Diabetes, also known as Diabetes mellitus, in medical parlance, falls under a group of metabolic diseases, where a patient has high blood sugar (glucose). This is a serious global disease that has gripped people of various age groups across multiple nationalities.
Diabetes typically occurs due to:
- Inadequate insulin production in the body or
- When body cells don’t respond correctly to the insulin or
- Both the above
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has identified the below set of people to be susceptible to diabetes:
- People with a body mass index higher than 25 and 23 in case of Asian-Americans. This is regardless of age. But the chances of getting diagnosed with diabetes increases manifold if the following conditions also prevail:
- Erratic cholesterol levels
- High Blood pressure
- Sedentary lifestyle
- History of diabetes among close family members
- The Association also recommends diabetes testing to be done on a regular basis for people above the age group of 45 years and if the results are within the prescribed limits then tests should be repeated every three years.
- Any woman who has had gestational diabetes should get herself checked every three years.
Some common symptoms that diabetic patients experience include:
- Frequent urination (Polyuria)
- Increased thirst (Polydipsia)
- Increased hunger (Polyphagia)
- Increased fatigue
- Slower healing process where cuts and bruises take longer than usual to heal
- Itchy skin, in some cases
- Numbness and tingling feeling in hands and feet
Diagnosis of Diabetes
More often than not, the diagnosis of diabetes includes carrying out a urine test. This test reveals whether there is excess glucose present in the body. This is typically followed up with a blood test to calculate the blood sugar levels. Since a patient cannot feel whether the blood sugar is high or low, this testing needs to be conducted at regular intervals, sometimes even several times in the day, to keep a check on the sugar levels.
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Knowing FPG, PPG & HB A1C Numbers
FPG stands for “Fasting Plasma Glucose”. This is the blood sugar level when you have been fasting for at least 8 hours. This is usually checked a couple of hours after one wakes up in the morning and primarily helps in the diagnosis of diabetes and pre-diabetes. While you are not permitted to consume anything for 8 to 10 hours before taking the test, you can consume water at regular intervals.
The FPG results typically fall under the below readings:
- Normal reading – less than100 mg/dl
- Prediabetes/Impaired Fasting Glucose reading – 100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl
- Diabetes reading – above 126 mg/dl
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PPG stands for “Postprandial Plasma Glucose”. This is the after-meals blood sugar level that is usually checked one to two hours post eating. This testing is generally done to check the spike in the blood sugar level post eating and is usually done to check how tolerant the body is to glucose.
The PPG results typically fall under the below readings:
- Normal reading – less than 140 mg/dl
- Impaired Glucose Tolerance reading – between 140 mg/dl and 200 mg/dl
- Diabetes reading – Equal or above 200 mg/dl
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Another important number that the ADA prescribes is the A1C number, which is also popularly known as Glycated Hemoglobin, Glycosylated Hemoglobin, Hemoglobin A1C, and HbA1c.
This is a very important number that basically describes how well your blood sugar has been controlled over the past 2 to 3 months. It also tells your diabetes control team how effectively your overall diabetes control plan is working. In a nutshell, your A1C Control = FPG Control + PPG Control.
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Why is it important to know FPG, PPG & HBA1C numbers?
The A1C test measures what percentage of your hemoglobin is coated with sugar (glycated). Hemoglobin is a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen. The higher the A1C level, the poorer is your blood sugar control and the higher is the risk of developing diabetes-related complications. The A1C test plays a vital role in predicting prediabetes, type 1 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes.
Why is it so important to control these numbers?
A good control over the A1C helps to safeguard the body from numerous diabetes-related risks such as:
- Eye-related problems (Retinopathy)
- Kidney related problems (Nephropathy)
- Nerve-related problems (Neuropathy)
These are microvascular complications that primarily cause damage to small blood vessels.
Along with these, there are some macrovascular problems too that damage the large blood vessels. These include:
- Heart attack
- Peripheral arterial disease
Type 1 diabetes
This type of diabetes typically occurs during childhood or during the adolescence stages. This diabetes type requires regular insulin treatment, generally for life, to keep the blood sugar levels in control.
Type 2 diabetes
This is the most common and prevalent kind of diabetes. It usually develops in adulthood and is mostly observed in people who are largely inactive or overweight. Read more about the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Administration of oral drugs is given when lifestyle modifications have been unsuccessful in bringing down the blood sugar levels. These oral doses work well to treat Type 2 diabetes, but Type 1 patients have to resort to insulin injections or insulin pumps.