The Gist of It:
- You can check for diabetes with a blood or urine test.
- Doctors will check the amount of blood glucose in your body.
- High-risk groups of people should be tested without waiting for symptoms.
Well for starters, if you are showing most of the symptoms here, then we recommend you visit your doctor ASAP.
What is your good ol’ doc gonna do? Amputate of course! No, we’re kidding but if you ignore diabetes long enough, you may end up with more than a missing limb. But to ease your doubts, here’s a list of tests that your doc might do, courtesy of our friends at the Persatuan Diabetes Malaysia.
1. High Blood Glucose Levels
Diabetes can be diagnosed by the levels of glucose in the blood.
If you have diabetes, your blood glucose levels will rise because of the food you eat. And being in Malaysia, that’s a pretty big temptation.
People with diabetes may have shortage of insulin or are insulin resistant. Some people have a combination of both. When the insulin is not doing its job properly, glucose can’t get into the cells to be used for energy. The unused glucose builds up in the blood and, if high enough, passes through the kidneys.
2. Urine Tests
High glucose levels in the urine are a tell-tale sign that something is wrong. But urine tests are not as accurate as blood tests, so it’s not a fool-proof way to diagnose diabetes. Oh and did we mention that the level of blood glucose needed to make glucose appear in the urine varies with each individual? Your glucose level could be high, but high levels of glucose may not appear in the urine. So in diagnosing diabetes, doctors prefer the medieval method of drawing blood.
3. Blood Tests
Like the urine test, blood tests are done to find the amount of glucose in your blood. There are two types of tests; screening tests and diagnostic tests.
Screening tests are performed on people who have no symptoms of diabetes, while diagnostic tests are done to confirm a diagnosis that is already suspected from the patient’s symptoms. Screening tests are fast and easy to do. All it needs is a little drop of blood from your fingertip and you’ll know your results in less time than it takes to cook instant noodles.
4. Fasting Plasma Glucose Test
This test is a reliable way to diagnose diabetes and it is easy to do. Factors like age, physical activity, and calorie intake have little effect on the results. You are required to fast overnight for about 8 to 12 hours. The doctor will then draw a single sample of your blood and you’ll know your results within a week.
5. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
For this test, you’re also required to fast overnight for at least 8 to 12 hours. At the doctor’s, the fasting plasma glucose test is done first. After that you will have to drink 75 grams of glucose and blood samples are taken five times over a period of two hours to measure your blood glucose.
In a person without diabetes, the glucose levels rise and then fall quickly. In someone with diabetes, glucose levels rise higher than normal and fail to come back down as fast.
For the test to give reliable results, you must be in good health and are not on any strong medications. Even a minor flu bug could throw your results off.
To sum up…
These tests are pretty simple to do so don’t worry! Having a screening test every three years is often enough as long as your results are good. If you have an abnormal screening result, you should get a diagnostic test just to be sure.
Try not to compare your results with family or friends as it might lead people to jump to conclusions. You may not have had the same type of test done as them so your results could be completely different. Don’t even think of posting it on Facebook or you’ll get free consultations from cyber trolls.
Generally doctors recommend people in high risk groups to conduct these tests just to be safe. People at risk are:
- People who are obese.
- People over age 65.
- Blood relatives of people with diabetes.
- People with high blood pressure or very high blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
- Women with unexplained miscarriages or stillbirths or who have had babies weighing 9 pounds or more at birth.
- People with a condition known as “impaired glucose tolerance”.
HealthWorks is currently running a series on diabetes, click here to read more on this silent killer.