A1C, also known as HbA1c, is a blood test that measures the average level of blood glucose (sugar) over the past two to three months. This test reflects how well diabetes is being managed over time. If a person’s A1C level is 6.5% or higher on two separate tests, they are typically diagnosed with diabetes.
Blood sugar, or blood glucose, refers to the sugar that’s transported through the bloodstream to supply energy to all the cells in our body. It’s the primary source of energy and is regulated by insulin.
Blood Sugar Level
Blood sugar level, also known as blood glucose level, is the concentration of glucose present in the blood at any given time. This level is crucial in maintaining bodily functions and is tightly regulated by hormonal controls, primarily insulin. Healthy blood sugar levels vary throughout the day but generally stay within a narrow range. Monitoring these levels is essential for individuals with diabetes to manage their condition effectively.
For a non-diabetic individual, a typical blood sugar level might be around 70-99 mg/dL when fasting and less than 140 mg/dL two hours after eating. In contrast, individuals with diabetes may need to closely monitor and manage their blood sugar levels to keep them within a target range advised by their healthcare provider.
Carbohydrates are one of the three main types of nutrients found in foods and drinks. They are the body’s most important energy source and are found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which the body’s cells use for energy.
Foods high in carbohydrates include pasta, bread, rice, and cereals. For people with diabetes, carbohydrate intake must be carefully managed to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. It results from either insufficient insulin production (Type 1 Diabetes) or the body’s inability to effectively use the insulin it produces (Type 2 Diabetes).
Symptoms of diabetes mellitus can include increased thirst, frequent urination, and unexplained weight loss.
Glucose, often called blood sugar, is a simple sugar that serves as a primary energy source for the body. After being absorbed from the foods we eat, it is a carbohydrate that circulates in the bloodstream and is utilized by cells for energy and growth. The regulation of glucose levels in the blood is a critical physiological process, primarily managed by the hormones insulin and glucagon.
When a person eats a meal, particularly one high in carbohydrates, their digestive system breaks down the food into glucose, entering the bloodstream. This increase in blood glucose triggers the pancreas to release insulin, allowing cells to absorb and use the glucose for energy. For someone with diabetes, this process is impaired, necessitating careful monitoring and management of blood glucose levels.
Hyperglycemia refers to high blood sugar levels. This condition occurs when the body has too little insulin or cannot use insulin properly, leading to blood sugar levels that are too high. A person with diabetes might experience hyperglycemia if they eat too much, are under stress, or forget to take their diabetes medication.
Hypoglycemia is a condition characterized by abnormally low blood sugar levels. This can happen in people with diabetes, typically due to taking too much insulin or other diabetes medications, not eating enough, or excessive exercise. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, confusion, dizziness, or feeling lightheaded, and it’s often treated with a quick source of sugar like fruit juice or glucose tablets.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels. It allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in food for energy or to store glucose for future use. Insulin helps to keep your blood sugar level from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). People with Type 1 Diabetes are unable to produce insulin and must take insulin injections to control their blood sugar levels.
Juvenile diabetes, more commonly known as Type 1 diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone that allows sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. This type of diabetes typically appears during childhood or adolescence, but it can also develop in adults. Unlike Type 2 diabetes, it’s not associated with lifestyle factors and is largely considered to be an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
A child diagnosed with juvenile diabetes might need to start insulin therapy to maintain normal blood glucose levels. This could involve multiple daily injections of insulin or the use of an insulin pump, along with regular blood sugar monitoring and carbohydrate counting to adjust insulin doses.
LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults)
LADA is a form of diabetes that shares characteristics of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. It is diagnosed in adulthood, typically after the age of 30, and is characterized by the gradual onset of insulin deficiency due to the autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, similar to Type 1 diabetes. However, it develops more slowly than typical Type 1 diabetes, often leading to initial misdiagnosis as Type 2 diabetes. People with LADA may initially respond to treatments for Type 2 diabetes, such as oral medications, but eventually require insulin therapy as their body’s ability to produce insulin declines.
