Screening For Diabetes: A Quick Guide to What You Should Know
There are more than 37 million Americans currently living with diabetes and this number is on the rise with more individuals being diagnosed every year, including a greater number of younger patients.
This is particularly true with Type 2 diabetes, the form of the disease that is related to lifestyle factors, such as being overweight, not getting enough physical activity, and eating a poor diet that is often heavy in sugars and fats.
All forms of diabetes are diagnosed by an elevation in blood sugar and early detection is critical. The sooner a person is diagnosed with diabetes the sooner a treatment program can be developed to control blood sugar and reduce the risk of diabetes-related health complications, including cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, neuropathy (nerve damage and others)
So, how do you know if you have diabetes? How do you know if you’re at high risk for developing the disease? In this post, we’ll answer both of these questions.
Am I At Risk for Diabetes?
There are two forms of diabetes. Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder that usually begins showing symptoms in childhood or early teens, such as increased urination, unusually strong thirst, feeling exhausted and unexplained weight loss. These symptoms tend to come on suddenly leading to a screening for Type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is very different. It’s directly related to factors, including obesity, inactivity, a poor diet, and ethnicity. Type 2 diabetes usually develops gradually and, therefore, the symptoms often don’t present themselves until it’s too late to prevent the onset of the disease. This is why the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has created a list of screening guidelines. The ADA recommends that the following people get screened for Type 2 diabetes:
– Anyone with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 25 (23 for Asian Americans) regardless of age who has additional risk factors for diabetes, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inactive lifestyle, a history of polycystic ovary syndrome or heart disease, and family members who’ve been diagnosed with diabetes.
– Everyone 35 years and older is advised to get a screening. If they are all clear, they should be retested in 3 years.
– Women who have had gestational diabetes (diabetes that happens during pregnancy and then resolves once a woman gives birth).
– Anyone who has been diagnosed with prediabetes should be tested for Type 2 diabetes every year.
– Anyone who has been diagnosed with HIV should be tested.
How Do I Get Tested for Diabetes?
Testing for diabetes can be done in a number of ways. The good news is they are all simple blood tests that can be done quickly and easily at your doctor’s office. Here are ways your physician might test for diabetes.
The A1C is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar over a 2 to 3-month period. According to the ADA, an A1C score below 5.7% is normal. If you test between 5.7% and 6.4 %, this indicates you have prediabetes. Prediabetes means you’re on track to develop diabetes but may be able to prevent or delay its onset with lifestyle and dietary changes. If you score 6.5% or higher, you’ll receive a diabetes diagnosis. One big advantage to testing A1C is that you don’t have to fast for any length of time or ingest anything before taking the test.
Random Blood Sugar Test
A blood sample is taken at a random time without any consideration of when you last ate. This is usually given to people who are already experiencing symptoms of diabetes. If blood glucose is greater than or equal to 200 mg/dL, it indicates diabetes.
Fasting Blood Glucose Test (FPG)
This blood test is taken after a night of fasting. A fasting blood sugar level of less than 100 mg/dL is considered normal. A reading between 100 - 125 mg/dL is an indicator of prediabetes. Any test of 126 mg/dL or higher points to diabetes.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)
The Oral Glucose Tolerance Test not only measures blood glucose levels, but it also tells doctors how your body processes sugar. First, you fast overnight. The next day, your fasting blood glucose is measured via a simple blood test. Afterwards, you drink a sugary liquid, and your blood sugar is tested regularly over the next two hours.
A blood sugar level of less than 140 mg/dL is normal. A reading that’s between
140 - 199 mg/dL means you are prediabetic. Anything more than 200 mg/dL means you have diabetes.
Which Test Is Best?
They’re all effective ways of screening for diabetes. In fact, your doctor may administer more than one of these tests or perform a second test to back up the accuracy of the first reading. Which test your doctor chooses also depends on whether or not you are experiencing any symptoms of diabetes, whether or not you are able or willing to fast, and the urgency of your need for a test. Rest assured, any of these tests can determine whether or not you have diabetes.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of diabetes:
- Feeling thirsty
- Frequent urination
- Perpetual exhaustion
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurry vision
See your doctor right away and get screened for diabetes. The sooner you are diagnosed, the better your prognosis will be going forward. Additionally, you might still catch things in the prediabetic stage, which means you might be able to prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
We hope you found this post informative and insightful. At Diabetic Warehouse, we’re committed to helping those with diabetes manage blood sugar with a complete selection of testing and treatment supplies at prices up to 65% less than those found at most pharmacies and suppliers.
Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including glucose meters and test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit www.diabeticwarehouse.org.