Diabetes Tests & Diagnosis

May 7th 2016

Physical Exam

Routine physical exams help doctors diagnose diabetes. A doctor might ask questions pertaining to your energy levels and vision since diabetes can cause problems for both. The doctor will also check your weight, ask you about your diet, and assess your exercise habits. Be sure to tell the doctor whether you feel tired or whether you are experiencing any tingling or numbness in your legs.

Your doctor will ask you questions about your family's medical history. If diabetes runs in your family, then you are likely to develop the condition as well, so be prepared to explain whether your parents, siblings, or grandparents have suffered from type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Based on your responses to these questions, the doctor will determine a series of follow- up tests to perform in order to diagnose your condition effectively.

The doctor will check the condition of your skin and bones on your feet and legs. You will also need to undergo quick tests to determine whether you are experiencing any numbness in your feet and legs. The doctor might also take your blood pressure to determine whether you are experiencing high blood pressure or hypertension.

Blood Tests

Doctors use several blood tests to identify both type 1 and type 2 diabetes:

  • With a fasting blood glucose test, the doctor will ask you not to eat for a number of hours before going to the doctor's office or lab. This test will measure how much glucose you have in your bloodstream when you are not digesting food. This test can help identify whether you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, which means that you have a high risk for developing diabetes.
  • An oral glucose tolerance test is another test that is used to confirm diabetes.
  • For a random blood glucose test, the doctor will not ask you to fast.
  • People with diabetes require regular hemoglobin A1c tests to determine whether the average blood glucose level is changing.

Urine Test

A urine test measures ketones in the system. Many people who have diabetes develop large amounts of ketones, which are broken down fatty acids and amino acids. In any case, urine tests do not conclusively diagnose diabetes. A doctor will almost always follow up with a blood test.

Ketone urine tests are more common for type 1 diabetes. A doctor will also perform keytone tests in other instances such as when you are pregnant, experiencing a heart attack, vomiting, or suffering from a stroke.

Monitoring Tests

After you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you may need to monitor your blood sugar throughout the day, especially before and after meals. Many monitoring kits are available at local drugstores for this purpose.

These testing kits can analyze glucose levels based on a small sample of blood. You may need to prick your finger in order to collect blood. Many of these monitoring tests can provide you with an accurate reading within seconds.

Following Up

Without regular preventative testing, it is difficult to determine how long a person has had diabetes since the condition can develop at different rates. After diagnosis, the doctor will ask a series of questions to assess the extent of damage. You may be asked to recall symptoms of headaches, shaking, numbness, tingling, weakness, or changes to appetite.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you will need to return to the doctor's office for regular testing. If your diabetes is well controlled, then you will need to have your hemoglobin (HbA1c) tested every six months. If your diabetes is not under control, then you will need to have your hemoglobin tested every three months.

If you have diabetes, it is crucial that you see a dentist every six months for a teeth cleaning. Make sure that you keep your dentist informed about your diabetes. Otherwise, you may develop gum diseases or infections.

Make sure that you continue to have your blood pressure tested, and check your cholesterol levels at least once a year. You will also need to check your organs, especially your kidneys, to make sure that they are continuing to function properly.

If your diabetes is causing your vision to change, then you should visit an ophthalmologist once a year to make sure that you are fitted with the right type of prescription lenses.

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