An individual in their late 30s may be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and initially respond well to oral diabetes medications. However, over time, these medications become less effective, and further testing reveals the presence of autoantibodies typical of Type 1 diabetes, leading to a reclassification of their condition as LADA. The treatment strategy would then shift to include insulin therapy, along with dietary and lifestyle modifications.
mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter)
mg/dL is a unit of measurement used in medicine to quantify the concentration of substances in the blood. One of the most common uses of mg/dL is in measuring blood glucose levels, especially in the United States. It indicates how many milligrams of a substance, like glucose, are present in one deciliter of blood.
For blood sugar levels, a fasting glucose level of 70 to 99 mg/dL is considered normal for someone without diabetes. Levels above this range may indicate hyperglycemia and potential diabetes.
mmol/L (millimoles per liter)
mmol/L is a unit of measurement used to express the concentration of substances in the blood, including blood glucose. It is commonly used in countries that follow the metric system. This measurement indicates the number of millimoles of a substance, such as glucose, in one liter of blood.
Regarding blood sugar, a normal fasting blood glucose level is typically between 4.0 and 5.4 mmol/L (72 to 99 mg/dL) for someone without diabetes. Blood glucose levels are considered high (hyperglycemia) if they are above this range.
The pancreas is an organ located in the abdomen. It plays an essential role in converting the food we eat into fuel for the body’s cells. The pancreas has two main functions: an exocrine function that helps in digestion and an endocrine function that regulates blood sugar by producing insulin. In diabetes, the pancreas either produces little or no insulin (Type 1 Diabetes) or insulin, but it’s not used effectively (Type 2 Diabetes).
Pre-diabetes is a health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. It indicates an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Pre-diabetes is often a precursor to Type 2 diabetes and is typically identified through blood sugar tests. The condition can often be managed or reversed through lifestyle changes, including diet, exercise, and weight loss.
An individual might be diagnosed with pre-diabetes if their fasting blood glucose levels are consistently between 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L), which is above normal but below the diabetes threshold. In such cases, healthcare providers often recommend lifestyle modifications such as increasing physical activity, eating a balanced diet, and losing excess weight to prevent the progression of Type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune condition where the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone that allows glucose to enter cells to produce energy. This lack of insulin results in high blood sugar levels. The exact cause of Type 1 diabetes is unknown, but it’s believed to involve a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors. Unlike Type 2 diabetes, it’s not associated with lifestyle or diet. Management of Type 1 diabetes involves insulin therapy, regular blood sugar monitoring, a balanced diet, and regular exercise.
A typical scenario for someone with Type 1 diabetes might involve checking their blood sugar levels several times a day and administering insulin through injections or an insulin pump to maintain their blood sugar levels within a target range. Lifestyle adjustments, such as counting carbohydrates and planning meals, are integral to managing Type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how the body processes blood sugar (glucose). In Type 2 diabetes, the body either resists the effects of insulin — a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into cells — or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes is associated with factors such as overweight, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and genetic predisposition. Management often includes lifestyle changes, oral medications, and, in some cases, insulin therapy.
An individual with Type 2 diabetes might need to make significant lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity, eating a balanced diet of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and possibly losing weight. Additionally, they may need to monitor their blood sugar levels regularly and take medications as prescribed to help manage their blood sugar. For some, effective lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the progression of the disease and even achieve remission.
An autoimmune disease is a condition in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue. In a typical immune response, the body produces antibodies that target harmful pathogens like bacteria and viruses. However, in autoimmune diseases, the immune system erroneously identifies normal cells as foreign and attacks them. There are many types of autoimmune diseases, and they can affect various parts of the body. The exact causes of autoimmune responses are often unknown, though they may involve genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors.
Type 1 diabetes is an example of an autoimmune disease. In this condition, the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, leading to a lack of insulin and the inability to regulate blood sugar levels effectively. Other examples of autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, where the immune system attacks the joints, and multiple sclerosis, where it attacks the nervous system.
