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Friday, May 24, 2013
Many people have diabetes for years before it is ever diagnosed. In fact, nearly 1/3 of diabetics are undiagnosed.
Warning signs that indicate a doctor's visit is necessary include:
It is good to keep in mind that simply having one or more of these symptoms does not automatically mean that you have diabetes. To check your risk, the American Diabetes Association has a Diabetes Risk Test that you can take online.
If your physician suspects the possibility that you have diabetes, he or she may have you take some of the following tests.
Because eating food raises your blood glucose level, you will need to fast before you take this test. Fasting means that you do not eat for a period of time, usually 12 hours before the test. After you have fasted for 12 hours, the amount of glucose in your blood will be measured to determine if you have diabetes.
The glucose level in a healthy person stays below 126 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL). If your level is higher than this, your sugar level is elevated, and you will likely need to take more tests to determine if you have diabetes. Even values above 100 mg/dL are considered abnormal and could be a sign of a pre-diabetes state called Impaired Glucose Tolerance.
The fasting blood glucose test tends to be the preferred test because it is very easy to perform.
After fasting from food and drink for at least eight hours, you will be given a drink containing a measured amount of glucose. Several blood samples are drawn for two hours afterward, and the levels of blood glucose are measured and recorded.
- A reading over 200 mg/dL blood glucose indicates diabetes.
- A reading between 150 and 200 mg/dL is a grey area. At this level, you may be "pre-diabetic," which means you may be at risk for developing diabetes.
- Blood glucose levels in a diabetic will rise faster and stay higher longer than in a healthy person.
This test is the most accurate way to diagnose diabetes.
Blood glucose levels can be tested at any time with a finger prick and a glucose monitor. Because food and drink can cause your glucose levels to change drastically, a health professional usually does this test after a meal. If the levels look suspiciously high, your doctor will likely order a fasting test.
If you are a diabetic, the following tests can help you manage your diabetes.
Glucose levels can rise and fall quite dramatically, so you need to measure your glucose levels several times a day to keep a close watch on the levels.
- If there is too much sugar in the blood, either too many sugars or carbohydrates were eaten, or not enough insulin was taken.
- At low blood sugar levels, the opposite is true. Either not enough sugars or carbohydrates were consumed, or too much insulin or oral medicine was taken.
However, many diabetics are able to manage their blood sugar levels without taking insulin. They do this by carefully controlling their diet and exercise habits.
The hemoglobin A1 C Test monitors long-term trends and how well a diabetic is controlling his or her blood sugar. It can give accurate readings without being affected by current glucose levels.
Glucose tends to attach itself to a protein in the blood called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the iron-containing protein that carries oxygen and colors the blood red. Glucose combined with hemoglobin results in a new compound called “glycohemoglobin”.
This test measures the percentage of hemoglobin in the body that is made of up this new compound, glycohemoglobin.
- Healthy people usually have less than 7% of the hemoglobin in their body made up of glycohemoglobin. This means that less than 7% of the hemoglobin in the body has glucose attached to it.
- Readings above this 7% marker mean that sugar levels are not being controlled very well over the last several months.
Doing this test regularly over a period of time shows how well a diabetic is controlling overall glucose levels, instead of how well it is being controlled at that moment.
This article is a NetWellness exclusive.
Last Reviewed: Dec 07, 2012
Robert M Cohen, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati
Bette K Idemoto, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, CCRN
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing
Case Western Reserve University