India has over 62 million cases of diabetes as of today – the highest in the world since 2000. Combined with our genetic predisposition to diabetes and our increasingly fast-paced lifestyle, getting tested for diabetes is a must. While Type 1 diabetes shows its symptoms in a shorter span of time, the other types can have a more gradual onset of symptoms and thus can go undetected for a considerable period of time. Hence, undergoing periodical blood tests to diagnose diabetes helps with timely detection and treatment.
What is diabetes?
Your normal blood sugar level should be in between 70-100mg/dL during fasting, and should not exceed 125mg/dL after a meal. Diabetes is a condition in which the level of sugar present in your blood increases beyond the normal level. There are some early signs of diabetes that one can catch, including increased thirst and hunger, drying of the mouth, unexplained weight loss, headaches and increased urination with frequent instances of urine infection.
When should you get a blood sugar level test done?
Getting tested for diabetes is necessary when you start noticing its symptoms. Apart from these, if you had a history of gestational diabetes (diabetes that occurs during pregnancy), you are over the age of 45 or have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more, you must keep a check on your blood sugar level and get it tested every three years.
Common lab tests for diabetes
Diabetes can be diagnosed with a number of tests that are conducted using your blood samples. Here is a list of tests that could inform you about the level of sugar in your blood:
- Hb A1c Test (Glycated Haemoglobin A1c test) – This blood test informs you about the blood sugar level that your body has maintained over the previous 2 or 3 months. This result is achieved by calculating the percentage of oxygen attached to the haemoglobin molecules. An A1c level of 6.3 or less is considered to be normal and 6.5 or more indicates that you have diabetes.
- Fasting Blood Glucose Test – The objective of this test is to measure the amount of glucose level in your blood after fasting. (Minimum of 8 hours and a maximum of 16 hours) Fasting blood sugar level in a non-diabetic person should not ideally exceed 100mg/dL.
- Post Prandial Blood Glucose Test – This test is conducted to assess the change in your blood sugar level after a meal. As a standard it is conducted 2 hours after you have eaten. The normal level of post prandial blood glucose should remain less than 140mg/dL.
Complications from diabetes
Apart from the condition itself, there are a string of complications from diabetes that could cause havoc in your body and must be taken care of on an emergency basis. A few of these conditions are:
- Diabetic neuropathy (nerve problems caused due to diabetes)
- Diabetic retinopathy (eye problems caused due to diabetes)
- Kidney failure
Diabetes and the problems associated with it makes it important for you to keep a constant vigilance on the glucose level in your blood and take necessary steps to manage it in case they shift from the normal limit. A blood test can be extremely useful to prevent and control diabetes.