are not supplied with enough glucose, the body resorts to fat cells (see above) and forms ketones or. Acetone. Such a severe insulin deficiency can lead to ketoacidosis. In severe cases lead to diabetic coma. Such a severe insulin deficiency can lead to ketoacidosis. In severe cases lead to diabetic coma.
Notice: Many of these symptoms are non-specific and also occur in numerous other diseases, so that no definite conclusions about diabetes can be drawn from the symptoms alone. It is therefore important to consider the symptoms in their overall context and to ask an experienced diabetologist for advice.
Diagnosis of diabetes: a test provides certainty
Above we have already mentioned the threshold values, the exceeding of which confirms the suspicion of diabetes mellitus. With a reliable test, blood glucose levels can be accurately determined and it can be seen whether a patient is suffering from diabetes or not. Nowadays, there are several test variants for making a diagnosis. Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels. The fasting blood glucose value as well as the long-term blood glucose value (HbA1c value) are measured and placed in relation to the limit values.
Fasting blood glucose: blood test before breakfast
To determine the blood glucose level in the fasting state, a blood sample is taken before breakfast. The patient should not eat for at least four hours before the test, should not smoke and should drink only water so that the test result is not falsified.
If fasting blood glucose is in the range between 100 and 125 mg/dl (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/l), an oral glucose tolerance test should be performed to check for the presence of prediabetes.
Oral glucose tolerance test: detecting the precursor of diabetes
If blood glucose is only temporarily elevated (for example, after eating), it is often a precursor to diabetes. This can be determined with the help of a glucose tolerance test, which is performed after food restriction of approx. 10 hours is also done in a fasting state. Before the test, the blood sugar is determined, after which a solution with 75 g of sugar is drunk. 120 minutes after the test, the blood glucose is measured again and compared with the limit values.
Important: For the test to be meaningful, the patient should eat enough carbohydrates three days before the test and not smoke.
An oral test with a glucose solution is also used in pregnant women between the 24. and 28. performed during the first week of pregnancy to detect gestational diabetes. Since 2012, health insurance companies in Germany have been covering the costs of a general screening procedure for pregnant women.
HbA1c value: Duo of hemoglobin and sugar
In addition to the above-mentioned methods, the HbA1c value in the blood can also be determined to diagnose diabetes. HbA1C is glycohemoglobin, the pigment in red blood cells that combines with sugar in the blood. HbA1C laboratory values indicate the blood glucose concentration within the last two months in percent. Allow conclusions to be drawn about a permanently elevated blood glucose level.
Good to know: The most commonly used test, in addition to the usual blood sample taken while fasting, is the oral glucose tolerance test. A great advantage of this test is that it can also be used to diagnose a preliminary stage of diabetes mellitus (so-called "prediabetes"). The HbA1c value, on the other hand, only indicates very high blood glucose levels, so that preliminary stages of diabetes cannot be deduced.
The same applies to many over-the-counter urine test strips – although these give an indication of the presence of acute diabetes, they do not allow early detection, as sugar in the urine is only detectable above a value of 160-180 mg/dl. Therefore, always read the product information carefully if you want to do a reliable test and ask an experienced doctor in case of doubt.
Monitoring therapy: checking progress
Not only is the diagnosis made with such a test procedure, but the course of therapy is also recorded with such a test. If the blood glucose value is within the normal range, no therapy adjustment is necessary. If blood glucose levels fluctuate too much, it may be necessary to administer insulin or. Can be increased or reduced by other medications. It may also be necessary to take additional measures to ensure the success of the therapy in the long term.
Can diabetics also test their blood glucose at home?
To determine your blood sugar level, you do not have to go to the doctor first. Thanks to modern test strips and blood glucose meters, you can also reliably determine and record your values at home. This is especially convenient for people who already know that they suffer from the blood sugar disease and need to measure their values regularly.
Blood glucose meters with test strips
To determine blood glucose, a minimal amount of blood (usually from the fingertip) is taken, applied to a test strip and read with a meter. The values should be recorded in a diary or an individual protocol in order to make fluctuations visible and to be able to react to them at an early stage.
Rapid urine tests
By means of special
Urine test strips the urine can be tested for an elevated blood glucose concentration. If the test field is discolored, the value is elevated. Indicates diabetes mellitus. However, a positive test result can also be indicated by other illnesses or after eating too many sweets and should always be confirmed by a medical professional.
Tip: In our online pharmacy you will find numerous over-the-counter tests
Test strips, blood glucose meters and practical quick tests that you can easily use at home. You don't want to go through the hassle of finding individual products? Even then we have the right thing for you: order a practical set of measuring devices. Test strips (some even include a diary) conveniently delivered to your home with just a few clicks – it couldn't be easier!
Important: A quick test at home is no substitute for a visit to the doctor. If you suspect that you have diabetes mellitus, you can of course carry out a self-test to confirm your initial suspicions. Afterwards, however, you should definitely make an appointment with an expert. Thanks to his experience, he can advise you in detail. Establish a confirmed diagnosis.
Therapy and treatment of diabetes
Depending on the type of diabetes and the respective causes, a different therapy is promising. In principle, however, the earlier treatment begins, the better – this is the only way to prevent or mitigate long-term damage.
While type 1 diabetes usually requires a lifetime of insulin injections or tablets, type 2 diabetics may only need to make lifestyle changes. A healthy diet with few refined carbohydrates (especially sugar), lots of fresh vegetables, low-sugar fruit, high-quality protein and healthy fats has already proven itself many times over in the fight against diabetes. In addition, patients should integrate a healthy amount of sport and exercise into their daily routine to activate cell metabolism and reduce any excess weight. This not only has a beneficial effect on diabetes, but also increases the general feeling of well-being and raises the overall enjoyment of life.