The last time the National Institutes of Health took a measurement of the diabetes epidemic in the United States, they found that of the 20.8 million Americans affected by diabetes, approximately 30% (or 6.2 million) don’t know that they have the disease.
This is because people with type 2 diabetes often have no symptoms. However, a simple blood test is all you need to find out if you are one of the millions with untreated diabetes.
Both the American Diabetes Association and Joslin Diabetes Center recommend that you be tested if you meet any of these criteria:
- You have a parent or sibling with diabetes
- You are overweight (BMI higher than 25)
- You are a member of a high-risk ethnic population (African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Asian American or Pacific Islander)
- You had gestational diabetes or a baby weighing over 9 pounds
- You have high blood pressure
- You have polycystic ovarian syndrome
- On previous testing, you had impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting tolerance
The most common tests for diabetes are:
- Fasting Plasma Glucose: This blood test is taken in the morning, on an empty stomach. A level of 126 mg/dl or above, on more than one occasion, indicates diabetes.
- Casual or Random Glucose: This blood test can be taken anytime during the day, without fasting. A glucose level of 200 mg/dl and above may suggest diabetes.
The diabetologists here in the Joslin Clinic say that if any of these test results occurs, testing should be repeated on a different day to confirm the diagnosis. If a casual plasma glucose equal to 200 mg/dl or above is detected in the initial test, the confirming test used should either be a fasting plasma glucose or an oral glucose tolerance test.
A diagnosis of diabetes is shock, and a life-changing event. But thanks to developments in modern diabetes treatments, people who are diagnosed with diabetes can learn to live well with diabetes. If you have been recently diagnosed, we recommend starting your life with diabetes by reading Getting Over the Shock of Your Diabetes Diagnosis.