Alpha cells are a type of cell in the pancreas. They are responsible for producing the hormone glucagon, which works in opposition to insulin. When blood sugar levels are low, alpha cells release glucagon to signal the liver to release stored glucose into the bloodstream, thus raising blood sugar levels. When someone skips a meal, alpha cells release glucagon to prevent blood sugar from dropping too low.
The basal rate refers to the continuous supply of low levels of insulin, typically provided by an insulin pump. This mimics the normal, steady release of insulin by a healthy pancreas to regulate blood sugar levels in the absence of food. A person using an insulin pump may set a basal rate to deliver a specific amount of insulin per hour throughout the day and night to manage blood sugar levels.
Beta-cells are cells located in the pancreas that produce and release insulin. They are an essential part of the body’s endocrine system and play a critical role in glucose metabolism by regulating blood sugar levels. In Type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys beta-cells, leading to insulin deficiency.
An endocrinologist is a physician specializing in the endocrine system, the system of glands that produce hormones. They are experts in managing diseases that affect these glands, including diabetes, thyroid disorders, and metabolic issues. A person with uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes may be referred to an endocrinologist for specialized treatment and management of their condition.
Dead in bed syndrome (DIB)
Dead-in-bed syndrome is a rare but tragic condition primarily seen in people with Type 1 diabetes. It refers to the sudden, unexplained deaths of individuals with diabetes during sleep, often with no prior symptoms or signs of distress. These individuals are typically found dead in an undisturbed bed, having been seemingly healthy the night before. The exact cause of DIB is not fully understood, but it is often associated with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels). The syndrome is of particular concern because of its occurrence in young, otherwise healthy individuals with diabetes.
Diabulimia is an eating disorder in which people with type 1 diabetes deliberately give themselves less insulin than they need or stop taking it altogether for the purpose of weight loss.
Ketones are chemicals made in the liver. They are produced when the body doesn’t have enough insulin to turn glucose into energy and instead uses fat as its energy source. High levels of ketones can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition often associated with Type 1 diabetes. A person with Type 1 diabetes might develop high levels of ketones if they miss an insulin dose, leading to the risk of ketoacidosis.
Treatment and Management
A bolus refers to an extra amount of insulin taken to cover an expected rise in blood sugar, often related to a meal or snack. It is a key part of intensive insulin therapy for managing diabetes. A person with diabetes might calculate a bolus dose of insulin to compensate for the carbohydrates they are about to consume in a meal.
Carbohydrate counting, often called “carb counting,” is a method used by people with diabetes to help manage their blood sugar levels. This technique involves calculating the total carbohydrates in each meal or snack to determine the appropriate dose of insulin needed to process those carbohydrates. Carbohydrate counting is an essential part of meal planning for individuals using insulin therapy, as it provides more flexibility in food choices while helping to balance food intake, physical activity, and insulin. The approach requires knowledge of how many carbohydrates are in various foods and an understanding of how they affect blood sugar levels.
A Diabetes Educator is a healthcare professional specializing in teaching and supporting individuals with diabetes to manage their condition effectively. They guide all aspects of diabetes care, including nutrition, physical activity, medication management, blood sugar monitoring, and problem-solving strategies to deal with the daily challenges of living with diabetes. Diabetes Educators often work as part of a broader healthcare team and can include registered nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, and other qualified professionals. They are crucial in helping patients understand their condition and develop self-management skills to improve their health outcomes.
Dietary management in the context of diabetes refers to the strategic planning and control of food intake to manage blood sugar levels and overall health. It involves making informed choices about what, when, and how much to eat, often focusing on balancing carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, while considering the individual’s lifestyle, medication, and any other health conditions. Dietary management is a cornerstone in the treatment of diabetes, as food choices directly impact blood glucose levels, body weight, and cardiovascular health.
A dietitian is a healthcare professional specializing in human nutrition and diet regulation. Dietitians are experts in dietary planning, tailored to individual health needs, and are particularly essential in managing medical conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, allergies, and obesity. They are trained to provide personalized nutritional advice based on the latest scientific research.
