Diagnosing Diabetes

Diagnosing Diabetes

Here are federal guides for when to
get checked for diabetes:

  • People older than 45 should be
    tested for prediabetes or diabetes. If the first blood sugar (glucose) test is
    normal, they should get tested again every 3 years.

  • People younger than 45 should
    think about getting tested for prediabetes or diabetes if they are overweight or
    obese and have other risk factors for diabetes. This means having a body mass index
    (BMI) of 25 or more and 1 or more of the following risk factors. Asian Americans
    should get tested if they have a BMI of 23 or more.

    • Have a mother, father,
      brother, or sister with diabetes

    • Are part of a high-risk
      ethnic group. This means African American, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander,
      Native Alaskan, or Native American.

    • Had heart and blood vessel
      disease in the past

    • Have blood pressure at
      140/90 mm/Hg or higher. Or are taking medicine for high blood pressure.

    • Have blood fat levels that
      are not normal. For example, high-density lipoproteins (HDL) of less than 35
      mg/dL. Or triglycerides greater than 250 mg/dL.

    • Are not active

    • Had impaired glucose
      tolerance during a past test for diabetes

    • Are a woman with
      polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

    • Have been diagnosed with

    • Have symptoms of diabetes.
      These include increased urination, increased thirst, increased hunger, and
      unexplained weight loss.

A diagnosis of diabetes

Any of the following test results confirm a diabetes diagnosis:

  • A1C level of 6.5% or

  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG)
    level of 126 mg/dL or higher. Fasting means not eating or drinking except water
    for at least 8 hours.

  • Casual plasma glucose level
    of 200 mg/dL or higher, with the symptoms of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or
    hyperglycemic crisis. This level can be measured at any time of day.

  • Oral glucose tolerance test
    (OGTT) level of 200 mg/dL or higher. For this test, you fast for at least 8 hours.
    Then you drink a sweet liquid that has a certain amount of glucose.

If you don’t have symptoms of hyperglycemia, a diagnosis requires 2
abnormal tests results from the same sample, or from 2 separate test samples. For
example, an FPG of less than 126 and an A1C of less than 6.5% would be needed to
diagnose diabetes.

Some conditions can affect the accuracy of the A1C test. These

  • Sickle cell disease
  • Pregnancy (second and third trimesters and the postpartum
  • Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency
  • HIV
  • Hemodialysis
  • Recent blood loss or blood transfusion
  • Erythropoietin therapy

A diagnosis of gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is diabetes
that starts during pregnancy. All women who are at risk for type 2 diabetes should be
tested for diabetes at their first prenatal visit. This is done using the standard tests
above. More tests to check for gestational diabetes will be done later in pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes may be diagnosed with one of the methods below.

One-step method

This is a 75-gram glucose
tolerance test. For this test, you drink a sweet glucose drink. Blood sugar levels
are checked after you have fasted for at least 8 hours. They are also checked 1 hour
after the drink and 2 hours after the drink. This test is done at 24 to 28 weeks’
gestation in women who have not been diagnosed with diabetes before. Gestational
diabetes is diagnosed when you have any one of the following blood sugar levels: 

  • Fasting: 92 mg/dL or

  • 1 hour: 180 mg/dL or

  • 2 hour: 153 mg/dL or

Two-step method

This test is also done at 24 to
28 weeks’ gestation in women who have not been diagnosed with diabetes.

Step 1. A
50-gram glucose tolerance test with a blood sugar level check at 1 hour. If the blood
sugar at 1 hour is 130 to 140 mg/dL or higher, then go to step 2.  

 A100-gram glucose tolerance test is done while you are fasting. Gestational
diabetes is diagnosed when you have at least 2 of the following blood sugar

  • Fasting: 105 mg/dL or

  • 1 hour: 190 mg/dL or

  • 2 hour: 165 mg/dL or

  • 3 hour: 145 mg/dL or

Talk with your healthcare
provider about being screened for gestational diabetes. Women who have been diagnosed
with gestational diabetes should be tested for diabetes at least every 3 years.