Diabetes is growing significantly in the United States, with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stating that 9.4% of the country’s population (30 million people) has diabetes. Another 84 million have prediabetes, which can lead to full blown diabetes within 5 years if not treated.1
Diabetes can be silent, developing without any symptoms or indications that it is damaging the body’s organs. The complications from diabetes are numerous. Having diabetes puts one at significantly higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness. Circulation problems in the legs can develop because of diabetes, and in the worst instances, can lead to tissue death requiring amputation. Diabetes can also damage the nerves (called neuropathy), causing tingling, numbness, and burning pain in the hands and feet. Diabetes also damages the filtering system in the kidneys, leading to kidney disease that could require dialysis or a kidney transplant. Symptoms of depression are more common in people with diabetes, which can affect diabetes management.
Treatment for diabetes may include insulin, medications to stimulate insulin production in the pancreas, weight loss, and increased activity. People with diabetes are required to monitor their blood glucose levels several times a day.2
The Type 2 Diabetes test is a quick and easy finger-stick blood glucose screening called a hemoglobin A1c. It calculates the average glucose level in your blood over the previous 2-3 months, and is the medical standard for understanding if your body is using glucose properly. Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells, and is responsible for moving oxygen through the body. When glucose enters the bloodstream, it binds to the hemoglobin. Red blood cells live about 3 months, so the Hemoglobin A1c is reported as a percentage of the red blood cells that have glucose bound to them. A hemoglobin A1c measurement of 5.6% and below is in the normal range; hemoglobin A1c at or above 5.7% is considered high, and should be followed up with your personal care physician. It could indicate prediabetes, which should be managed so it does not develop into diabetes. For the type 2 diabetes test to be accurate, you must fast (no food or drink other than water) for 12 hours prior to your screening.
Most people with Type 2 Diabetes live with it for years without realizing they have it. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed here, you should consider getting a glucose screening test for diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes testing is medically appropriate (and recommended) for all adults age 45 and older, as well as adults younger than age 45 with any risk factors for diabetes.
Screening is recommended for all adults 45+ or for younger people with risk factors.
A glucose screening test for diabetes should be repeated every 3 years beginning at age 45, unless prediabetes is present. Adults with prediabetes should be screened annually. Talk to your personal physician about your risk factors and your current medical condition; he or she may request that you are screened for diabetes more frequently.
*Screening availability may be limited by location.
1. Centers for Disease Control, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/index.html