Glucose tablets are a fast-acting source of glucose that are used to treat low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). These tablets are designed to quickly raise blood sugar levels and are commonly used by individuals with diabetes. Each tablet typically contains a specific amount of glucose, usually around 4 grams. If a person with diabetes starts feeling symptoms of hypoglycemia, such as shakiness or dizziness, they might take glucose tablets to rapidly increase their blood sugar to a safer level.
Hypoglycemia unawareness is a condition in which a person with diabetes does not experience the typical warning signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) until the condition becomes severe. This can be dangerous, as it increases the risk of severe hypoglycemia, which can lead to unconsciousness or seizures.
An individual with long-standing diabetes may not feel symptoms like shakiness, sweating, or hunger when their blood sugar drops too low, a condition known as hypoglycemia unawareness. This requires them to monitor their blood sugar levels more frequently to avoid severe hypoglycemia.
Fructose is a simple sugar found naturally in fruits, honey, and vegetables. It is also a component of sucrose (table sugar) and high-fructose corn syrup, used in many processed foods. Fructose is metabolized differently than glucose and does not directly raise blood sugar levels, but excessive consumption can contribute to health issues, including obesity and insulin resistance.
Insulin Therapy / Injection
Insulin therapy or insulin injections involve administering insulin to manage blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes. Insulin is essential for people with Type 1 diabetes and sometimes necessary for those with Type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes. This therapy helps to compensate for the lack of insulin production or insulin resistance.
Physical activity in diabetes management refers to any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that require energy expenditure. Regular physical activity is crucial in managing diabetes as it helps control blood sugar levels, improves insulin sensitivity, aids in weight management, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Self-monitoring of Blood Glucose (SMBG)
Self-monitoring of blood glucose involves regularly checking one’s blood sugar levels using a blood glucose meter. This practice is essential for individuals with diabetes as it helps them manage their blood sugar levels by making informed decisions about diet, exercise, and medication.
Technology and Devices
Blood Glucose Meter
A blood glucose meter is a small, portable device used to measure the concentration of glucose in the blood. It is commonly used by individuals with diabetes for self-monitoring of blood glucose levels. The process typically involves pricking the finger to obtain a small blood sample, which is then placed on a test strip in the meter.
Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)
A continuous glucose monitor is a device used for tracking blood glucose levels throughout the day and night. CGM systems take glucose measurements regularly from a small sensor inserted under the skin and transmit this data to a receiver, smartphone, or insulin pump.
A person with Type 1 diabetes might use a CGM to continuously monitor their glucose levels, receiving alerts if their levels go too high or too low, especially during sleep or exercise.
An insulin pen is a device used to inject insulin, offering an alternative to traditional insulin syringes. It resembles a pen and contains a cartridge of insulin, with a fine needle on the end. Insulin pens are popular due to their convenience, ease of use, and more accurate dosing.
An insulin pump is a small, computerized device that delivers insulin to the body in a controlled, continuous manner, mimicking the pancreas’s natural insulin production. It delivers a basal rate of insulin continuously and allows for bolus doses to be administered at meal times.
Mobile Health Apps
Mobile health apps are applications designed for smartphones and tablets that help users manage their health and wellness. These apps can be particularly beneficial for people with chronic conditions like diabetes, offering features such as blood glucose tracking, medication reminders, dietary logging, and physical activity monitoring.
In the context of diabetes management, a syringe is a medical tool used to inject insulin into the body. It consists of a hollow needle attached to a tube (barrel) with a plunger. Insulin syringes vary in size depending on the dose of insulin needed.
A person using insulin therapy for diabetes may use a syringe to draw insulin from a vial and inject it. They must ensure they use the correct syringe size for their insulin dose and change the injection site regularly to prevent tissue damage.
Apidra (insulin glulisine) is a rapid-acting insulin analog used to control high blood sugar in adults and children with diabetes. It starts working faster and has a shorter duration than regular insulin. It starts to work about 15 minutes after injection, peaks in about 1 hour and works for 2 to 4 hours. A person might take Apidra shortly before or after meals to manage the spike in blood sugar that occurs after eating.
