I want to encourage all of our readers who posted their questions or emailed me privately. I hope to address all your question; the intelligent ones and the simple ones as well. However, I will respond mostly to inquiries regarding diabetes and metabolic syndrome. I don’t want to fool you or fool myself that I have the answers to subjects that are out of my expertise.
Several readers who have type I diabetes became alarmed after our previous post. They were concerned that all the issues associated with metabolic syndrome may be relevant to them. I therefore want to reiterate the difference between type I and type II diabetes to clarify that type I diabetes has no connection with metabolic syndrome disease. Diabetes by definition is elevated blood sugar. Because people with type I and type II could have high blood sugar, they are both called diabetics. However, the truth is that they are as different as chalk and cheese.
In a nutshell, following is the difference between the two. One of the organs in every human being is called the pancreas which produces insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates our blood sugar levels. In a person with type I diabetes, his body will almost completely stop to produce insulin. Ninety years ago, when we didn’t yet have the ability to replace these hormones, people with type I diabetes where in big trouble. Thankfully, today it could be easily replaced so well that these people can continue living regular, healthy and productive lives. Type ones can now lead perfectly normal lives without any limitations. They can do anything anyone else can do; they can eat anything else anyone else can eat – even sugar. When a regular person eats sugar, his body will produce insulin. A person with type I diabetes, will need to supplement with insulin instead. In short, people with type I diabetes aren’t sick if they do what they need to be doing. They can be healthy and strong and have a lifespan like any healthy individual.
So to all the concerned type I diabetics who became alarmed unnecessarily after our previous post, especially the one who wrote, “I read about all the diseases that you’ve mentioned are connected to diabetes. Being that I have type I diabetes, are you saying that I will suffer and develop those illnesses?” No need to panic. The answer is absolutely not! My intention was not to scare anybody. Instead, my goal was and continues to be to spread awareness so that people can make a conscious decision regarding their health.
Now what is type II diabetes? Type II diabetes is a totally different complicated situation that involves various illnesses. In a person with type II diabetes, the body produces insulin, however, it cannot do its function which is to regulate the blood sugar levels. Therefore, type II diabetics are a lot more limited, they need to take medications, etc…etc…
Some readers where asking what the symptoms of diabetes are. The answer for type I diabetes is that it is impossible to measure. People who have type I diabetes will discover that they have it very soon. On the other hand, we don’t want people with type II diabetes to wait until they feel any symptoms. It is estimated that people only discover that they have type II diabetes after their body has struggled with it for ten years and they had no idea that there was anything wrong! If we want to estimate for how long they had metabolic syndrome or pre-diabetes, it would probably be about twenty years or more prior to being diagnosed. They call it a silent killer and rightfully so. The victim is unaware that anything is going on while serious plans are being developed. I won’t mention symptoms now because as I wrote before, we want to prevent the symptoms from surfacing altogether. Instead, I want to create the awareness for people at risk to take the necessary test. More details regarding who is at risk will follow in future posts.
There is a very important test that all people with diabetes and everyone at risk should be aware of. Unfortunately, statistics show that only one-quarter of people with diabetes know about it; three-quarter of them don’t. Even those who do know about this test, don’t know what their results are. It’s time to change these statistics. Please help us spread the word by sharing our website to your family and friends! The name of this test is Hemoglobin A1C, abbreviated on lab results as HbA1C. Hemoglobin A1C shows what the average of the blood sugar level was for the past three months. What we test at home via a blood glucose monitor, only shows the blood sugar level during that moment. The A1C shows an entire picture of what transpired during the past three months.
How does it work? There is one part of the red blood cells that is called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen from our lungs to all or our tissues and returns carbon dioxide from our body’s tissues back to the lungs to be exhaled. Sugar continuously circulates the blood and it binds to the hemoglobin. If our blood sugar level is normal, only a small percentage will bind to the hemoglobin. If more sugar is circulating in the blood, a larger percent of it is bound to the hemoglobin.
The Hemoglobin A1C test will show an estimate of the percentage of sugar that was bound to the hemoglobin over the preceding 3 months. Since hemoglobin is regenerated about every three months, it will only have a memory of so long.
It works similar to the memory of a cellular phone. If you want to see whom you called last week Tuesday, you”ll go back to the call log and you can see exactly all incoming and outgoing calls during that time. So too, the hemoglobin A1C is the memory of the blood sugar level of the previous months. The blood glucose meter home kit will show the current status; the hemoglobin A1C on the other hand, is like a camcorder that films everything 24 hours a day.
A person who doesn’t have diabetes will usually have a hemoglobin A1C between 4-6%. The results for a person with diabetes will depend how elevated his levels where. The higher his results will be, the more at risk the person is to suffer of serious complication from his diabetes.
The standard recommendation is to shoot for a goal of less than 7%. Even if it is very hard, it is well worth it because the lower you number is, the healthier you will be. Most doctors will perform this test every six months. Sometimes it may be necessary to test more frequently because of a new medication that was introduced and the doctor wants to see how well it works. The doctor will then retest after about three months.
It is also important to note that each laboratory works a little differently. It is therefore advised to look at their normal range to see if you are within range or above it which is a warning sign. Following is a basic interpretation of the blood sugar level for each percentage:
6%=135 sugar level
7%=170 sugar level
8%=205 sugar level
9%=240 sugar level
I won’t go above 9% because reaching those numbers are very dangerous and need immediate attention by a healthcare professional.
I want to clarify that these percentages are an average which means that sometimes the blood sugar levels were lower and sometimes they were higher than your average. In other words, if a person has a 6% which is an average of 135, it is possible that her or his blood sugar level was 155 many times and 110 other times and therefore reached an average of 135 or 6%.
Still, the hemoglobin A1C is the best test that is available to-date and usually a percentage in-range indicates that a persons blood sugar is well controlled.
Now is the time to take out your lab results and look for HbA1C to see what your results were and take action if necessary. If you haven’t had this test in the past 6 months, request one from your physician to make sure that your blood sugar is at a healthy level.
It is interesting to note that the A1C is frequently used for research such as to test new medications or new diets or to compare two diets to see which one is better in controlling glucose levels. If the method used can reduce the A1C by a full percent, it is usually a good indication of a successful method in treating diabetes.
It is currently the gold standard in the industry despite the fact that it isn’t completely accurate. However, a diagnosis will usually be made when a doctor sees the immediate results of a blood glucose meter. A1C is also very helpful for doctors and family members to see how well the patient complies and if the patient needs more encouragement.
What can be done to keep my hemoglobin A1C in range? What can be done to reduce blood glucose level? Stay tuned for for a wealth of information that will follow!
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