Being diagnosed with Type
2 diabetes can come as a real shock. It can be scary to hear that you have a
lifelong health problem. However, a diagnosis can actually help you improve
your health. Type 2 diabetes is a manageable condition. Once you’re diagnosed, you
can learn what to do to stay healthy. It just requires some changes and a
commitment to living a healthier lifestyle.
If you think you might have diabetes,
talk to your doctor. Uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes can cause severe
- heart disease
- kidney disease
- lower limb
According to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death
in the United States. People with diabetes are twice as likely to die as people
of the same age who don’t have diabetes.
Many of the severe side effects of
diabetes can be avoided with treatment. That’s why it’s so important to be diagnosed as soon as
Some people are diagnosed with Type 2
diabetes because they have symptoms. Early diabetes symptoms include:
- increased or
- increased thirst
- cuts or sores that
- blurry vision
Most often, people are diagnosed through
routine screening tests. In general, routine screening for diabetes starts at
age 45. You may need to be screened sooner if you:
- are overweight
- live a sedentary
- 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
- have a low good
cholesterol level (HDL) or a high triglyceride level
A number of tests can be used to detect Type
Hemoglobin A1C Test
The glycated hemoglobin
(A1C) test is a long-term measure of blood sugar control. It allows your doctor
to figure out what your average blood sugar level has been for the past few
This test measures
the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the
oxygen-carrying protein in your red blood cells. The higher your hemoglobin A1C
is, the higher your recent blood sugar levels have been.
An A1C level of 6.5
percent or higher on two different tests indicates that you have diabetes. A
result between 5.7 and 6.4 percent indicates prediabetes. Normal levels are
below 5.7 percent.
testing can also be used to monitor your blood sugar control after you’ve been diagnosed.
Your A1C levels should be checked several times a year.
Fasting Glucose Test
Your doctor may
also opt for a fasting blood sugar test. In this case, 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.
Blood Glucose Test
There are certain
circumstances in which a hemoglobin A1C test is not valid. For example, it can’t be used by
pregnant women, or by people who have a hemoglobin variant. For these people,
random blood sugar testing may be used instead.
A random blood
sugar test can be done at any time. It looks at blood sugar without considering
your last meal.
Blood sugar values
are expressed in milligrams per decileter (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. This is particularly
true 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 that you fast overnight. You will take a fasting
blood sugar test. Then you will drink a sugary liquid. After you’re done, 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 after two hours
you get a reading greater than 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) indicates you have
diabetes. A reading between these levels indicates prediabetes.
tests are also used to diagnose gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
You should always
feel free to get a second opinion if you have any concerns or doubts about your
diagnosis. Your health is exactly that — your health. Don’t feel intimidated.
You have every right to a second opinion.
A diagnosis of diabetes is only the first step. Once you
know you have diabetes, you have to take your health in hands. It’s important to
follow through on all your monitoring and medical appointments. Getting your
blood tested and tracking your symptoms are important steps to ensure long-term
You will have an array of doctors checking in on your health.
But remember, you are ultimately responsible for your own well being. With
diabetes, it’s possible to live
a long, fulfilling life. It just requires a commitment to controlling your
blood sugar and staying well.