More than 30 million Americans have diabetes and are presently facing its devastating consequences. But the truth remains that not everyone that has diabetes knows they have it.
In actual fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have indicated that over a quarter of people living with diabetes are yet to be diagnosed.
In most cases, diabetes symptoms do not show up during the early stages. Nevertheless, the following symptoms should be enough for you to get yourself tested immediately for diabetes:
- Unclear and poor vision
- Physical exhaustion or fatigue
- Urinating more often
- Feeling thirsty more frequently
- Wounds or cuts that take longer than usual to heal
Although these symptoms are common signs that indicate the presence of diabetes, it is imperative that people go for tests even if no symptoms exist.
If you have a body mass index (BMI) is more than 25, then you are categorized as ‘overweight’ and must go for diabetes tests. People who have a long family history of diabetes should also consider testing for this medical disorder. People who have high blood pressure or display low levels of physical activity should also go for diabetes tests.
Women that are over forty-five years of age or have a history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) must go for a diabetes test. Some individuals may not have any of these symptoms but may observe that their blood sugar level is abnormally high. This indicates an onset of diabetes and can only be discovered or controlled by such a person after going for routine health checks.
What are the different methods to test for diabetes?
#1: Blood Tests for Diabetes
In this category, tests for diabetes can be determined via several methods which involve blood tests. The different types of the blood tests are outlined below:
- Fasting blood sugar (FBS)
You will be required to fast for at least eight to twelve hours before going for the diabetes test. Your blood is drawn and if the results show anything less than 100 mg/dl (5.6 mmol/L), then it implies you have normal blood sugar. Results that range from 100-125 mg/dl (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) indicates prediabetes while anything equivalent to or more than 126 mg/dl (7 mmol/L) is a sign that you have diabetes.
This is one of the best methods of determining the presence of diabetes in the human body. Glycated hemoglobin test (a.k.a. HbA1C test) is carried out without the need for fasting and can be used to assess blood sugar levels over a two to three-month period.
A small amount of blood is extracted and the HbA1C level in the blood gives an indication of the average amount of blood sugar over the last three months.
If the reading shows below 5.7%, then it implies that you are not diabetic. Readings between 5.7% to 6.4% is an indication of prediabetes while anything that is equal to or above 6.5% is a strong signal that indicates diabetes.
People who have special hemoglobin variant or pregnant women may show different HbA1C test readings which may be erroneous. In such cases, your doctor will likely suggest you undertake any of the other types of tests for diabetes.
- OGTT (Oral Glucose Tolerance Test)
The OGTT test is a two-hour test that involves the checking of your blood glucose levels (before fasting blood sugar test) and two hours after drinking a prepared sweet drink that is composed of 75-gm of glucose.
It informs your doctor about how your body processes sugar or glucose. Diabetes is detected and diagnosed with two-hour blood glucose that is equal to or more than 200 mg/dl. For results that show within the range of 140-199 mg/dl, that is a symptom of prediabetes while anything less than 140 mg/dl is normal.
During a random blood sugar test, blood can be drawn at any time without regard to fasting. A result showing equal to or more than 200 mg/dl with diabetic symptoms often indicate diabetes.
People with diabetes are exposed to high risk of heart problems which is why it is highly crucial that you go for blood tests for lipids such as low-density lipoprotein, cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein, etc. This test should be part of your yearly health check. Your doctor should be informed if your lipid levels are high.
#2: Blood Pressure
Most times, hypertension and diabetes occur simultaneously which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Check your blood pressure from time to time, at least every three to six months. A person with diabetes must maintain their blood pressure between 140 mmHg systolic and 90 mmHg diastolic.
#3: Kidney Function Test
This test is done to confirm how functional your kidneys are and should be done at least once annually. The ratio of microalbumin and creatinine tells your physician whether or not your kidneys are functioning optimally.
#4: Eye Examination
Micro-vascular damage is one of the results of having high levels of blood sugar. Health professionals recommend that you go for yearly eye tests to check for early complications of diabetes. This is possible via edema, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.
#5: ECG (Electrocardiogram)
For people who are fifty years and above and living with diabetes, you need to make sure that your doctor incorporates an ECG in your regular medical tests. Most symptoms of heart disease are difficult to spot, especially if the patient has diabetes.
Early detection can make a huge difference when it comes to maintaining and preventing diabetes. If you notice any signs and symptoms as stated above, then you should see your doctor get you checked out.
Does it mean you only have to experience the symptoms before you go for a check? No. it is recommended you check yourself for diabetes at least once in a year to ensure your blood sugar is within normal range.
1. Karen Kemmis. (2017, July 26). The 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report is Here. American Association of Diabetes Educators. Retrieved from https://www.diabeteseducator.org/news/aade-blog/aade-blog-details/karen-kemmis-pt-dpt-ms-cde-faade/2017/07/26/the-2017-national-diabetes-statistics-report-is-here
2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2017, Sept). Diabetes Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/diabetes-statistics
3. (2017). Polycystic ovary syndrome. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/syc-20353439
4. (2018. March 04). Diabetes. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20371451
5. Huo, X., Gao, L., Guo, L. (2016). Risk of non-fatal cardiovascular diseases in early-onset versus late-onset type 2 diabetes in China: a cross-sectional study. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. 2016;4(2):115–124. Retrieved from https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-complications/heart-disease.html
6. American Heart Association. (2015, Sept 11). Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/DiagnosingaHeartAttack/Electrocardiogram-ECG-or-EKG_UCM_309050_Article.jsp#.WvF8Ivkvy00