Diabetes Screening and Treatment

What is diabetes?

diabetes finger prick with device

Diabetes is a chronic disease where your body cannot convert food into energy, resulting in high blood sugar levels. Due to low levels of insulin, the glucose from the food we eat is no longer circulated around the cells of the body, leading it to build up in the blood.

There are two main types of diabetes treated by endocrinologists: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is less common and Type 2 is becoming increasingly prevalent and often appears later in life. Another form is gestational diabetes, which can occur during pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

pregnant mother with child on sofa

The following are some symptoms of diabetes:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Extreme, unexplained hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Sores or injuries that fail to heal
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet

What are the causes of and risk factors for diabetes?

The causes of the two types of diabetes are quite different. Type 1 diabetes may be genetic or triggered by environmental factors such as a virus that attacks the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes is more common and can be caused by lifestyle factors such as being overweight and inactive. Genetics may also play a part.

The main risk factors for Type 1 diabetes include family history, genetics and age. In Type 2 diabetes, the major risk factors are weight, fat distribution, inactivity, family history, ethnicity, age, gestational diabetes, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Enquire with our endocrinologists.

Did you know?

The Singapore Chinese Health Study found that red meat and poultry intake were linked to a higher rate of Type 2 diabetes. 1

What are the possible complications of diabetes?

diabetes finger pricking

If untreated or inadequately managed, diabetes can lead to serious complications. Some of these are listed below:

  • Eye damage
  • Kidney disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Foot damage
  • Skin conditions
  • Hearing impairment
  • or Alzheimer’s disease.

When should I see a specialist for diabetes?

As soon as you experience symptoms that may be indicative of diabetes, or are referred to by your general practitioner, it is advisable to visit an endocrinologist. Early detection and rapid treatment are key to successfully managing your symptoms and maintaining quality of life.

How should I prepare for my appointment?

When you visit your endocrinologist, be prepared to discuss your symptoms and the related timeline. In addition, it is important to compile a list of medications or vitamins you are currently taking, with information on any allergies you may have, as well as complete details of your medical history, and your family’s. Your endocrinologist may also ask you about your habits, lifestyle, and any recent personal stress or anxieties.

How do specialists screen for and diagnose diabetes?

Endocrinologists screen for diabetes with a simple blood glucose test. This needs to be done after 8 hours of fasting. Screening is generally for patients with a number of risk factors. To diagnose diabetes, endocrinologists perform a Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test, an oral glucose tolerance test, or a random blood sugar test. They may also test your urine.

What treatments are available for diabetes?

In treating diabetes, it is essential to maintain a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Light, regular exercise is important too. In addition, Type 1 diabetes requires insulin injections or the use of an insulin pump as well as blood sugar checks and the counting of carbohydrates. Type 2 diabetes involves the careful monitoring of blood sugar as well as taking diabetes medicine or insulin.

Request an appointment with an endocrinologist today.

[1] Talaei M, Wang YL, Yuan JM, Pan A, Koh WP. Meat, Dietary Heme Iron, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: The Singapore Chinese Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2017 Oct 1;186(7):824-833. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwx156.