Diabetes Signs, Screening and Treatment


Diabetes is among the most common endocrine disorders among adults. However, the condition can be successfully managed using a combination of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic approaches. The following discussion identifies common signs and symptoms of the disorder, lists available screening and diagnostic tools, and outlines relevant pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatment plans.

Signs and Symptoms

The majority of diabetes symptoms are caused by the excessive amounts of glucose in the blood. One of the most common signs is the increased feeling of hunger. Glucose is one of the sources of energy obtained through food consumption. The deficiency of insulin observed during diabetes prevents cells from converting glucose into energy. Thus, the energy obtained from food consumption is not fully processed, leading to the feeling of hunger. At the same time, the insufficient amounts of insulin create energy deficiency which can manifest in the form of weakness and fatigue.

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Another common sign of diabetes is the increase in the frequency of urination. Normally, glucose is partially absorbed when it passes through kidneys. Thus, in order to address this deficiency, the body generates urine in larger volumes (American Diabetes Association, n.d.). This change also results in the need for additional hydration, leading to an increase in thirst. In addition, dehydration caused by the described process can reduce moisture in other organs, creating a sense of dryness in the mouth and itchy skin. Finally, in some cases, the swelling of lenses in the eyes as a result of a change in bodily fluid balance impairs their ability to focus, leading to blurred vision.

Screening Assessment Tools

As can be seen, the majority of symptoms are consistent with a wide range of health conditions, which complicates the timely detection of the disease. In order to address this challenge, a number of screening tools were developed by different organizations. One example of such a tool is the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test, a concise one-page test that lists the most common risk factors associated with the disease and provides recommendations based on the obtained score. A similar approach is utilized in the diabetes risk calculator, a tool that offers a simple and reliable way of calculating the probability of undiagnosed diabetes (Diabetes Education Services, n.d.). A number of interactive online tools are available from different providers that are based on the same approach and simplify the calculation process.

Once the possibility of diabetes is identified by a screening test, a clinician may choose to prescribe diagnostic tests to assist the diagnostic process. Three tests are commonly used for diagnosing the condition. First, a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test may be used, which measures the level of glucose in the blood. Second, a random plasma glucose test may be necessary, which does not require fasting prior to sampling. Finally, an A1C blood test can be used, which measures the average blood glucose level over a given period of time.

Treatment Plans

The current clinical practice guidelines offer a number of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatment plans for patients with diabetes. The non-pharmacologic approaches are oriented primarily to known risk factors associated with the condition. Thus, the most feasible strategy includes behavioral modifications and responsible monitoring practices. The patients are taught to measure and interpret blood glucose levels and adjust their dietary habits accordingly.

The recommended diet is based primarily on low-fat, high-fiber foods. Physical activity is also known to have a positive effect on the patients’ health. Pharmacologic treatment may be necessary in the cases where diet and exercise are insufficient for maintaining the target level of blood sugar. The most common examples of diabetes medications include Metformin, meglitinides, and sulfonylureas.

Conclusion

As can be seen, diabetes can be successfully treated via non-pharmacologic means. However, it requires sufficient patient involvement. In addition, the success of treatment depends on the stage of the disorder. Thus, it is necessary to equip the patients with tools and knowledge for timely detection of the condition.

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References

American Diabetes Association. (n.d.). Diabetes symptoms. Web.

Diabetes Education Services. (n.d.). Screening tools for diabetes. Web.

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