Learn more about diabetes screenings and why they're important.
For those unaffected, diabetes may seem like a rare condition, but it's more common than many people think. More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, but nearly one-quarter haven't been diagnosed. An additional 84 million people have prediabetes, meaning they're at risk of developing type 2.
There are plenty of treatment options available for people managing this disease, but if left untreated, it can lead to serious complications such as stroke, kidney failure, heart disease, and vision loss. A regular diabetes screening is one of the best ways to get a prompt diagnosis and help prevent these side effects.
To diagnose diabetes, a health care professional will typically use one of four blood screening tests to measure blood sugar levels. The higher the levels, the more likely a person is to get a positive result. A screening test is usually performed twice on two different days to confirm the initial result.
The four screening tests include:
The A1c test and the fasting plasma glucose tests are the most common screenings for diagnosing type 2 diabetes. Depending on your results, you may only need one test.
A diabetes screening is important both for those with symptoms and those without them. Some affected people only show mild symptoms, and a few may have no signs at all. Testing can help you detect the disease early so you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan to help manage your condition.
The American Diabetes Association recommends getting screened every three years starting at age forty-five, whether you have symptoms or not. Anyone who exhibits symptoms or who meets one or more high-risk criteria should be screened earlier and possibly more frequently.
Symptoms may include:
Risk factors can include:
If you meet any high-risk criteria, have been diagnosed with prediabetes, or want to reduce your risk for developing diabetes, there are plenty of lifestyle changes you can make to improve your overall health.
Diabetes is not uncommon, but it doesn't have to define you. With the right management tools, you can effectively treat and even prevent it.
By Joelle Klein
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestion and Kidney Diseases, Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestion and Kidney Diseases, Your Game Plan to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestion and Kidney Diseases, Diabetes Tests & Diagnosis
Endocrineweb, Type 2 Diabetes: Key Facts
American Diabetes Association (ADA), Diabetes Symptoms
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Diabetes Statistics Report
American Diabetes Association, Lower Your Risk
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.