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Diabetes Mellitus, Prediabetes, and Metabolic Syndrome
What is Diabetes Mellitus, Prediabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, or Elevated Blood Sugar?
Elevated blood sugar (or hyperglycemia) has different titles depending on how high your blood sugar climbs. The first stage of elevated blood sugar is called hyperglycemia. If you have the triad of overweight, elevated blood sugar, and high cholesterol, you will be given a diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome. If your blood sugar continues to rise, you will then be diagnosed with Prediabetes which is the step before the final diagnosis of Diabetes Mellitus. If your Diabetes is difficult to control, you may require insulin. You may have heard of the different types of Diabetes Mellitus. Most people have Diabetes Mellitus type II. The younger people that get diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus and immediately require insulin are type I.
Elevated Blood Sugar Prediabetes Diabetes Mellitus type II
Elevated Blood Sugar + Overweight + High Cholesterol = Metabolic Syndrome
How did Diabetes Mellitus get its name?
Diabetes can be traced back to Egyptian times, but the Latin name of Diabetes Mellitus came from Ancient Greeks. It means “siphon of sugar” or “sweet urine.” It was given this name after the sweet-taste of urine in people who have this disease. When blood sugar gets high, it begins spilling into the urine, and the Ancient Greeks were able to taste the sweetness.
Why is it important to get checked for elevated blood sugar?
Diabetes and elevated blood sugar does not usually have symptoms in the early stages of the disease. However, it is the leading cause of multiple diseases, including blindness, heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, and many others. Discovering early signs of insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar is important because it allows you to make the appropriate lifestyle changes before developing Diabetes.
How do you diagnose Diabetes Mellitus and elevated blood sugar?
A simple blood draw in the office can help diagnose elevated blood sugar, and it will also help distinguish which category of elevated blood sugar you belong to: Metabolic Syndrome, Prediabetes, and Diabetes Mellitus. There are multiple blood tests for elevated blood sugar. The 2 most important ones are the serum blood glucose (aka blood sugar) and Glycosolated Hemoglobin (aka A1c).
Blood Sugar or Serum Glucose:
Your blood sugar level gives you a single blood sugar level. It is important to fast (not eat or drink anything for 8 hours) before a blood sugar test.
A1c or Glycosylated Hemoglobin:
An A1c test gives you a score of your average blood sugar over the previous 3 months. It does not matter if you are fasting or not. You can eat a meal before your blood draw and your A1c will not change. The A1c is affected by any blood disorders such as anemia, so it may be important to mention this to your healthcare provider at the time of the visit.
How is elevated blood sugar and Diabetes Mellitus treated?
There are many medications and lifestyle interventions that improve blood sugar levels. The first intervention is to remove as much sugar from your diet as possible. Fluids are the worst source for sugar since it is quickly absorbed, and manufacturers pump a lot of sugar into drinks. Removing all sources of “liquid sugar,” including sweet tea, sodas, and juice are instrumental in improving blood sugar levels. Without cutting out these “liquid sugars” you will always struggle with elevated blood sugar levels, and you will likely progress to Diabetes. Fake sugars or sweeteners like Splenda and Sweet n Low are okay to use, and they do not affect blood sugar levels. Switching to diet sodas is also better than drinking regular sodas although sodas in general have other health risks. Visiting with a dietician can help locate hidden sugars in your diet which will lower your blood sugar levels and improve diabetes markers.
Medications by Mouth: Treatment is usually initiated with medicines by mouth such as Metformin. If your blood sugar continues to rise, you may be started on other blood sugar lowering medicines such as Januvia, Onglyza, or Actos. Your healthcare provider will determine the best medicine or combination medicine for you.
Injectables: If your blood sugar remains elevated and you are overweight, your healthcare provider may suggest an injectable medicine. Many injectable medicines help lower your blood sugar and help you lose weight. Some examples are Byetta, Bydureon, and Victoza.
Insulin: Most people are familiar with insulin as an injectable medicine for Diabetes. Insulin is one of the last resorts to controlling your blood sugar. Insulin is associated with weight gain instead of weight loss, and it also has high rates of causing episodes of low blood sugar (or hypoglycemia). There are multiple types of insulin. There are 3 broad categories: Short-acting, Intermediate-acting, and long-acting. Your healthcare provider will help determine the right insulin or combination of insulin for you.