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Tests For Diabetes-What to Expect

Updated on March 24, 2010

Foot Care Warning

One of the main health concerns in Diabetes is protection of your feet! Always wear closed toe shoes that fit comfortably. Check your feet daily. Be aware of any cut or blisters. Watch these carefully and see your doctor if they show any sign of infection or do not heal!!!

Diabetes is a chronic condition that can cause many health problems unless it is identified and treated early. Diabetes is characterised by having too much sugar (glucose) in your blood. This causes damage to your blood vessels over time. The damage to the blood vessels can lead to other health problems such as kidney disease, heart disease, strokes, vision loss and nerve disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 17.9 million people have been diagnosed with Diabetes in the United States. That means 17.9 million people are on the road to preventing the serious health risks caused by Diabetes. This is good! The alarming part is that 5.7 million people have Diabetes and don't even know it. Could you be one of these people, unknowingly developing diseases that will threaten your life and cause physical disability?

10.7 percent of all people over the age of 20 have Diabetes in the United States of America. This number jumps to 23.1 percent for people 60 years of age or older. That is almost 1/4 of all Americans over the age of 59! See the graph below for the breakdown according to age.

How do you know if you have Diabetes? Your doctor will do some tests to figure this out. You should be tested when you turn 45. However, if you are overweight or have increased risk for developing Diabetes your doctor may want to test you at an earlier age. My last hub on Diabetes, "Diabetes--Risk Factors for Developing Diabetes" described what puts you at risk for developing Diabetes. Please read it to determine if you are at increased risk of developing Diabetes and to find out what you can do to minimize your risk.

Estimated prevalence of diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes in people aged 20 years or older, by age group, United States, 2007

Source: 2003–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimates of total prevalence (both diagnosed and undiagnosed) were projected to year 2007.
Source: 2003–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimates of total prevalence (both diagnosed and undiagnosed) were projected to year 2007.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause for death in the United States. Diabetes puts you at twice the risk of death compared to someone without Diabetes. Diabetes is the number one cause for new cases of blindness, kidney failure and lower extremity amputations not caused by injury in people aged 20 to 74. People with Diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to have a stroke or die from heart disease than people without Diabetes.

I know it is not pleasant to give blood, but it is more pleasant than death. Most of the tests for Diabetes are done on your blood, some are done on your urine. Having these tests done and identifying Diabetes early significantly reduces the occurrence of associated health problems.

Fasting Blood Glucose

You probably have had this test if you have had a physical exam and had blood drawn. A fasting blood glucose test (FBG) can be done with the blood your doctor draws during a physical exam. This test will tell how much glucose is floating around in your blood. This test is usually the first indication that something may be wrong with your blood glucose levels.

The normals have changed over the years, getting lower and lower. The current normal is 70 to 99. Higher levels will show either pre-diabetes (usually 100-125) or diabetes (126 or more). If the results are high your doctor will probably want to repeat this test. You may also be asked to do a test called an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).

You cannot have anything to eat of drink for 8 hours before this test. If you cheat, the results will be high and your doctor will want to do it again.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

The oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is a series of blood glucose tests, beginning with a fasting blood glucose (FBG) test. After the FBG is done, you will be given a sugar solution to drink. One to two hours later the FBG is repeated. This sequence may or may not be repeated a number of times. A word of warning, the sugar solution may taste awful!

You may not eat or drink for 8 hours prior to having this test done. Bring a book, a magazine or your laptop with you. You will want to have something to do while you are waiting for the second (and possibly third and fourth) blood test.

The first blood test results should be the same as the FBG results listed above. The subsequent tests must be less than 140 to be considered normal. 140 to 200 will indicate pre-diabetes, while results of over 200 indicate diabetes.


The A1C test is a blood test the measures how good your blood sugar has been for the last 120 days. Remember, the main way to reduce your risk of complications such as kidney disease and blindness is to keep your blood glucose under control. This means keeping your fasting blood glucose as close to 100 as possible. Unless you are required to check your blood glucose daily, you have no other means of telling how you have been doing.

The goal for a diabetic person is to keep their A1C under 7. A person without diabetes will have an A1C reading of 4 to 6. The A1C test readings are taken from hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a component of your red blood cells. If you have a condition that affects your red blood cell or hemoglobin, such as sickle cell disease or anemia, your A1C reading may be falsely low.

A1C testing has been used to monitor changes in medication, correct use of home glucose monitoring equipment, and changes caused by better diet and increased exercise. It is a valuable tool for telling you how well your diabetes is under control. This test will not tell you how high your blood glucose was on the day it was taken.

Don't stick your finger in the middle!
Don't stick your finger in the middle!
Always stick your finger on the side!
Always stick your finger on the side!

Daily Finger Sticks

Daily finger sticks tests the blood glucose at the moment. Most usually, someone with diabetes will have a home blood glucose measuring device. This is necessary if you have to take insulin. Your doctor may also request you do this if you have changed your medication or are newly diagnosed.

Daily finger sticks are also know as blood glucose tests. The main difference is that the person will do this at home, one to four times a day. It involves using a device (called a lancet) that pokes your finger so you can get one drop of blood. The drop of blood is put on a piece of paper that is like a very thin cardboard. This board goes into a hand held machine that will (usually) display the results within a minute.

The results tell you what your blood sugar is at that moment. Most usually people will use this to decide how much insulin to take, based on instructions from their doctor. Most usually these tests are taken after awakening, before eating breakfast; before lunch; before dinner; and before bedtime.

It is important to rotate the sites that your stick. ALWAYS stick on the side of the finger, never on the part that touches things. Stick one finger at a time and rotate through them. When you return to the first finger, stick it on the side in an area you have not stuck last time. Never stick on the finger pad and rotate sites to avoid complications.

Other Tests

Your doctor may ask for additional tests based on you signs and symptoms.  Remember that your doctor is just trying to do what is best for you.  Help your doctor by following the directions given to you.

Watch this for a laugh!!!


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    • ncuxapa_ profile image


      9 years ago

      Very informative, very good :)

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks frogyfish! I'm glad you stopped by! :)

    • frogyfish profile image


      10 years ago from Central United States of America

      Very good and well explained information here. Thanks!

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      Birte, Denial is a strong emotion! I call people and ask them their health history prior to having surgery. I would say 85% lie strongly about what is wrong with their health. I do not think they are telling me a lie...they just do not see themselves that way.

      Many people think, "what I don't know, can't hurt me", granted they are wrong. They could live so much more happier if they knew...but it is prevalent, they don't want to change.

      PS: I am trying to write the hub of sexy men with hair

    • BirteEdwards profile image


      10 years ago

      Strange how some people walk around with diabetes (or other ailments) and don't do something about it. But knowing a little about health care problems in the US, that could be one reason.

      This information should be distributed as widely as possible

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      shamelabboush, It's funny that I started these hubs as an answer to a request of someone who has (seemingly) never been back. Thanks for stopping by!

    • shamelabboush profile image


      10 years ago

      Useful topic. Thanks K@ri.


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