Getting Tested for Diabetes
You can determine whether you have diabetes by having the levels of glucose in the bloodstream measured. Before you take a test for diabetes, it is recommended that you go without anything but water for at least nine to twelve hours, as when getting your cholesterol tested.
“Prediabetes,” or impaired fasting glucose, is a condition characterized by higher-than-normal blood-glucose levels that are not high enough for diagnosis as Type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that almost 20 million Americans have prediabetes. If you have this condition, work with your physician right away to start taking steps to lower your blood-sugar levels.
A normal result for a fasting glucose test is between 65 and 109mg/dL. A result that is between 110 to 125mg/dL could indicate an impaired fasting glucose level, also known as prediabetes. Like prehypertension, this may require more frequent monitoring or lifestyle changes. A result that is higher than 126mg/dL could indicate diabetes.
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes
People often disregard the symptoms of diabetes. However, studies indicate that if diabetes is detected early, people can reduce the likelihood that complications will develop. Therefore, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of diabetes, particularly if you have a family history of this disease. The signs and symptoms of diabetes include the following:
Unusual weight loss
Numbness or tingling in feet or legs
Slow-healing cuts or bruises
Types of Tests
To test your blood-glucose levels, you can either have a finger-prick fasting blood sugar test, or you can have a hemoglobin A1C test. The tests differ in that a finger-prick test provides a measure of your blood sugar at the moment of the test, while the hemoglobin A1C test shows the regulation of your blood sugar over the past three-month period by analyzing the hemoglobin, instead of simply the sugar levels. In order to establish a diagnosis of diabetes, a hemoglobin A1C test is necessary.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes take the hemoglobin A1C test two to four times a year. The hemoglobin A1C test does not replace daily self-testing but rather provides a method to assess your success with blood sugar management over time. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a home test. Check with your health care provider to see if it is appropriate for you.
Approximately 1 million people are diagnosed with diabetes every year. The percentage of American adults with diagnosed diabetes, including women with a history of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy), has soared over the past two decades. Minority racial and ethnic populations are particularly at risk of developing the disease.
Fortunately, getting tested for diabetes and high blood pressure is quite easy. Oftentimes workplaces or health fairs will put on health screenings that will check your blood pressure and blood sugar for free. As with cholesterol, to get a true blood sugar measurement you should fast for at least nine hours prior to getting tested, as meals or many drinks will falsely elevate your blood sugar. Even salty meals can temporarily elevate your blood pressure, as can nervousness or going through normal bodily cycles based on the time of day.
Make sure to get repeated checks, ideally by your health care provider, before establishing a diagnosis of diabetes or hypertension. These screenings are meant to increase awareness regarding yourself and the disease in general. If during these screenings your blood pressure or sugar is elevated, you should consult with your health care provider. Do this promptly, but not necessarily emergently. Remember, diabetes and hypertension are silent killers. This means they linger for years and years harming your body. Having high blood pressure or sugar for a day, week, month, or even longer is not necessarily that harmful. However, carrying these risks for years will do you harm.