Diabetes is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. The hormone insulin moves sugar from the blood into your cells to be stored or used for energy. With diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it does make.
Untreated high blood sugar from diabetes can damage your nerves, eyes, kidneys, and other organs.
There are a few different types of diabetes:
Each type of diabetes has unique symptoms, causes, and treatments. We will only be looking at Type 2 Diabetes here.
Diabetes symptoms are caused by rising blood sugar. The general symptoms of diabetes include:
Diabetes symptoms can be so mild that they’re hard to spot at firs which is why testing is important.
Type 2 diabetes stems from a combination of genetics and lifestyle factors. Being overweight or obese increases your risk too. Carrying extra weight, especially in your belly, makes your cells more resistant to the effects of insulin on your blood sugar.
This condition runs in families. Family members share genes that make them more likely to get type 2 diabetes and to be overweight.
Your risk for type 2 diabetes increases if you:
High blood sugar damages organs and tissues throughout your body. The higher your blood sugar is and the longer you live with it, the greater your risk for complications.
Complications associated with diabetes are extremely serious and include:
Haemoglobin (Hb) is the protein in your blood that carries oxygen around your body. Glucose (sugar) in your blood can stick to the haemoglobin protein. When this happens the haemoglobin is called HbA1c.
The higher the glucose levels are in your blood, the more of it gets stuck to your haemoglobin and the higher your HbA1c is. So, the HbA1c is a blood test that basically checks how much sugar (glucose) has stuck to your blood.
The HbA1c test is used to diagnose diabetes, and to keep an eye on blood glucose levels if you’re at risk of developing diabetes, i.e. you have prediabetes.
The HbA1c test measures your average blood glucose over 2–3 months and gives an indication of your longer-term blood glucose control.
The longer that you’ve had higher blood sugars for, the higher that your HbA1c will be. (Generally speaking, readings of 50 or over indicate diabetes; 41-49 is moderate and HbA1c levels of 40 or below are normal.)
However, if you already have diabetes, the ideal HbA1c level is 48 and this is a good number to aim for if you are diabetic. But that can be a difficult target to reach for many and so individualized targets are often set for each patient.
Having an HbA1c over 48 does increase risk of developing complications of problems in your eyes, in your kidneys and in your feet. Even if it’s just slightly over it will still increase your risk.
If you do have a high HbA1c level – even if it’s only slightly high – it’s really important to work with your doctor and other healthcare professionals to try to bring your HbA1c to 48 and avoid potentially serious health complications in future such as loss of sight and amputations.
There are several things you can do to lower your HbA1c levels to either avoid diabetes (if you have prediabetes) or to lower your risk of developing diabetes-related complications:
If you’re at risk of diabetes, be sure to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly, every 3-6 months – but more often if you have prediabetes or your levels have been changing quickly.
If you get a moderate/high HbA1c reading, speak to your doctor to discuss a potential plan going forward. If necessary, your doctor and health providers will look at your HbA1c reading and decide what is realistic and achievable to start to bring your level closer to 48 over the next 3, 6 and 12 months.
Order a Diabetes (HbA1c) Home Test Kit. Get the convenience of home testing with the reassurance of professional clinical analysis. Your results are delivered quickly and securely online.
Our Diabetes home blood test kit checks how well your body has managed blood sugar levels over the last 2 – 3 months by measuring HbA1c, which indicates your risk from diabetes.
Too much sugar in your blood damages blood vessels and can lead to serious problems. The most common cause is Type 2 diabetes, a serious, lifelong condition.
Making positive lifestyle changes can significantly reduce your risk of developing diabetes. Lowering your HbA1c level is the best gauge of risk reduction.
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