Diagnosing Type 2 Diabetes

The diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can involve several tests that are basically performed to measure the level of blood sugar. An increase in the level of blood sugar can be caused either by an insufficient production of insulin by the beta cells of the pancreas, or due to an inability of the body cells to respond to insulin, which is termed as insulin resistance.

Diabetes caused by the insufficient production of insulin is known as type 1 diabetes. On the other hand, if it is caused by insulin resistance, it is known as type 2 diabetes. An increase in the level of blood sugar can manifest in several symptoms, like increased thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger, fatigue, frequent infections, and unexplained weight loss. However, diabetes cannot be diagnosed only with the help of these symptoms.

Diagnostic Tests for Type 2 Diabetes

The body cells need insulin to absorb and utilize sugar or glucose from the bloodstream, and hence, a deficiency of insulin, as well as a failure of the body cells to utilize insulin can increase the level blood sugar. Therefore, type 2 diabetes is diagnosed by conducting certain blood tests that can measure the level of glucose in the bloodstream. There are mainly four types of blood tests, which are conducted for the diagnosis of this condition. These tests are known as random blood sugar test, fasting blood sugar test, oral glucose tolerance test, and glycated hemoglobin test.

Random Blood Sugar Test
This test measures the level of blood sugar irrespective of when the person being tested ate for the last time. In other words, a blood sample is collected randomly, and then the level of blood sugar is measured. If the level of blood sugar is 200 mg/dL (11 mmol/L) or higher, it means that the individual is diabetic.

Fasting Blood Sugar Test
In this test, a blood sample is taken after an overnight fast, or after a fasting period of at least 8 hours. The normal fasting blood sugar level should be 70 to 99 mg/dL. If the level of blood sugar is between 100 to 125 mg/dL, it can indicate prediabetes or a condition of impaired fasting glucose. On the other hand, a blood sugar level higher than 125 mg/dL suggests diabetes.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
The oral glucose test can be termed as one of the most effective and sensitive tests for diagnosing this condition. This test involves the collection of a sample of blood after a fasting period of at least 8 hours, or after an overnight fast. The individual is then given a drink containing 75 gm glucose. After 2 hours, another blood sample is taken and the level of blood sugar is measured.

Normally, the blood sugar level should be less than 140 mg/dL or 7.8 mmol/L (2 hours after drinking the glucose solution). If the blood sugar level is between 140 to 199 mg/dL, then it can suggest prediabetes or a condition of impaired glucose tolerance. But if the blood sugar level is 200mg/dL or higher, then the individual is diabetic. However, for a confirmation, the test is repeated again on another day.

Glycated Hemoglobin (A1C) Test
Glycated hemoglobin test is another blood test which measures the average blood sugar level for the last two to three months. This can be done by measuring the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, as the excess blood glucose binds with hemoglobin. If the value of A1C test is less than 6% or in between 4.9 to 5.9 %, it is considered normal, while a value of 6 to 6.5% is indicative of prediabetes. This test is usually employed for diagnosing prediabetes.

If left untreated, diabetes can cause several complications, some of which can be quite serious. So, if you think that you have diabetes, or experience the symptoms associated with this condition, then consider to visit your health care provider for an accurate diagnosis.

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