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Diagnosing diabetes and pre-diabetes

How does a doctor determine if you're diabetic?

The diagnosis of diabetes can only be made by a physician, and is officially determined by using a medical laboratory machine. Because symptoms don’t usually occur until glucose levels are a lot higher than diagnostic levels, diabetes is often called a silent disease.

The official diagnosis is made from any one of these test results:

  • Fasting blood glucose: I26 mg or over (normal = under 100) 
  • Random blood glucose: 200 mg or over, with symptoms (normal = under 140) 
  • A1C (three-month average): 6.5% or over (normal = 4–5.6%) 
  • Two hour glucose tolerance test: 200 mg or over (normal = under 140)
  • * A positive test requires one confirmatory test.

Some people question whether they truly have diabetes when first diagnosed. Many would like to believe their glucose test was abnormal for a temporary reason:

  • “I went to a big party and ate a lot of sugary foods.
  • “I drank a lot of sodas.”
  • “It was just after a holiday or big event.”
  • “I had more alcohol than usual.”;
  • “It only measured high once.”
  • “I just got back from vacation.”

However, a person without diabetes is able to indulge in all of the above and more without an abnormal increase of glucose levels. When one doesn’t have diabetes, the body is still able to process excess sugars and starches so that glucose levels stay normal. Glucose levels only go higher than normal once diabetes is in place. Once one has diabetes, glucose levels can be controlled even down into the normal range. However the diabetes does not go away.

What is pre-diabetes?

A person has pre-diabetes when results are between diabetes and normal:

  • Fasting glucose: 100-125 mg 
  • Random glucose: 140-199 mg 
  • A1C: 5.7-6.4%

People with pre-diabetes can reduce their risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent with:

  • Healthier food choices 
  • Some weight loss 
  • Increased activity

Those in the pre-diabetes stage should visit a dietitian so they can see how to set and achieve goals to reduce their risk. Sharing these facts with your friends and loved ones could make a big difference in their lives. Anyone who is over age 20, overweight and has type 2 risk factors should be tested annually.