If you experience symptoms of severe increased thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, increased hunger, tingling of your hands or feet — your doctor may run a test for diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 29 million children and adults in the U.S., or over 9% of the population, have diabetes today. Yet, millions of Americans are unaware that they have diabetes, because there may be no warning signs. To confirm the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, your doctor will order a fasting plasma glucose test or a casual plasma glucose.
However, if you have normal fasting blood sugar, but you have risk factors for diabetes or symptoms of diabetes, your doctor may decide to do a glucose tolerance test (see below) to be sure that you do not have diabetes.
Some people have a normal fasting blood sugar reading, but their blood sugar rapidly rises as they eat. These people may have impaired glucose tolerance. If their blood sugar levels are high enough, they may be diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetes and the Fasting Plasma Glucose Test
- The fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) is the preferred method for diagnosing diabetes, because it is easy to do, convenient, and less expensive than other tests, according to the American Diabetes Association.
The Casual Plasma Glucose Test for Diabetes
- The casual plasma glucose test is another method of diagnosing diabetes. During the test, blood sugar is tested without regard to the time since the person’s last meal. You are not required to abstain from eating prior to the test.
The Oral Glucose Tolerance Test for Diabetes
- The oral glucose tolerance test is yet another method used to detect diabetes, but it is usually only done during pregnancy to diagnose gestational diabetes or for someone who is suspected of having type 2 diabetes yet has a normal fasting glucose level. It can also be performed to diagnose prediabetes.
Diabetes and the Hemoglobin A1c Test
- The hemoglobin A1c test (also called the glycated hemoglobin test or HbA1c), is an important diabetes blood test used to determine how well your diabetes is being controlled. This diabetes test provides an average of your blood sugar control over a six- to 12-week period and is used in conjunction with home blood sugar monitoring to make adjustments in your diabetes medicines. The HbA1c level can also be used to diagnose diabetes if a value of equal to or greater than 6.5% is found.
Understanding Your Diabetes Diagnosis
- Diabetes can cause major health problems if you do not keep your blood sugar in check. However, you can stay healthy and feel good despite your diagnosis if you follow your doctor’s recommended treatment plan and maintain a healthy lifestyle. By choosing foods wisely, exercising regularly, maintaining a normal weight, reducing your stress level, and making other modest lifestyle changes, living with diabetes will be easier.