Your doctor will perform one of the standard measurements for the diagnosis of diabetes approved by the accepted authoritative body in whichever part of the world you live. In the United States, this is generally set by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and is accepted by most practitioners, insurers, and health providers as valid. The most current ADA criteria for the diagnosis of diabetes are shown in Table 1 (see Question 9). Your doctor may or may not ask you to fast prior to measuring the blood glucose or he or she may perform a standard 2-hour test known as the oral glucose tolerance test. Unless they are clearly and indisputably abnormal, or accompanied by typical symptoms of diabetes (discussed in Question 4), the results should be confirmed on a different day, since the diagnosis of diabetes carries many implications and necessitates lifelong monitoring and treatment. Very soon, the test that measures the average blood glucose over the past 3 months (the Hemoglobin Alc or HbAlc test) is also likely to become a standard test for detection and diagnosis of diabetes.
Different diagnostic procedures are used for pregnant women, most of whom should be screened for the presence of diabetes of pregnancy ("gestational diabetes") during the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy or earlier if they are at high risk or had diabetes in a previous pregnancy. This involves an initial 1-hour screening test for which fasting is not required. If the screening test is positive, it is followed by a more detailed 3-hour test for which prior fasting is necessary.
Although many people with diabetes confidently state that they can reliably detect both their high and low blood sugars without actual measurement, studies have shown that these beliefs are not usually accurate.
An abnormally low level of glucose in the blood; symptoms include shakiness, sweatiness, hunger, abdominal discomfort, palpitations, and confusion.
An abnormally high level of glucose in the blood; secondary symptoms include frequent urination and thirst.
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Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body uses food. Normally, your body converts sugars, starches and other foods into a form of sugar called glucose. Your body uses glucose for fuel. The cells receive the glucose through the bloodstream. They then use insulin a hormone made by the pancreas to absorb the glucose, convert it into energy, and either use it or store it for later use. Learn more...