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Cheryl A. Major: Diagnosing Diabetes

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WESTFORD — The following column was submitted by member Cheryl Major for publication and distribution by WestfordCAT.

If you suspect you may be developing issues with high blood sugar or if you are at risk for developing it because of your family history, diagnosing diabetes is a subject with which you want to be familiar.

The most commonly used tool to diagnose diabetes is the glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. Your doctor uses this blood test to determine what your average blood sugar level has been for the past two or three months. Your blood sugar can spike from time to time, so getting an average over a few months is a preferred reading. I have a friend who ate a chocolate bar before going for his yearly checkup because he was hungry. His blood sugar reading was off the charts and caused him a considerable amount of stress before everything was cleared up. True story…

Certain foods cause a release of more glucose than others (I site the aforementioned chocolate bar), so after a meal, you may experience an elevated blood sugar level. Your blood sugar can also drop below healthy levels from time to time.

Experiencing high blood sugar is not necessarily a sign of pre-diabetes or diabetes if it is infrequent. What an A1C test indicates is whether or not you have a chronic blood sugar problem. You can request your doctor perform an A1C test so you can find out if your blood sugar level is in a healthy range if he or she doesn’t include it in your annual blood work.

If your test shows a 5.7% or lower level, this is considered normal and healthy. If you test between 5.7% and 6.4%, this indicates pre-diabetes. A result of 6.5% or higher indicates you have diabetes.

Alternatives to the A1C Test

If you have an uncommon hemoglobin form, or if for some reason an A1C test is not available, your doctor will turn to one of the following testing alternatives used when diagnosing diabetes.

  • Fasting blood sugar test – Your doctor will take a blood sample after you have fasted for at least 12 hours. If the test results are less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of glucose in your blood, congratulations, this is within normal range. A level of 100 to 125 mg/dL indicates pre-diabetes and over 126 mg/dL signals you are diabetic.
  • Random blood sugar test – Instead of asking you to fast, your doctor may take a random blood sugar test at any time. This may be because of scheduling difficulties when you cannot fast for the desired amount of time before getting a fasting blood sugar test. Regardless of when you may have last eaten, a blood sugar reading of 200 mg/dL or higher will bring a diagnosis of possible diabetes requiring further testing and investigation.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test – This test is not very common. Like the fasting blood sugar test, you will be asked to go without eating for a specific time. Your doctor will give you a sweet, sugary liquid concoction to drink, after which your blood sugar level will be tested several times over the next two hours. A reading of less than 140 mg/dL is normal. If you score between 140 and 199, this indicates pre-diabetes. A reading of over 200 after the two-hour testing period suggests that you have diabetes.

Personally, I have had a glucose tolerance test. I had symptoms quite a few years ago that indicated I had issues with my blood sugar levels. What the results showed was that I was severely hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) not hyperglycemic (diabetic). I still had to alter my diet significantly in order to maintain an even glucose reading and to avoid becoming pre-diabetic or eventually diabetic.

With the advent of smart devices today, you can purchase and install blood sugar monitors that use your phone to process, record, and track your blood sugar testing. Test strips are also available, allowing you to conduct testing on your own. While this is never a substitute for a medical diagnosis, if diabetes runs in your family, tracking this may help you keep an eye on your glucose levels. It may give you a heads-up as to when you should go for formal testing, have discussions with your doctor about any concerns you may have and discuss how your doctor recommends diagnosing diabetes.

In my world, we changed our diet to back my husband Rob off from prediabetes. I wrote about it extensively in my first book, “Eat Your Blues Away”. In it, you’ll find lots of suggestions and actions you can take to help move you and your blood sugar in the right direction!

Regardless of your family history or personal experience with blood sugar issues, it’s in your best interest to eat whole foods, avoid sugary and highly processed foods and get adequate amounts of exercise to maintain a healthy weight and avoid issues with pre-diabetes and diabetes.

This article originally appeared on https://ThinStrongHealthy.com 

Questions and comments are always welcome! You can email me: Cheryl at ThinStrongHealthy dot com.

Helping You Achieve Major Wellness!

Cheryl A Major, CNWC

I’m author, health coach, and entrepreneur Cheryl A Major, and I would love to connect with you! If you’re new to the world of creating better health, both mental and physical for yourself, please check out my training on how to get sugar out of your diet. Crack Your Sugar Habit is where to check it out. Learn how sugar, as yummy as it may taste to you now, affects your mental and physical health and how to go about reducing or eliminating it from your diet. 

P.S. Be sure to follow me on Twitter so you won’t miss my daily postings for health, wellness and mindset!

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