Diagnosing Type 2 Diabetes

By Medically reviewed by Hello Doktor Medical Panel

As devastating as the idea of having diabetes may be, it is actually fortunate to be diagnosed early as it will greatly help manage your condition. Once you are diagnosed, you can learn to stay healthy.
Many of the severe side effects of diabetes can be avoided with proper treatment, which is why it is so important to be diagnosed as soon as possible.

Who may need screening for Type 2 diabetes?

Early diabetes symptoms include:
  • Increased or frequent urination; 
  • Increased thirst; Fatigue;
  • Cuts or sores that won’t heal;
  • Blurry vision.
Diabetes patients are often diagnosed through routine screening tests, which normally starts at age 45. You may need to be tested sooner if you:
  • Are overweight;
  • Live a sedentary lifestyle;
  • Have a family history of Type 2 diabetes;
  • Have a history of gestational diabetes or have given birth to a baby over 9 pounds;
  • Are of certain ethnicity (African American, Native American, Latino, Asian, and Pacific Islander);
  • Have a low good cholesterol level (HDL) or a high triglyceride level.

How do doctors diagnose type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes can be detected through:

Hemoglobin A1C test

The glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test allows your doctor to measure your average blood sugar level during the past few months.
This test calculates the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying protein in your red blood cells). The higher your hemoglobin A1C is, the higher your recent blood sugar levels have been.
Your A1C level should be below 5.7%. A 6.5% measure or higher indicates diabetes and a level between 5.7 and 6.4% points to prediabetes.

Fasting glucose test

In fasting glucose test, a sample of your blood will be taken after you have fasted overnight.
A normal fasting blood sugar level is less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L). A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) indicates prediabetes. If your test shows a level of 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two different tests, you have Type 2 diabetes.

Random (non-fasting) blood glucose test

In some circumstances, a hemoglobin A1C test is not valid, such as in the case of pregnant women, or people who have a hemoglobin variant. For these people, random blood sugar testing may be an alternative.
A random blood sugar test can be done at any time as it measures your blood sugar without considering your last meal.
Blood sugar values are expressed in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or millimoles per liter (mmol/L). No matter when you last ate, a random blood sugar test of 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) or above suggests that you have diabetes, especially if you already have symptoms of diabetes.
A blood sugar level between 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L) and 199 mg/dL (11.0 mmol/L) indicates prediabetes. A normal level is one that is less than 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L).

Oral glucose tolerance test

The oral glucose tolerance test also requires overnight fasting. You will take a fasting blood sugar test, following by a sugary drink. Your blood sugar levels will be tested periodically for several hours. After two hours, a normal blood sugar level is less than 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L). If you get a reading greater than 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L), then you have diabetes. A reading between these levels indicates prediabetes.
Glucose tolerance tests are also used to diagnose gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
A diagnosis should be considered a good first step to take your health in hands. It is advisable to follow through on all your monitoring and medical appointments. Getting your blood tested and tracking your symptoms are important steps to ensure a long, fulfilling life.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Review Date: February 12, 2017 | Last Modified: December 6, 2019

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