Diabetology deals with the prevention, treatment and complications of diabetes.
Diabetes is the most common metabolic disorder in Hungary. It is caused by the lack of insulin – which is normally produced by the pancreas – or the body’s insensitivity to insulin (insulin resistance, relative insulin deficiency). The disease is indicated by the abnormal increase in blood sugar levels. Complications of diabetes reduce the patients’ quality of life and life expectancy, so it is important to start the treatment in time, right after an early diagnosis.
There are several types of diabetes:
- Prediabetes is a condition that precedes diabetes; it’s characterised by a blood sugar level that is higher than the normal value.
- In type 1 diabetes mellitus, insulin deficiency is caused by the destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, which leads to the imbalances in blood sugar levels. The disease may develop at any age; it cannot be cured, but it can be effectively treated with regular insulin supplementation.
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a result of insulin resistance, which leads to alterations in blood sugar levels, followed by diabetes. This is the most common type of diabetes, which usually develops over the age of 40. The disease can be mitigated chiefly with a change in lifestyle, a healthy diet and physical activity, and in some cases, medical treatment is prescribed. The disease often co-occurs with high blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol, which accelerate the development of atherosclerosis.
What complaints should prompt you to visit a diabetologist?
The typical symptoms of diabetes include permanent thirst, fluid loss, frequent urination, nausea, weight loss, visual disorders, breath that smells like acetone, and susceptibility to infection.
Screening is recommended for everyone over the age of 45; at a younger age, patients with high risk factors (for example high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, obesity), and for those with a family history of diabetes should attend regular screenings.
What happens during a diabetology specialist appointment?
The diabetology specialist asks the patients in detail about their lifestyle, eating habits, medical history and whether diabetes occurred in their family. A blood sugar test and urinalysis are also performed. Treatment options are discussed after a physical examination. The specialist helps the patients in changing theirr lifestyle with personalised lifestyle advice, dietary suggestions, and sets the dosing of medications or insulin, if needed.
- Blood glucose tolerance test
An oral glucose tolerance test is a laboratory examination, which shows if the body has difficulties processing sugar. The examination is recommended if diabetes is suspected, in case of high risk factors, diabetes without symptoms and gestational diabetes. The test is performed in the morning, on an empty stomach, and two draws of blood are required. Two hours after the first draw of blood, blood is drawn for the second time – after a solution containing 75 g of glucose is consumed. Glucose tolerance can is assessed based on the change of the blood sugar level.
- Detection of HbA1c from the blood
The aim of this blood test is to show to what extent sugar binds to the oxygen-carrying haemoglobin molecule found in the red blood cells of the blood. The longer a high blood sugar level is present, the more haemoglobin subunits bind sugar. The examination is used to set up the diagnosis of diabetes and also for follow-up. The examination should be performed every three months for diabetic care.
If the patient passes sugar with urine, he/she most likely has diabetes, because urine does not normally contain glucose.