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The more you understand about the disease, the better equipped you are to know what type of treatment is best for you. It’s important for you to know that millions of people who are diagnosed with diabetes go on to live normal, healthy and happy lives.

Diabetes is a medical condition where your body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or has a reduced response to insulin. Your body needs insulin to properly convert sugar, starches and other foods into energy for your body. Without enough insulin, your body’s blood sugar rises and your health is seriously compromised. No one knows for certain what causes diabetes but factors such as genetics, obesity and high blood pressure are known to play a role. Almost 24 million children and adults in the United States have the disease and unfortunately, almost 6 million people have yet to be diagnosed.

Risk factors:
  • Over 45 years old
  • Family history of diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • History of diabetes during pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Low physical activity
  • Certain groups have a higher risk of developing diabetes including African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as older people.
Symptoms:
  • Frequent urination
  • Tired
  • Thirsty
  • Hungry often
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Blurry vision
Overview of Types:

Type 1 diabetes: Previously known as juvenile diabetes, this type of diabetes is common with children and young adults under the age of 40. The body is not producing enough insulin so the cells are not receiving glucose from the blood for fuel. Type 1 diabetes is sometimes caused by a virus or an autoimmune disorder in which the body doesn’t recognize the pancreas (where insulin is made) as an organ of its own so it attacks it. People who have Type 1 diabetes take insulin injections to move sugar out of the bloodstream.

Type 2 diabetes: This is the most common type of diabetes. In Type 2 diabetes, inadequate amounts of insulin are being produced and/or the cells are ignoring the insulin. Some sugar is moved out of the blood, just not enough. This results in high blood sugars. Treatment can include a change in diet, exercise, and possibly medications. This type of diabetes is usually the result of physical inactivity and obesity.

Gestational diabetes: Pregnant women with high blood sugar during pregnancy but who have never had diabetes before are said to have gestational diabetes. Like all types of diabetes, the cause is unknown but the medical professionals believe that the hormones from the placenta block the mother’s insulin in her body. Insulin resistance prevents glucose from leaving the blood and changing to energy. Pregnant women need three times more insulin than women who aren’t pregnant. Hyperglycemia occurs when high levels of glucose build up in the blood.

Pre-diabetes: Blood glucose levels are higher than normal but aren’t high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Being diagnosed with pre-diabetes doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll develop into type 2 diabetes, especially if you manage your blood glucose properly by changing your diet and increasing your level of physical activity.

Complications:
Without adequate treatment, serious complications can arise including heart disease, blindness, and damage to the kidneys and nerves.

If you are at an increased risk of being diabetic, the good news is that Medicare usually covers a screening blood sugar test to check for diabetes as well as up to two screenings per year. To learn what tests and supplies are covered, call toll free1-800-Medicine (1-800-633-4246).

Tests:
There are two tests to check whether someone has pre-diabetes or diabetes: Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPG) or an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). The American Diabetes Association recommends the FPG because it is easier, faster, and less expensive to perform.

FPG: a fasting blood glucose level between 100 and 125 mg/dl indicates pre-diabetes and a level of 126 mg/dl or higher signals diabetes.

OGTT: after fasting and two hours after drinking a glucose-rich drink, a person's blood glucose level is measured. A blood glucose level between 140 and 199 mg/dl indicates pre-diabetes while a level over 200 mg/dl indicates the person tested has diabetes.

For a complete medical guide on Medicare and diabetes, please call us at toll-free at 1-800-Medicine (800-633-4246) or click here to have one of our representatives call you.
 
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