Basaglar (insulin glargine) is a long-acting insulin analog used to control high blood sugar in people with diabetes. It provides a steady level of insulin over a 24-hour period and helps to maintain baseline blood sugar levels. Basaglar is typically injected once a day to provide a consistent level of insulin, often combined with mealtime insulin.
Fiasp (insulin aspart) is a fast-acting insulin analog used to control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It acts faster than regular insulin aspart and is usually taken at the beginning of a meal. Fiasp is often used to manage post-meal blood sugar spikes and is injected just before or within 20 minutes of starting a meal.
Glucagon is a hormone that raises blood glucose levels. It is used in emergency situations to treat severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) when a person with diabetes cannot take sugar orally. If a person with diabetes experiences severe hypoglycemia and cannot consume carbohydrates, a glucagon injection can be administered to raise their blood sugar levels quickly.
Humalog (insulin lispro) is a rapid-acting insulin analog used to control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It is typically taken shortly before meals to manage post-meal blood sugar spikes. A person might inject Humalog 15 minutes before a meal to counteract the rise in blood sugar that occurs after eating.
Insulatard is an intermediate-acting insulin used to control blood sugar in people with diabetes. It has a slower onset and a longer duration of action compared to short-acting insulins. Insulatard is often administered once or twice daily to provide background insulin and help manage blood sugar levels throughout the day and night.
Lantus (insulin glargine) is a long-acting insulin analog used to control high blood sugar in people with diabetes. It provides a steady level of insulin over a 24-hour period. Lantus is typically injected once a day at the same time each day to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
Long-acting insulins are types of insulin that work over an extended period, typically for 20-24 hours, to help maintain a stable baseline level of blood sugar throughout the day and night. Insulin glargine (Lantus) and insulin detemir (Levemir) are examples of long-acting insulins used once or twice daily for consistent blood sugar control.
Metformin is an oral diabetes medication used primarily to treat Type 2 diabetes. It works by reducing glucose production in the liver, improving insulin sensitivity, and decreasing the absorption of glucose from the intestines.
A mixed dose refers to a combination of two different types of insulin in one injection, typically a mix of rapid-acting or short-acting insulin with intermediate-acting insulin. A mixed dose insulin, like NovoLog Mix 70/30, contains 70% intermediate-acting insulin aspart protamine and 30% rapid-acting insulin aspart, offering both immediate and prolonged insulin action.
Novolog (insulin aspart) is a rapid-acting insulin analog used to control high blood sugar in people with diabetes. It is taken shortly before meals to manage blood sugar spikes. Novolog is typically injected 5-10 minutes before a meal to reduce post-meal blood sugar elevations quickly.
NovoRapid, known as Novolog in the United States, is a rapid-acting insulin analog (insulin aspart) used to control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It acts quickly to manage blood sugar spikes after meals. A person might take NovoRapid immediately before or after a meal to quickly counteract the rise in blood sugar from eating.
Regular insulin, also known as short-acting insulin, is a type of insulin that starts to lower blood sugar within 30 minutes of injection and has a peak effect 2 to 3 hours later. Its effects last for about 5 to 8 hours. Regular insulin (Humulin R, Novolin R) is often taken 30 minutes before a meal to manage the increase in blood sugar that follows eating.
A rapid-acting insulin is a type of insulin that starts working within 15 minutes of injection, peaks in about one hour, and continues to work for 2 to 4 hours. It is used to control blood sugar spikes during meals. Insulins like Humalog, Novolog, and Apidra are rapid-acting and are often taken just before or after meals.
Short-acting insulin, also known as regular insulin, begins to lower blood sugar within 30 minutes of injection, has a peak effect between 2 to 3 hours, and lasts for about 5 to 8 hours. It is typically taken before meals. Short-acting insulins like Humulin R and Novolin R are used to control blood sugar spikes during meals and are usually injected 30 minutes before eating.
