Adult Diabetes Screenings

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), around 23 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease where your blood glucose (commonly referred to as blood sugar) levels are too high.

Having diabetes and not treating it properly can cause many health problems, including the development of heart disease. Because of this, it is very important that anyone older than 45 years of age or older anyone with diabetes risk factors is tested for diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease where your blood glucose levels are too high because the glucose is not being used appropriately by your body. Glucose comes from the foods you eat and is one of your main energy sources when it gets into your cells. Insulin is a hormone naturally produced by an organ in you body called the pancreas that helps the glucose get into your cells so that it can be used for energy. However, if you suffer from diabetes, your body either doesn’t make insulin or it doesn’t make insulin well enough. Therefore, too much glucose stays in your bloodstream and ends up causing health problems.

The most common type of diabetes is Type 2 diabetes, which occurs when your pancreas does not make insulin appropriately and does not make enough insulin. To treat Type 2 diabetes, you will need to take certain diabetes medications and possibly administer insulin injections. Type 2 diabetes commonly affects middle-aged adults, although it can develop at any age. There are ways to prevent Type 2 diabetes, but if that is not possible, proactive treatment is the best way to handle the condition if it develops.

Who should be tested?

In general, for preventive health care measures, diabetes screenings are performed as part of a routine check-up if you are 45 years of age or older. Also, a diabetes screening may be recommended for you if you have diabetes risk factors or attributes that give you an increased likelihood of developing diabetes. Type 2 diabetes risk factors include:

  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Being 45 years of age and older.
  • Having a family history of diabetes.
  • Having high blood pressure.
  • Having a history of heart disease or stroke.
  • Being diagnosed with depression.
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
  • Physical inactivity.

There are quite a few other risk factors that can make you more susceptible to adult diabetes. For example, people who are African American, American Indian, Alaska Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander are more at risk for Type 2 diabetes.

You should also talk to your doctor about a diabetes screening if you:

  • Are a woman who had gestational diabetes during your pregnancy or gave birth to a baby weighing nine pounds or more.
  • Are between the ages of 19 and 44 and are overweight or obese in addition to having one or more of the risk factors mentioned above.

Symptoms of Diabetes

If you believe that you have any of the symptoms of diabetes, you need to have a screening done to determine whether or not you indeed have diabetes. Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet.
  • Increased appetite, urination or thirst.
  • Sores or bruises that do not heal very quickly.
  • Inexplicable weight loss.

Types of Diabetes Screenings

There are three different tests that are used to screen for diabetes, though two of them are used much more frequently. Usually, health care professionals use the fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test or the A1C test. However, in some cases, a test called the random plasma glucose (RPG) test is performed.

  1. Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test: This test requires a sample of your blood, and it will measure your blood sugar level at that particular point in time. This test is most effective if you do not eat anything or drink anything besides some water for at least eight hours. Generally, the test is performed in the morning before you eat anything.

Note: Diabetes is not officially confirmed unless two separate FPG tests show a high glucose result indicating diabetes.

  1. A1C test (also called the glycosylated hemoglobin or HbA1C test): This test also uses a sample of your blood to test your blood glucose levels, although it is able to provide your average levels of blood glucose over the past three months. Your doctor or health care professional will report your A1C test results as a percentage, and A1C levels over 6.5 percent indicate a diabetic condition. However, it should be noted that the A1C test may not be accurate for you if you have a blood issue such as anemia, or if you are of African, Mediterranean, or Southeast Asian heritage.
  2. Random plasma glucose (RPG) test: Although it is not used as often, in some cases a health care provider may use an RPG test to screen for diabetes. This test also uses a blood sample to test for diabetes, but it does not require you to have fasted beforehand. This test is called a “random” plasma glucose test because this blood test can be performed at any time, typically when symptoms of diabetes occur.

Because each test is different and may show varied results due to a few different factors, you will need to speak with your physician or health care professional in order to determine which test is best for you. Also, you should also understand that regardless of which test is to be taken, all three must be taken by a trained professional in a clinic setting. Simply testing your blood glucose levels on your own is not enough to officially diagnose diabetes.

Why You Should Get Tested

It is very important to get screened for diabetes if you are having symptoms or if you have any of the risk factors for diabetes. If you have diabetes and do not know it, you are not going to be receiving the necessary treatment. Diabetes that goes untreated can lead to many different serious health issues including heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, eye disease or blindness, foot issues, kidney disease, bladder and sexual problems and more. Diabetes is also linked to other health problems such as certain cancers, depression and dementia.

As part of preventive health care, it is necessary to get screened for diabetes so that you can either learn how to further avoid diabetes or learn how to properly manage it. If your diabetes is managed properly, you can absolutely live a very long, healthy and fulfilling life.

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