Who is at Risk

Nearly 26 million Americans – or 8.3% of the population have diabetes. Almost a third of Americans with diabetes – 7 million people – don't even know that they have the disease.

Diabetes can affect anyone, but some people are more likely to develop the disease than others. You may be more likely to develop diabetes if you have one or more of the following risk factors:

  • Are overweight or obese
  • Are 45 years old or older
  • Are African American, Hispanic, Asian or Native American
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have low HDL or "good" cholesterol in your blood
  • Have high triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood)
  • Have a family member who has diabetes
  • Are a woman who has had diabetes while pregnant or have had a baby that weighed more than nine pounds at birth

Who should be tested for Diabetes?

Everyone 45 years old or older should ask their doctor about being tested for diabetes. Diabetes testing is strongly recommended for people 45 or older and overweight. Testing is also recommended for people younger than 45 who have one or more of the risk factors above.

Symptoms of Diabetes

The symptoms of diabetes can seem harmless, which is why many people with diabetes don't realize they have the disease. If left untreated, however, diabetes can damage your organs, blood vessels and nerves. If you belong to any of the above high-risk groups and you experience any of the symptoms below, you should get tested for diabetes right away:

  • Increased urination
  • Frequent thirst
  • Unexplained hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent vaginal yeast infections
  • Sores that do not heal

Testing for Diabetes

Your doctor can tell if you have diabetes by measuring your blood sugar levels. There are several tests your doctor might perform.

Fasting Blood Glucose
The most reliable test is the fasting blood glucose test. This test is usually performed in the morning before a person has eaten anything or after an eight-hour fast. Blood glucose is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

Normal = 99mg/dl or below
Pre-diabetes = 100 to 125 mg/dL
Diabetes = 126mg/dl and above

( To confirm diagnosis the test is done twice)

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
The oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) can diagnose diabetes and is very good at detecting pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes. People taking this test must fast for at least eight hours before taking the test. The doctor measures blood glucose immediately before and two hours after the patient drinks a liquid that contains a small amount of glucose.

Normal = 139mg/dl and below
Pre-diabetes = 140 to 199mg/dl
Diabetes = 200mg/dl and above

For a diagnosis of gestational diabetes, values are above normal at two or more of the times below:

95mg/dl or higher after fasting
180mg/dl or higher at one hour
155mg/dl or higher at two hours
140mg/dl or higher at three hours

Random Plasma Glucose Test
Your doctor can also test your blood glucose at any time of the day without requiring you to fast. You likely have diabetes if your glucose level is 200 mg/dL or more AND you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Increased urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Unexplained feelings of hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Have experienced blurry eyesight
  • Have experienced frequent vaginal yeast infections
  • Have sores that do not heal

To confirm a diagnosis of diabetes, your doctor will retest your blood sugar levels by using the fasting blood glucose test or the oral glucose tolerance test (OGCT).