December 28th, 2010
Everyone with diabetes or at risk for diabetes should be aware of the following tests. Some you can perform on your own and other are administered by your healthcare team.
The fasting plasma glucose test can be administered by you or your doctor when you haven't eaten for at least six hours. Your doctor often will do it when you visit. You can take this test with a glucose meter each morning. This test provides at-the-moment blood glucose levels. Readings between 100-125 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL) indicates prediabetes. Readings over 125 mg/DL indicate diabetes.
Like the FPG, this blood test provides at-the-moment blood glucose levels. Unlike the FPG, it is taken any time (randomly) rather than only when you have fasted.
A more complex test than the FPG, the oral glucose tolerance test requires that you fast at least 8 hours prior to having blood drawn for the first part of this two-part test. You then drink a liquid containing 75 grams of glucose, and two hours later have blood drawn again. This test is more sensitive than the FPG in determining prediabetes.
A simple blood test, a glycated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c or A1c, for short) reports on your averaged blood glucose levels over a 2-3 month period. This provides one of the most important measures of your overall diabetes management. This is a professionally adminstered test. An A1c of 5.4%-5.7% indicates prediabetes. A person diagnosed with diabetes should aim to keep their A1c below 7%.
Sometimes there is confusion about the different types of diabetes.
- Prediabetes is not technically diabetes, but this condition indicates that your body has difficulty utilizing insulin, often called insulin resistance. Often this an indicator that you will soon develop Type 2 diabetes.
- Type 1 diabetes (previously called juvenile diabetes) is an autoimmune disease that affects the pancreas' ability to produce insulin. It accounts for almost 10% of all diabetes cases. People with Type 1 must take insulin injections to properly process glucose in their body.
- Type 2 diabetes is a chronic ailment resulting from the body's inability to utilize insuline properly. Depending the severity your doctor will determine if you can control Type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes, oral medication or insulin. It is possible that all three could be advised.
- Gestational diabetes occurs in 2%-5% of pregnant women who previously did not have diabetes. It usually subsides post pregnancy but could be an indicator that Type 2 diabetes will later develop.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your diabetes or if you think you are at risk for diabetes please visit your medical professional.