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How is diabetes diagnosed?

There are four main types of diabetes: prediabetes, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes.

Prediabetes is a pre-cursor to diabetes. It means you might not have any symptoms at all yet, but your blood sugar is not being properly controlled. It can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is generally a condition you are diagnosed with earlier in life. It means your pancreas does not produce insulin. You will need regular insulin in order to manage your diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is generally diagnosed later in life – anywhere from your late teens to mid-50s. It means your pancreas might still produce some insulin, but not enough to regulate blood sugar. It might also mean that your body has become insulin resistant and is not able to use the insulin that your pancreas does create. You will need to focus on monitoring your blood sugar, eating a healthy diet, and perhaps taking medication or using insulin.

Gestational diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy. It means you will likely have gestational diabetes during future pregnancies as well and you will have to be closely monitored during your pregnancy. In some cases, once you give birth, your diabetes will go away. It means you are at higher risk of developing diabetes outside of pregnancy as well.

Testing for diabetes

In order to be diagnosed with any type of diabetes, your healthcare provider will want to run some tests, including bloodwork.

First you will have an A1C test, also called a glycated hemoglobin test. This blood test does not require fasting. It is used to show your average blood sugar level from the past few months. The test measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to your hemoglobin – red-blood – cells.

If you have an A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher could mean you have diabetes. In most cases, your healthcare provider will want you to have the test done more than once.

If you have an A1C level between 5.7 and 6.4 percent, you could have prediabetes. Again, your healthcare provider will want you to take the test more than once.

In some cases, more testing is needed to determine the level of your diabetes or prediabetes. Other tests that your doctor could order are:

  • Random blood sugar test: A small blood sample will be taken at a random time to show your blood sugar level.
  • Fasting blood sugar test: This test requires you to fast or not eat overnight prior to having blood tested. A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL could be prediabetes and a level of 126 mg/dL could mean diabetes.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test: For this test, you fast overnight and your blood sugar is measured. Then, you drink a sugary liquid and have blood sugar testing done over the course of two hours following the drink. This is similar to the testing done for those who are at risk for gestational diabetes.

If you have been recently diagnosed with diabetes, Beebe Diabetes Management can help: 302-645-3121. Ask your doctor to refer you to the program, which includes educational sessions, group support, and one-on-one guidance.

Beebe Diabetes Management offers a Diabetes Support Group the second Wednesday of alternating months. Due to COVID-19, the meetings will be held virtually using the BlueJeans application. Participants may join using a computer, electronic tablet, or telephone. If you are interested in joining the support group, call 302-645-3121 or e-mail Ken Carson at [email protected] to request an e-mail invitation. The support group is open to anyone interested who is diagnosed with diabetes or who supports someone living with diabetes.

If you are already diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes and are seeking additional support, Beebe Endocrinology is accepting new patients. Learn more here or call to make an appointment: 302-648-7999.