Toujeo (insulin glargine) is a long-acting insulin analog used to control high blood sugar in people with diabetes. It has a prolonged duration of action, lasting up to 36 hours, and provides a steady insulin release. Toujeo is typically injected once daily to provide a consistent insulin level, often combined with mealtime insulin for comprehensive blood sugar management.
Very-long-acting insulins are types of insulin that have an extended duration of action, typically lasting longer than 24 hours, and are used to maintain steady blood sugar levels throughout the day and night. Insulins like Toujeo and Tresiba are very-long-acting, providing a stable and prolonged insulin release, often requiring only once-daily dosing.
Nutrition and Diet
Aspartame is an artificial, low-calorie sweetener used as a sugar substitute in many foods and beverages. It is about 200 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) and is commonly found in diet sodas, sugar-free gum, and sugar-free desserts. Aspartame is broken down in the body into phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol.
A person with diabetes might choose a diet soda sweetened with aspartame instead of a regular soda to avoid the high sugar content and subsequent blood sugar spike.
The glycemic index (GI) is a value used to measure how much specific foods increase blood sugar levels. Foods are ranked on a scale from 0 to 100. Foods with a high GI are rapidly digested and absorbed, causing a quick rise in blood sugar levels, while foods with a low GI are digested and absorbed more slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar. The GI is a useful tool for dietary planning, especially for people managing diabetes, as it helps in choosing foods that can lead to more stable blood sugar levels.
Foods like white bread and short-grain white rice have a high glycemic index (above 70), meaning they cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. In contrast, foods like legumes and whole grains have a lower GI (below 55), leading to a slower and more gradual rise in blood sugar. A person with diabetes might choose lower GI foods to help maintain better blood sugar control.
Glycemic Load (GL) is a number that estimates how much a food will raise a person’s blood glucose level after eating it. Unlike the glycemic index, which does not take portion size into account, glycemic load factors in the amount of carbohydrates in a serving of food to give a more accurate representation of its impact on blood sugar.
While watermelon has a high glycemic index, its glycemic load is relatively low because a standard serving of watermelon contains relatively few carbohydrates.
A Low-GI Diet involves selecting foods with a low glycemic index (GI). These foods are digested and absorbed more slowly, leading to a slower rise in blood sugar levels. This type of diet is beneficial for blood sugar control and is often recommended for people with diabetes. In a Low-GI Diet, an individual might choose brown rice and whole-grain bread over white rice and white bread, as whole grains typically have a lower glycemic index.
LDL cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, is a type of cholesterol that can build up in the walls of blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. High levels of LDL cholesterol are particularly concerning in individuals with diabetes, as they are more prone to cardiovascular diseases.
Sugar alcohols are a type of reduced-calorie sweetener used in many sugar-free and reduced-sugar foods. They have a chemical structure that resembles both sugar and alcohol but do not contain ethanol as alcoholic beverages do. Examples include xylitol, erythritol, sorbitol, and mannitol. Sugar alcohols have fewer calories than sugar and do not affect blood sugar levels as much as other carbohydrates.
Sucrose, commonly known as table sugar, is a natural carbohydrate found in many plants. It is composed of two molecules: glucose and fructose. Sucrose is widely used in the food industry and in cooking as a sweetener. Sucrose is found in various foods, including baked goods, candies, and soft drinks, and is often what “added sugar” means on food labels.
Sugar refers to sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. Simple sugars include glucose, fructose, and sucrose. Sugar is a quick source of energy, but its excessive consumption is linked to various health issues, including diabetes and obesity. Sugar is commonly added to desserts, cereals, and beverages to enhance their flavor. Individuals with diabetes are often advised to monitor and limit their sugar intake to control blood sugar levels.
Complications (of diabetes)
Complications of diabetes are various medical problems that can arise as a result of prolonged high blood sugar levels. These complications can affect various parts of the body and include cardiovascular disease, nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney damage (nephropathy), eye damage (retinopathy), foot damage, skin conditions, and more.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones. It typically arises when the body cannot use glucose for fuel due to a lack of insulin and instead burns fat, leading to a buildup of ketones in the blood and urine. DKA is more common in Type 1 diabetes but can also occur in Type 2 diabetes under certain conditions.
