Diabetes is a chronic or long-lasting health condition that in its simplest definition means that your body has a problem turning your food into energy.
When we eat, our body breaks most of the food we eat into glucose or sugar which is released into the bloodstream for distribution into the different parts of our body. Our pancreas releases insulin in order to signal the body to use glucose as energy.
With diabetes, the pancreas is not able to make use of insulin properly, or doesn’t make enough insulin altogether. In time, the uncontrolled level of sugar in your blood can damage other parts of your body including your eyes, kidneys, and nerves among others.
There are many different types of diabetes, and each has a different cause, symptom, and treatment. And like most diseases, detecting diabetes through a laboratory test at the earliest possible time can make a huge difference. It is best to be able to detect abnormal blood sugar levels at a manageable stage called prediabetes so it can still be reversed.
The following are some of the tests used in order to detect diabetes:
1. Fasting blood sugar
Fasting blood sugar test aims to measure the level of your blood sugar after not eating, usually overnight or 8 hours. Normal fasting blood sugar is 99 mg/DL or lower. Beyond that, you may have prediabetes or diabetes if over 126 mg/dL of fasting blood sugar.
2. Glucose Tolerance Test
Glucose tolerance test is another laboratory test for diabetes that aims to measure your blood sugar before and after an intake of a liquid that contains glucose. This is usually combined with a fasting blood sugar test to compare the results of a baseline where you really have had no glucose intake for a considerable amount of time. Your blood sugar will be tested an hour after drinking the glucose-infused liquid, and again after 2 hours and probably another one after 3 hours. High sugar results after a significant amount of time means that you are unable to turn glucose into energy within the time that normal people would.
3. A1C test
The Hemoglobin A1C test, HbA1C test or simply the A1C test, aims to measure your average blood sugar level for a two- or three-month period. The test will be done on a small blood sample from your finger or arm.
A A1C level of below 5.7% means normal, a result of 5.7% to 6.4% means pre-diabetes, and 6.5% and above indicates diabetes. Doctors may need to relate your A1C results with your age, race, and underlying health conditions such as anemia.
4. Random Blood Sugar Test
Your blood sugar level can also be checked without the need to wait for you to fast, especially when you have symptoms of diabetes already. A blood sugar level of 200 mg/DL, regardless of when you last had a meal, may indicate diabetes.
As mentioned above, there are different types of diabetes, and the four tests above are typically for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Meanwhile, gestational diabetes or the type of diabetes that occurs in pregnant women, may initially make use of a glucose challenge test, which is essentially a glucose tolerance test without the need to fast. Fasting may be required for another test when the results of the initial challenge test suggest that you have pre-diabetes or diabetes.
Diabetes testing is essential to design the proper intervention needed for you. It is ideal to be able to detect your condition before it gets serious. Work with a trusted doctor that can help monitor your health over time so you may be able to properly detect health conditions such as diabetes.