As mentioned above, diabetes is a common disorder of the endocrine system, which affects the pancreas. It is reputed to affect over 20 million people in the United States alone. Also known as diabetes mellitus, this disorder is associated with the pancreas gland. This gland, located behind the stomach, is responsible for secreting the hormone known as insulin in the body. And this very hormone is in charge for moving the glucose (which is obtained from the food we eat) into the cells of the body for production of energy. But diabetes does not allow this process to continue as it is supposed to. The disorder impairs the pancreas gland from, either producing enough insulin or producing the same at all in the body. So when this happens, the level of glucose in the blood stream increases, and continues to rise if the problem remains untreated. The level may rise so much that it may lead to life-threatening situations for the affected person. This disorder that we are speaking of, exists in four different types; type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 and type 2 are incurable thus, are long-lasting conditions. However, the other two are potentially reversible.
Diabetes Tests and Diagnosis
The following would help you understand the various procedures that are taken up for diagnosing type 1 and type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and gestational diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes was once regarded as juvenile diabetes, and is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. When this particular form of the disorder strikes, the pancreas produces either insufficient amount of insulin or no insulin at all. The procedures that are taken up in diagnosing the condition may include:
- A common blood test for diabetes is known as the glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. With the help of this test, also known as HbA1c, the doctor can determine the amount or more appropriately, the percentage of blood sugar that is attached to the hemoglobin. When sugar level rises abnormally higher in the bloodstream, it combines with the hemoglobin thus, becoming ‘glycated’. So more the number of hemoglobin A1C, the higher would be the blood glucose level. And this test can reveal the information on about 120 days old glucose level in the body. For someone to be diagnosed with diabetes, this test must show a result of the blood sugar level to be 6.5 percent or higher, when conducted twice.
- In some people, the use of glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test may not yield desired results. So then, random blood sugar test is put to use. As the name suggests, a blood sample of the patient would be tested at any random time. A measure of 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher, is a sign of diabetes. This test does not require the subject to keep a fast of any kind. This test may be conducted throughout the day, for checking any variation in the blood glucose level. In healthy people, the variation is negligible, but if the same is of a wide range, then it may indicate diabetes.
- Another test that is conducted is known as Fasting Blood Sugar (FBS) test. Unlike the random test, this one requires the patient to fast for a period of at least 8 hours. After the fast, a blood sample is taken from the subject and tested in the laboratory. 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is considered normal, and a measure of 100 to 125 mg/dL may indicate prediabetes. And if on two separate occasions, the test shows a measure of 126 mg/dL or higher, then the patient is diagnosed with diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
Note that all the above steps used for testing diabetes (type 1), are also used for the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. This form of the disorder is more common than the type 1. Here, the body develops a resistance to the effect of insulin that is produced by the pancreas.
As the name suggests, this disorder can be attributed as a stage that precedes type 2 diabetes. Here, the affected person’s blood glucose level, although, is higher than normal, is not high enough for him/her to be regarded as a diabetic. However, according to experts, in a span of 10 years, this condition, without any medical aid, can easily progress to become type 2 diabetes. The tests for diagnosing this type of the condition include:
- The glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test, as described above is conducted to diagnose this condition. A measure that ranges between 5.7 and 6.4 percent indicates the onset of prediabetes.
- And if the A1C test does not fit in the program, then a blood sample test after an overnight fast (8 hours) is done on the patient. If he/she has a blood glucose level of 100 to 125 mg/dL, then the case may be confirmed as prediabetes.
- Besides the above tests, there is another one that it may be performed. This is known as oral glucose tolerance test. First, after a fast of at least 8 hours, the patient’s blood sample is put under study. Then, the subject must drink a sugary solution, two hours post which, a blood sample is measured again. And if the results show a sugar level that measures from 140 to 199 mg/dL, then the problem is considered as prediabetes.
This problem is associated with expecting mothers. During pregnancy, the blood glucose level rises alarmingly, making the mother a diabetic. However, a few days after the delivery, the blood sugar returns to normal. The tests for this type of diabetes includes:
- The first test involves giving the patient a sugary solution. After an hour, a blood test is performed to measure the blood sugar level. If it shows a measure of more than 130 to 140 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), then it only signifies that the mother is at a high risk of developing gestational diabetes.
- Another test is conducted wherein, the patient has to fast overnight before the test. After the test, the patient is given a highly concentrated glucose solution. And then the blood sugar level is tested thrice, with an interval of one hour. And if the readings are higher than normal in any two tests, then the diagnosis of the condition can be confirmed positive.
To conclude, you can also test for diabetes at home. For this, all you have to do is to get a diabetes test home kit. Following the instructions as provided by the manufacture can provide accurate readings for the test. However, if you suspect that you might be suffering from the condition, then it’s best to go for a medical diagnosis for proper care and treatment. Home kits are good for monitoring your blood sugar level, in case you already have the condition.