If you are experiencing the classic signs of diabetes—increased urination and thirst, hunger and weight loss —- see your physician immediately! A medical evaluation of your symptoms and diabetes risk is vital.
Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) Test
Your physician may ask you to take a Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) test to determine whether you have high blood sugar. Before the test you’ll be asked to avoid strenuous exercise and not drink or eat for at least 12 hours before the test. Some medications may interfere with the results so share this information with your physician ahead of time to devise a plan.
The FPG is a reliable test that requires one blood sample. The results can be reported to the physician within a short time for a final determination. A high blood sugar diagnosis indicates that the FPG is above 126 mg/dl. In the vast majority of cases this result must be confirmed by a repeat diabetes test on another day.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)
Another route that may be selected by your physician is the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). This test is much more involved but just as reliable as the FPG. The preparation involves careful monitoring of carbohydrates days before the test and 12 hours of fasting just prior to the test.
The test itself may last from three to six hours, beginning with samples of blood and urine taken early in the morning after the fast. Next, you’ll be given liquid glucose to drink. More blood and urine samples will be taken at regular intervals over the course of the test. A high blood sugar diagnosis indicates that the plasma glucose on the OGTT is equal to or above 200 mg/dl. Except under specific circumstances, a high blood sugar result must be confirmed by follow-up diabetes testing on another day.
If your results are normal and you are over the age of 45, you’ll be asked to repeat this test in three years, just to be on the safe side. If your results are normal and you fall into a high-risk group, additional diabetes testing will be performed sooner.
Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?
Other tests will be required to determine whether you’re insulin deficient and will need insulin therapy (Type 1) or insulin resistant and need adjustments in diet and lifestyle (Type 2).
One such test evaluates the blood for the presence of a chemical called c-peptide, which is produced in amounts equal to insulin. Therefore if insulin production is low or non-existent, the amount of c-peptide in the blood will mirror this. A negative or very low result suggests Type 1 diabetes. Those with Type 2 diabetes will have normal or slightly reduced levels of c-peptide in their blood.
With a self-monitoring blood glucose test you prick your finger with a lancet, transfer the blood to the monitoring strip and then insert the strip into the meter.
Monitoring Blood Sugar
If you’re diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, you’ll be trained in SMBG or Self-Monitoring Blood Glucose so that your physician can decide how much insulin to prescribe. This will involve obtaining a blood sugar meter, monitoring strips and lancets. You’ll prick your finger with a lancet, transfer the blood to the monitoring strip and then insert the strip into the meter. The meter will evaluate the glucose level in your blood.
Will My Life Change?
Your life will change, but you’ll not be alone. You’ll become part of a team monitoring and maintaining your good health. You’ll become part of a community educating the public about this disease and supporting the research to find a cure.