In Part 1 of this series, House Call Doctor explains the risks associated with diabetes and the tests your doctor will likely do to screen for this deadly disease.
Diagnosing Diabetes and Prediabetes
Most patients with diabetes have no symptoms at all! Therefore, if you are overweight, obese, or have a family history of diabetes, make sure to ask your doctor to screen you for diabetes. There are 4 ways in which patients can get screened:
- Random Blood Glucose: If you tell your doctor that you are experiencing symptoms of diabetes (such as thirst, blurry vision, or frequency of urination), they may order a “random blood glucose” level test. If that number comes in at 200 or more at any time of the day, this technically meets criteria for diagnosis of diabetes. The trouble is, most patients with diabetes have no symptoms at all. That is why we screen.
- Fasting Blood Glucose: The second way doctors can diagnose diabetes is to order a fasting blood sugar test (performed after at least 8 hours of not eating or drinking anything). Normal blood glucose is less than 100, prediabetes is between 100 and 125, and diabetes is 126 or higher. The problem with this test is that even diabetics can have a normal blood sugar levels at some moments, so doctors can miss the diagnosis for some patients depending on what day they catch the patient.
- Glucose Tolerance Test: You may have already experienced a “glucose tolerance test.” That's when you have to drink that nasty-tasting, super-sweet liquid and then hang out for two hours to get your blood drawn – no fun at all. Blood glucose of 200 or more at the two hour mark is a diagnosis of diabetes, while a number between 140 and 199 reflects prediabetes. It’s still done with pregnant women as a one hour test to check for gestational diabetes, however for everyone else, it’s really an outdated method of screening that doctors don’t typically use any longer, thankfully.
- Hemoglobin A1C: Nowadays, this is really the most common and efficient way to screen someone for diabetes. It’s a simple blood test that reflects your blood glucose levels for the previous 3 months (so you don’t even need to be fasting for it). Normal is less than 5.7, prediabetes is between 5.7 and 6.4, and diabetes is 6.5 or higher. Simple, fast.
Do you suffer from diabetes or prediabetes? Share your experiences with us in Comments below or on the House Call Doctor’s Facebook and Twitter pages! If you have any suggestions for future topics you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope you have a healthy week!