Sunday, September 9, 2007

Diabetes - Diagnostic Approach

Diagnostic approach
The diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, and many cases of type 2, is usually prompted by recent-onset symptoms of excessive urination (polyuria) and excessive thirst (polydipsia), often accompanied by weight loss. These symptoms typically worsen over days to weeks; about 25% of people with new type 1 diabetes have developed some degree of diabetic ketoacidosis by the time the diabetes is recognized. The diagnosis of other types of diabetes is usually made in other ways. The most common are (1) ordinary health screening, (2) detection of hyperglycemia when a doctor is investigating a complication of longstanding, though unrecognized, diabetes, and (3) new signs and symptoms due to the diabetes, such as vision changes or unexplainable fatigue.

Diabetes screening is recommended for many people at various stages of life, and for those with any of several risk factors. The screening test varies according to circumstances and local policy, and may be a random blood glucose test, a fasting blood glucose test, a blood glucose test two hours after 75 g of glucose, or an even more formal glucose tolerance test. Many healthcare providers recommend universal screening for adults at age 40 or 50, and often periodically thereafter. Earlier screening is typically recommended for those with risk factors such as obesity, family history of diabetes, high-risk ethnicity (Mestizo, Native American, African American, Pacific Island, and South Asian ancestry).
Many medical conditions are associated with diabetes and warrant screening. A partial list includes: high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, coronary artery disease, past gestational diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, chronic pancreatitis, fatty liver, hemochromatosis, cystic fibrosis, several mitochondrial neuropathies and myopathies, myotonic dystrophy, Friedreich's ataxia, some of the inherited forms of neonatal hyperinsulinism, etc. The risk of diabetes is higher with chronic use of several medications, including high-dose glucocorticoids, some chemotherapy agents (especially L-asparaginase), as well as some of the antipsychotics and mood stabilizers (especially phenothiazines and some atypical antipsychotics).
Diabetes is often detected when a person suffers a problem frequently caused by diabetes, such as a heart attack, stroke, neuropathy, poor wound healing or a foot ulcer, certain eye problems, certain fungal infections, or delivering a baby with macrosomia or hypoglycemia