Friday, May 22, 2009

Do You Have Diabetes? Three Ways To Test

By: Alice Saracho

Over the years, diabetes has slowly become a major public health problem. Over twenty million people in the U.S. have diabetes, most of them with type 2 diabetes. With the federal government and insurance companies facing increasing medical costs of treating diabetes and its associated problems, there is a great incentive to begin identifying those at risk for diabetes before they actually develop this chronic disease.

One way of determining this is with different kinds of diabetes pre-screening tests. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which a person has excess sugar in the blood. You can't perform testing, however, by merely drawing blood and measuring the glucose levels. This is because a meaningful percentage of the populace has normal blood glucose levels during the day but elevated glucose levels as they eat throughout the day. Any valid test for diabetes has to take this into account.

Medical care practitioners use 3 primary text to determine if someone has diabetes. What they measure is how fast and efficiently your body is able to clear excess glucose from your blood stream. If the test reveals that you have relatively high glucose levels, it is a good indication that you have glucose intolerance, pre-diabetes, or diabetes. The 3 tests are:

1) Random or casual plasma glucose testing - the patient can be tested at any point in the day. According to the American Diabetes Association, if the test shows a casual plasma glucose concentration of 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), it has met the criteria for a diagnosis of diabetes.

2) Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) testing - often called the fasting blood sugar test due to the fact that the patient has to fast before the test is given. In this context, fasting means that the patient has not ingested food or drink, other than water, for at least 8 hours before the test. This test is probably most convenient for the patient when performed first thing in the morning after a night's sleep. The test measures blood glucose levels. The normal glucose level after fasting is about 100 mg/dl. If the glucose concentration is 126 mg/dl or more, a diagnosis of diabetes can be made . Monitoring of the blood glucose measurements goes on throughout the day. This test is very popular with insurance companies and health care providers because it's relatively inexpensive. This is also a standard test given to check for pre-diabetes.

3) Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) - The best and most comprehensive of the tests. It is more sensitive than the FPG test and can test for impaired glucose intolerance which the other two cannot. It's also the most expensive, making it the least popular with insurance companies and health providers. The test is performed two hours after orally taking 75 grams of glucose. A diagnosis of diabetes can be made if the blood glucose results show 200 mg/dl or greater.

It is possible that a test, for any number of reasons, can give a false positive and indicate that a person has diabetes when, in fact he doesn't. Because of this, if a test shows positive, it should be repeated to confirm the results.

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Alice Saracho is webmaster and owner of On her site you'll find articles about the juvenile diabetes association and other diabetes related topics.

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