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Diabetes Tests

Overview of Diabetes

Diabetes, or Diabetes Mellitus, impacts how your body uses glucose, which is a vital energy source. Insulin is a hormone that helps transport glucose from your blood into cells. In diabetes, either your body can’t produce enough insulin or it doesn’t function correctly. This results in high blood glucose levels, leading to potential health issues like heart disease, nerve damage, eye problems, and kidney disease.

Diabetes tests check blood or urine glucose levels to determine if you’re at risk for or already have diabetes.

Why do I need a Diabetes Test?

You may need testing if you have symptoms of diabetes, such as:
  1. Increased thirst
  2. Frequent urination
  3. Increased hunger
  4. Fatigue
  5. Blurred vision
  6. Unexplained weight loss
  7. Sores that are slow to heal
  8. Numbness or tingling in the feet

Risk Factors

  1. Are over 45 years old. The American Diabetes Association recommends annual diabetes screening for all adults aged 45 years and older.
  2. Have a family history of diabetes.
  3. Have high blood pressure or heart disease.
  4. Previously I had gestational diabetes.

Who should get tested for Diabetes?

People with specific Risk Factors should consider diabetes testing even if they have no symptoms. Also,

You should get tested for diabetes if you are experiencing:

  1. Extreme thirst
  2. Feeling tired all the time
  3. Feeling very hungry, even after eating
  4. Blurry vision
  5. Frequent urination
  6. Sores or cuts that won’t heal

Will I need to do anything to prepare for this test?

For a fasting blood sugar test or an oral glucose tolerance test, you will need to fast (not eat or drink) for a specified period before the test. However, no special preparations are needed for a random blood sugar test, haemoglobin A1c test, or glucose in urine test.

Is there anything else I need to know about diabetes testing?

If you have TYPE1 DIABETES, you’ll need to monitor your blood glucose levels regularly, typically multiple times a day. You can use a home monitoring kit, which usually includes a lancet device to prick your finger and measure your blood sugar.

People with TYPE 2 DIABETES should regularly monitor their blood sugar levels, but the frequency may vary, so consult your healthcare provider for guidance. Additionally, checking insulin levels may be necessary since insulin helps regulate blood glucose levels.

Tests for Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, and Prediabetes

  1. A1C Test: This test checks your average blood sugar level over the past few months. A result below 5.7% is normal, 5.7% to 6.4% indicates prediabetes, and 6.5% or higher suggests diabetes.

Some individuals, especially those with kidney disease or haemoglobin variants, might get varied results with the A1C test. In such cases, your doctor may recommend alternative diabetes tests.

This test measured in Percentages:

Test ResultIndicated Condition
5.6% or lowerNormal
5.7% to 6.4%Prediabetes
6.5% or greaterDiabetes
  1. Fasting Blood Sugar Test: This test requires refraining from eating or drinking (except water) for at least eight hours. The blood sample is taken in the morning before breakfast.
RangeResult
70-100 mg/dLNormal
100-126 mg/dLPrediabetes
126 mg/dL +Diabetes
  1. Random Blood Sugar Test: This Test measures your blood sugar levels at the time of testing and doesn’t require fasting or a specific time of day.

A blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes.

RangeResult
200 mg/dL or greaterDiabetes
  1. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test:
  1. Initial Test: Your blood sugar is tested.
  2. Sugary Drink: You’re given a sugary drink.
  3. Follow-up Test: After 2 hours, your blood sugar levels are tested again.
Test resultIndicated condition
139 mg/dL or lowerNormal
140 to 199 mg/dLPrediabetes
200 mg/dL or greaterDiabetes
  1. Glucose Tolerance Test: 
  1. Purpose: Measures how your body responds to sugar or glucose.
  2. Common Use: Screening for Type 2 diabetes.
  3. Modified Use: Testing for gestational diabetes in pregnant women.
  4. Procedure:
    1. Fasting: Requires fasting before the test.
    2. Initial Blood Sample: A blood sample is taken before breakfast to measure fasting blood glucose levels.
    3. Glucose Solution: You’ll be given eight ounces of a glucose solution to drink.
    4. Second Blood Test: Another blood test is done after two hours to measure blood glucose levels.

Tests for Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis:

  1. Timing: Usually tested between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
  2. Risk Factors: If at higher risk, the test may be done earlier.
  3. Blood Tests: Diagnosis is based on blood sugar levels. High levels may indicate gestational diabetes or other types (type 1 or type 2).
  1. Initial Glucose Challenge Test

The initial glucose challenge screening involves drinking a glucose solution. Blood is drawn after an hour, and a reading under 140 mg/dL is normal. Higher readings may signal the need for additional testing.

  1. Glucose Tolerance Test

This  test measures blood sugar before and after drinking a glucose solution. It involves fasting overnight, testing fasting blood sugar, and then checking at 1, 2, and possibly 3 hours after drinking the solution. Results vary based on the test protocol. Consult your doctor for interpretation.

2-Hour Glucose Tolerance Test: This test measures blood sugar levels 2 hours after drinking a glucose solution. An out-of-range result suggests gestational diabetes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I test for type 1 diabetes at home?

You can monitor your blood sugar levels at home using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) or a blood sugar meter, which requires a small drop of blood.

Who should use diabetes home tests?

Your doctor will guide you on whether you need to monitor your blood sugar at home, determining the frequency and timing of tests. They will also provide you with blood sugar targets to aim for.

What is normal HbA1c by age?

For adults aged 19-44, a normal HbA1c is up to 6.5%, while for adults aged 45-64, the normal range is around 7.0%.

What is the difference between OGTT and OGCT?

The oral glucose challenge test (OGCT) is a shorter version of the OGTT, used to screen pregnant women for gestational diabetes. It involves consuming 50g of glucose, and a blood sugar reading is taken after one hour.

Conclusion

Now that you know about the types of diabetes, treatments, and some useful resources for implementation, you can start right away. If you need further assistance, feel free to reach out to us.

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