Ask Dr. Dunn: Diabetes
By Maren Dunn, D.O. ExploreBigSky.com Health Writer
I’m worried I might have diabetes.
What are the symptoms and how is it
Type 2 diabetes, formerly called “lateonset diabetes,” is a major health problem in the U.S. Currently, 8 percent of
the population has the illness, while up
to 25 percent remains undiagnosed, and
these numbers continue to rise. Type 2
diabetes, which results from high blood
sugar, can eventually cause problems
with eyesight, healing, kidney function,
sensation in the extremities and increased risk of heart attack. That’s why
it’s important to diagnose the illness as
early as possible.
Diagnosis is usually based on physical
symptoms and blood test results. Diabetic symptoms can include excessive thirst or hunger, frequent urination, fatigue or weight gain. In type 2
diabetics, these symptoms can go unnoticed due
to the relatively slow progression of the disease.
So, screening with blood tests has become the
standard for detecting the illness.
The blood tests include a fasting plasma glucose, twohour oral glucose tolerance test or glycated hemoglobin. If any of these are positive for diabetes, a second
test will be run to confirm the result. If the tests are
abnormal, but not high enough to qualify for diabetes,
you’re considered pre-diabetic and can expect to repeat
the test in six months.
Certain key risk factors increase the likelihood
of having diabetes. These include: being overweight, being older than 45, having an inactive
lifestyle, having a family history of diabetes,
having a personal history of gestational diabetes,
having high blood pressure, having high cholesterol, and having a history of polycystic ovarian
If you’re at risk or have diabetic symptoms, see
your healthcare provider immediately so you can
learn how to manage the illness appropriately and
Maren Dunn, D.O., is owner of Gallatin Family Medicine, a medical clinic
in the Big Sky Meadow Village. Have a
question? Email her at