How Is Diabetes Diagnosed In Seniors?
Have you noticed your gums are red and swollen? Has Mom or Dad been complaining of blurry vision and headaches? What about dizziness or fainting?
All of these ailments are common symptoms of type 2 diabetes in seniors. If you or your loved one has been experiencing these symptoms, it’s a good idea to consult a medical professional and consider testing for diabetes.
But how will your doctor check for diabetes? What other symptoms should you watch for in you or your loved one?
Keep reading for an answer to those questions, plus a closer look at diabetes, signs, symptoms and how diabetes is diagnosed in seniors.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes affects how the body transforms food into energy. It’s a chronic condition, which means that someone who is diagnosed with diabetes will require long-term medical treatment throughout their life.
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not use insulin properly, creating an insulin resistance and causing blood sugar to become too high. This is the most common type of diabetes among seniors.
In addition to age, some other factors contribute to the risk of type 2 diabetes include:
- Lack of exercise and physical activity.
- Being overweight.
- High blood pressure.
- Family history.
- High cholesterol levels.
- Ethnicity and race.
Symptoms Of Type 2 Diabetes In Seniors
While signs and symptoms present differently for everyone, there are a few common signs of type 2 diabetes to look out for.
Common symptoms of type 2 diabetes in seniors include:
- Increase in thirst and urination.
- Slow healing sores.
- Dizziness and/or fainting.
- Numbness in hands and feet.
- Blurry vision.
- Increased appetite.
- Gum problems.
- Dry mouth.
If you or a loved one is experiencing signs or symptoms of diabetes, it is crucial to get it addressed immediately with a medical professional. If caught soon enough, prediabetes is reversible by making changes to lifestyle and diet.
Tests To Diagnose Type 2 Diabetes
There are a number of blood tests that can be done to check blood sugar levels for signs of type 2 diabetes:
The A1C test, also known as the hemoglobin A1C or HbA1c test, is a simple blood test that measures a person’s average blood sugar level over the past two or three months.
An A1C below 5.7% is normal, between 5.7% and 6.4% indicates you have prediabetes, and 6.5% or higher indicates you have diabetes.
Fasting Blood Sugar Test
For this blood test, your doctor will ask you to fast, or not have anything to eat or drink (except water) for 8 to 12 hours before your test.
A fasting blood sugar level of 99 mg/dL or lower is normal, 100 to 125 mg/dL indicates you have prediabetes, and 126 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes.
Glucose Tolerance Test
This test measures a person’s blood sugar before and after drinking a liquid that contains glucose to check how your body moves sugar in your blood.
Like a traditional fasting blood sugar test, a glucose tolerance test requires a person to fast overnight before having blood drawn to determine the fasting blood sugar level. Then, you will also be asked to drink the glucose dense liquid and have your blood sugar checked hourly to measure how your body is reacting to the sugar.
At 2 hours, a blood sugar level of 140 mg/dL or lower is considered normal, 140 to 199 mg/dL indicates you have prediabetes, and 200 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes.
Random Blood Sugar Test
This test can be done at any time because it’s meant to measure the blood sugar level on any given day. Many people have frequent random blood sugar tests to regularly keep tabs on their blood sugar. This test is taken at any time and a blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher is an indicator of diabetes.
How Seniors Can Manage A Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis
Currently, there is no cure for diabetes, but there are ways to control blood sugar through insulin, diet, oral medications and more. Medical providers will discuss several options with their patient and create a treatment plan that’s right for them.
Often, in addition to taking medications as prescribed, a health care provider will advise these lifestyle changes to help their patients manage their type 2 diabetes:
- Eat healthy food.
- Stay active.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Get diabetes self-management education and support.
- Make and keep health care appointments.