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How is Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed?

diabetes diagnosis

Photo by Antonika Chanel on Unsplash

What is Type 2 Diabetes Anyway?

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition where the body is unable to use insulin effectively to get glucose (blood sugar) out of the bloodstream and into the cells where it can be used for energy. Many people are able to manage their Type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes. Others may need medications to reduce blood sugar levels. These medications may include oral medications, insulin or other injectables.


There are 3 Main Ways to Diagnose Diabetes

Diabetes is diagnosed with a lab test. The main test used for this purpose is a fasting blood glucose. Other diagnostic tests may include an A1c or a glucose tolerance test.


Fasting Blood Glucose

Also known as fasting blood sugar test. This is a blood test that measures the amount of glucose in your bloodstream at the time of testing. As the name implies, this test is done when you have been fasting for several hours. A normal result would be between 70 and 99 mg/dl. If your level was 126 mg/dl or higher after fasting, this indicates diabetes. That leaves of range of 100-125 that is called prediabetes or "at risk for diabetes."

A1c

The A1c may also be known by the name Hemoglobin A1c or HgbA1c. This blood test shows your average blood glucose levels over a 2 to 3 month time span. It is expressed in a percentage. For people without diabetes the number is lower than 5.7%. The goal for people with diabetes is to keep the A1c less than 7%.

Glucose Tolerance Test

The glucose tolerance test is a blood test that is taken after you drink a sugary drink in the lab. This tests how well your body is processing the sugar in the drink over time. Two hours after consuming the drink your blood glucose level should be less than 140 mg/dl. If it is over 200 you have diabetes. A level between 140 and 199 mg/dl is considered impaired glucose tolerance or prediabetes.

One use for this test is to diagnose gestational diabetes. It is usually done between 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy.

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