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The Most Common Types of Diabetes Tests: A Guide

Team AckoOct 14, 2022

Diabetes tests are conducted to check two significant potential health issues. First and foremost, it is used to diagnose a person with different stages of diabetes like type 1, type 2, gestational or prediabetic. Secondly, the test for diabetes provides a clear result about the blood glucose level in the body. Diabetes is a challenge in India due to its rising numbers. In order to ensure your health, you can easily keep a check on your blood sugar levels at home. A few additional tests can be prescribed by the doctor depending on your symptoms and prevailing health conditions. This article covers the different types of tests for diabetes and how they are conducted. Read on to know more!

Types of Diabetes Tests

There are three types of tests for diabetes that include blood tests, urine tests, and gestational tests. These tests are generally prescribed for thorough routine checking of blood sugar levels. Discover more about each one of these tests in detail below.

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Blood Test for Diabetes

A blood test for Diabetes is primarily conducted to determine the stage of diabetes the patient suffers from. Four different types/stages of diabetes can be traced through blood tests- Prediabetes, Diabetes type 1, Diabetes type 2 and Gestational diabetes. Blood tests are the most common and preferred way of testing diabetes as it is simple, hassle-free and reliable. Many people take blood tests for diabetes regularly and have made it a part of their routine check-ups. The results of these tests usually take only a few days.

However, there are different types of blood tests for diabetes. The doctor may prescribe one or more of these tests to get a clear impression of your blood sugar level. These tests are as follows:

1) A1c Test for Diabetes

This blood test is conducted to diagnose people with prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, it is done for people who have already been diagnosed with certain criteria for diabetes. These patients are the ones who are undergoing treatment and maintaining a healthy lifestyle to improve their health. They undergo these tests regularly to keep track of their improvement and manage their blood sugar levels. This test is also referred to as Glycated haemoglobin and Glycosylated haemoglobin.

A1c test determines the average blood sugar level in about 2 to 3 months by calculating the percentage of haemoglobin proteins that have been coated with sugar. However, one day's test does not give you the complete result of how your treatment has been working for you. People with diabetes need to run this test regularly to know if their sugar levels are within the normal range. This test alerts you if you need to adjust your doses of diabetes medicines. Here is a table that details how often you may be required to take this test. Your physician can guide you through the same by considering your treatment plan effectively.

Type of Treatment Frequency of Tests in a Year
Prediabetes 1
If you do not take insulin, but blood sugar levels are in the normal range 2
If you use insulin but blood sugar levels do not stay in the normal range 4

A normal A1c level is less than 5.7%, whereas anything between 5.7% and 6.4% is considered prediabetes. A level of more than 6.5% confirms diabetes.

2) Random Blood Sugar Test for Diabetes

This diabetes blood test is conducted randomly and determines the sugar level at the time of testing. This implies that the test can be conducted at any time, and there is no requirement for fasting. Further, this test can be easily done at home using a device that reads blood sugar levels from the strip. Patients with diabetes often find this device useful as it can be used anywhere without much hassle. However, an important point to note here is that a random blood sugar test is done for patients who have already been diagnosed with diabetes and not for the ones who want to determine whether they have diabetes type 1 or 2. A doctor will prescribe more specific tests to determine the type of diabetes. A blood sugar level above 200mg/dL confirms diabetes in a blood sugar test.

3) Fasting Blood Sugar Tests for Diabetes

A fasting blood sugar test measures glucose in your blood. It is conducted after an overnight fast. It is a simple and frequently used common test to diagnose prediabetes, diabetes, or gestational diabetes. This test functions on the main principle of calculating the release of glucose by the body with the help of insulin. For example, our body releases sugars after a meal into the bloodstream. Following this, the hormone insulin is released, which works and breaks down sugar for storage. In a person who has diabetes, this storage mechanism does not function properly. Under this situation, your body does not release enough insulin to deal with the increment in sugar levels, wherein the body starts to attack the insulin it has produced. The fasting blood sugar test is done to understand insulin creation and sugar maintenance in the body clearly. It is helpful to formulate treatment plans for people who have diabetes.

