According to the American Diabetes Association, there are more than 25 million Americans with diabetes, and this number is rising.
It is important to understand your risk for diabetes and receive regular screenings.
With diabetes, your body is not using food energy — glucose — correctly. This leaves too much glucose in the blood system instead of achieving normal balances of glucose in the body's tissues and blood system. Failure to get proper treatment puts a person at risk for significant health complications including heart attacks, stroke, blindness and kidney failure.
Excess glucose in the blood is what health care providers screen for when trying to diagnosis or rule out the existence of diabetes in a person. There are three blood tests used to diagnosis diabetes: the A1c test (hemoglobin A1c), the fasting plasma glucose test (FPG), and the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).
There also is a condition known as pre-diabetes, which affects approximately 79 million Americans. Pre-diabetes almost always occurs before Type 2 diabetes, and it can be missed as a diagnosis without regular screening and correct interpretation. The same tests can be used to diagnosis pre-diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association provides guidelines for diagnosis for each condition. For example, a normal A1c is less than 5.7 percent, while an A1c of greater or equal to 5.7 percent but less than 6.5 percent is considered pre-diabetes.
Anything equal to or greater than 6.5 percent is diabetes.
The correct interpretation of the test results is essential in getting appropriate and prompt treatment. Ask your health care provider to review your results and discuss your risk. Statements such as "you have borderline diabetes," or "your blood sugar is up a little; just watch it," should be followed by questions by the patient to determine a specific diagnosis and what he or she needs to do to improve his or her health.
Both pre-diabetes and diabetes are significant health conditions but can be successfully treated. It is important to receive education on nutrition and exercise and to follow treatment plans, which might include medication.
Ask your doctor to perform regular diabetes screenings and to make time to review the results. Knowing the right diagnosis can help you to take charge of your health.