What is Diabetes?
Diabetes simply means the body has problem metabolizing the sugar or glucose. The pancreas produces a hormone known as insulin that helps getting the glucose into cells as fuels. People with diabetes either have malfunctioned pancreatic cells that does not produce sufficient insulin or the cells are not reacting to insulin properly. This then results in glucose accumulating in blood or excreted through urine. We will talk more on diabetes management or diabetes a1c below.
Types of diabetes
The diabetes is generally classified into three types, namely type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes as often found in children or young adults. It is generally thought that the beta cells in the pancreas do not produce insulin in this group of patients. Hence, most will need supplemental insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is the more commonly seen type. There are many risk factors associated with this condition including genetics, old age, diet, inactivity, obesity and ethnicity. Careful monitoring is essential for prevention of diabetes complications.
Gestational diabetes as the name suggests, usually occurs in late pregnancy. It pays to know that many who had this may develop type 2 diabetes later on in life.
What is HbA1c?
One commonly used term in diabetes management is HbA1c or the correct medical term, glycosylated (glycated) hemoglobin. Some even call it Diabetes A1C for simplicity sake. It is a measurement of average control of blood sugar level for the past 2 to 3 months.
The hemoglobin (a type of red blood cell) transform into glycosylated state when exposed to glucose in blood. And the glycosylated hemoglobin remains so until its life span of 120days. Therefore, by measuring the amount of glycosylated hemoglobin in blood will give a picture of how well diabetes has been managed for the past 3 months.
What Is Normal HbA1c Value?
There maybe some slight variants between institutions’ recommendations. But generally, normal hba1c value is recommended to be below either 7.0% or 6.5%. Sometimes the target for individual patient may differ due to other risk factors.
How often to do the Diabetes A1c test?
The American Diabetes Association has recommendation for at least 2 times of diabetes a1c test a year. Due to the nature of the test, which is measuring hemoglobin, it is not a surrogate for daily blood sugar level that is needed to adjust insulin doses. Therefore, it is crucial that people with diabetes check daily blood sugar level with a glucometer. Every 3 monthly HbA1c may be needed for some patients.
Does Diabetes Diet help?
There are many information out there that advocates tight sugar control with diet can help with diabetes. That is a fact. However, there is still ongoing debate on how to achieve that, either by starting low sugar diet or low glycemic index diet. Always do diabetes a1c once every 2-3 months to monitor your sugar level.