Diabetes, whether type 1, type 2 is actually quite easy to diagnose. A diagnosis can generally be made based on one or more blood tests for glucose (blood from a vein, not a finger) and/or an A1C test (see definition below).
If you have risk factors for diabetes (type 2) (see below) or think you have diabetes get your numbers checked by a healthcare provider. According to the American Diabetes Association, if you’re over 45, regardless of any risk factors, you should get your A1c or glucose level tested annually. If you’re younger than 45, overweight and have other risk factors (see below), get your A1c or glucose tested annually. If you’re at high risk (see risk factors below), follow up with your healthcare provider. Get tested and know for sure.
Hemoglobin A1C is a measure of blood glucose control over the past 2 to 3 months. Think of the A1C blood test as a video recording of all the ups and downs of your blood glucose during that time. Since 2010 the American Diabetes Association and other diabetes organizations around the globe consider the A1C test the preferred measure to diagnose diabetes because it provides a better picture of glucose ups and downs over time. A1C is also used to monitor how diabetes is being managed.
Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes Risk Factors:
- Above 45 years old
- Family history of type 2 diabetes (parent, brother or sister)
- Member of an ethnic group with increased risk: African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American or Pacific Islanders, American Indian or Alaska Native
- Diagnosed with gestational diabetes or given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
- Diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Live a sedentary lifestyle
- Overweight or obese (BMI > 25 or > 23 in Asian Americans)
- Smoke cigarettes
- Snore loudly, brief pauses in breathing during sleep, poor quality sleep and/or been told you have sleep apnea
Blood Glucose and A1C Numbers Used to Diagnose Diabetes and Prediabetes (see notes below)
| ||Healthy, Non-Diabetes||Prediabetes||Diabetes (type 1, 2)|
|Fasting glucose||<100||> 100 to < 125||> 126|
|Random glucose||<140||> 140 to <199||> 200|
|A1c (done in a lab, not a home test)*||<5.6%||>5.7 to <6.4%||>6.5%|
Notes: These numbers do not apply to pregnant women and for the diagnosis of gestational diabetes. If the results from one test are not convincingly indicative of the diagnosis, then a repeat test should be done on a different day.
*Hemoglobin A1C is a measure of blood glucose control over the past 2 to 3 months. Think of the A1C blood test as a video recording of all the ups and downs of blood glucose during that time. Since 2010 the American Diabetes Association and other diabetes organizations around the globe consider the A1C test the preferred measure to diagnose diabetes because it provides a better picture of glucose ups and downs over time. A1C is also used to monitor how diabetes is being managed.
Reference: American Diabetes Association, Standards of Medical Care for Diabetes – 2015.
Keep in mind there is no such thing as "borderline diabetes" or a "touch of sugar"- either you have diabetes or you don't. Get tested, know for sure. You may have prediabetes. Learn more about prediabetes.
People diagnosed with type 1 diabetes most often develop symptoms of diabetes prior being diagnosed and their blood glucose levels can get quite high prior to being diagnosed. The common diabetes symptoms are: thirst, frequent urinating, hunger, weight loss and tiredness.
For people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes it is quite common to not have any symptoms of diabetes at diagnosis. It’s important to note that a person diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has likely had progressively elevated blood glucose levels (in the range for prediabetes – see chart above) for many years prior to being diagnosed. Learn more in Insulin Resistance, Weight Gain and Type 2 Diabetes: Connect the Dots . If you need assistance with weight loss and knowing what and what not to eat with diabetes check out my book Diabetes Meal Planning Made Easy.
If you think you’re at risk for or have diabetes get tested as soon as possible.
If you have diabetes, take it seriously! Take action now!