The following table highlights the test results for fasting blood sugar. You can determine the severity of your situation by looking at the table below

Amount of Blood Sugar in mg/DL Results
<=99mg/dL Normal
100-125 mg/dL Prediabetes
>= 126 mg/dL Diabetes

4) Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

This diabetes test is done to measure your body's response to sugar. The glucose tolerance test is generally used to diagnose type 2 diabetes. A further modified version of the glucose tolerance test is used to screen for gestational diabetes. The glucose tolerance test checks for abnormalities in the way your body breaks down glucose after a meal. To conduct the test, you need to fast overnight. Following this, the fasting blood sugar level is tested. Later, you are allowed to eat and drink in your usual manner. Your blood sugar level will be tested again after the next two hours. 

The following table shows the Test Results for Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

Amount of Blood Sugar in mg/DL Results
140mg/dL or below Normal
140-199mg/dL Prediabetes
200mg/dL Diabetes

Urine Test for Diabetes

Urine tests are not preferred to diagnose diabetes, but they are used for monitoring blood sugar levels in your body by calculating the ketone presence in urine. If you have type 1 diabetes, you must do ketone testing in urine instead of glucose testing. The body uses fat to produce energy whenever there is an increment in the blood sugar level or a decrease in insulin. The by-product of this process is released as ketones and passes away in urine. Hence, a urine test can provide details about your body's lack of insulin or sugar levels.

An abnormal result indicates the presence of ketones in your urine. The results are generally listed as small, moderate, or large as follows:

  • Small: <20 mg/dL

  • Moderate: 30 to 40 mg/dL

  • Large: >80 mg/dL

Gestational Diabetes Tests

This test for diabetes is specifically done for a pregnant woman at the early stages of pregnancy. Doctors further evaluate gestational diabetes into two types depending upon the severity of the condition.

High Risk for Gestational Diabetes

This is when a pregnant woman is tested for diabetes during her first prenatal check-up. The following conditions are considered for the test:

  • If you were diagnosed with gestational diabetes during any of your previous pregnancies.

  • If you are obese at the onset of your pregnancy.

  • If you have blood relatives suffering from diabetes.

Average Risk for Gestational Diabetes

If you are diagnosed with an average risk of gestational diabetes, you will be tested during the second trimester of your pregnancy. There are two tests that the doctor may conduct to find out if you have gestational diabetes. One is the initial glucose challenge test, where a pregnant woman is asked to drink a glucose solution, and after an hour, tests are performed to measure the blood sugar level. Based on the initial test results, the doctor may prescribe further tests. If the blood sugar is more than 140mg/dL, then you are at risk for gestational diabetes. Anything below 140mg/dL is considered normal.

Secondly, there is a follow-up glucose tolerance test identical to the oral glucose tolerance test. If a minimum of two blood sugar test readings are higher than the normal range, then gestational diabetes is confirmed.

Conclusion

Apart from the above tests, there are a few other tests that diabetes patients can take to ensure proper health conditions. Some of them include a complete blood count test, cholesterol test, triglycerides test, C-peptides test and insulin antibodies test. However, you are advised not to perform these tests or take medicines without proper consultation. Your doctor will prescribe specific tests and the frequency of those tests depends on your health condition.

FAQs

Which tests for diabetes are the most precise?

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The Ac1 test is the most effective and accurate diabetes test that helps trace long-term diabetes issues. It is preferred by most doctors to rule out any possibility of a threat to your health.

Can diabetes be cured?

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No, diabetes can be regulated. A healthy lifestyle, strict diet and regular exercise can help you to control your blood sugar levels. You can easily tackle diabetes and live a normal life.

Can a test for diabetes be conducted at home?

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Yes, diabetes tests can be carried out at home easily with the help of a glucose monitoring device. You can buy a kit with a lancet, paper strips and a monitoring device. If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, you can do home tests to check your blood sugar level regularly.

References

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet. As this content piece is not vetted by a medical professional, please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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