Symptoms of DKA may include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, rapid breathing, and a fruity scent on the breath. It often requires hospitalization and urgent treatment with insulin and fluids.
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that is first diagnosed during pregnancy. It is characterized by high blood sugar levels that affect pregnancy and the baby’s health. Gestational diabetes usually resolves after pregnancy but increases the mother’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Pregnant women are typically screened for gestational diabetes through a glucose tolerance test. If diagnosed, management includes monitoring blood sugar levels, dietary changes, and exercise; insulin therapy may be needed in some cases.
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, which is vital for good vision. This damage is often caused by abnormally high pressure in the eye and can lead to blindness if not treated. While not directly related to diabetes, people with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma.
Regular eye exams can help detect glaucoma early. Treatment may include eye drops, laser treatment, or surgery to lower eye pressure and prevent further damage to the optic nerve.
Ketosis is a metabolic state characterized by raised levels of ketones in the body, resulting from the breakdown of fats due to a low intake of carbohydrates. Ketosis is not harmful in a controlled, dietary context (such as a ketogenic diet) but should not be confused with the dangerous condition of diabetic ketoacidosis.
In a ketogenic diet, the body enters a state of ketosis, using fat as its primary energy source instead of carbohydrates, which can lead to weight loss and other health benefits for some individuals.
Neuropathy refers to nerve damage, often caused by high blood sugar levels over time in people with diabetes. It most commonly affects the nerves in the feet and legs but can also impact other body parts. A common symptom of diabetic neuropathy is numbness or tinging in the feet or hands, often experienced by individuals with long-term diabetes.
Retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the eyes. It is caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina). Diabetic retinopathy can lead to vision impairment and even blindness if not properly managed. Regular eye exams can help detect diabetic retinopathy early, allowing for treatments that can slow or prevent vision loss in diabetic individuals.
Abbott is a healthcare company that offers a range of diabetes care products, including the FreeStyle series of blood glucose monitoring systems and the FreeStyle Libre, a continuous glucose monitoring system.
A global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on discovering, developing, and commercializing prescription medicines, including diabetes medications like Farxiga (dapagliflozin).
Bayer’s diabetes care division offers blood glucose meters and other diabetes management tools designed to simplify the lives of people with diabetes.
Specializing in continuous glucose monitoring systems, Dexcom’s products, like the Dexcom G6, provide real-time glucose readings, data-sharing capabilities, and alerts for high and low blood sugar levels.
Eli Lilly and Company
An American pharmaceutical company with a significant presence in the diabetes care market. They produce insulins like Humalog and Basaglar and other diabetes medications and treatment solutions.
Insulet is known for its Omnipod Insulin Management System, a tubeless, waterproof insulin pump that delivers insulin without multiple daily injections.
Johnson & Johnson (LifeScan, Inc.)
Previously part of Johnson & Johnson, LifeScan, Inc. is known for its OneTouch brand of blood glucose monitoring systems, widely used in diabetes management.
Known for its advanced medical technology, Medtronic produces continuous glucose monitoring systems and insulin pumps, helping individuals with diabetes manage their condition more effectively.
A global healthcare company with more than 95 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. Novo Nordisk manufactures a wide range of diabetes products, including insulin, pen needles, and devices for blood sugar monitoring.
Roche Diabetes Care
A division of the global healthcare company Roche, Roche Diabetes Care is known for its Accu-Chek line of blood glucose meters, insulin pumps, and lancing devices.
Sanofi is a multinational pharmaceutical company that provides various diabetes solutions, including insulin products like Lantus and Apidra, and blood glucose monitoring systems.
Tandem Diabetes Care
Tandem Diabetes Care designs and manufactures insulin pumps, such as the t:slim X2, known for their touch screen interface and integration with continuous glucose monitoring systems.