How to Test for Diabetes Type

Diabetes is a very common metabolic disorder. The global prevalence of diabetes has increased from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014. It is also a major cause of kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, and lower limb amputation. The good news is that it can be managed. Moreover, its complications can be delayed or prevented with physical activity, diet, regular screening, and medication.

Diabetes Mellitus and its Types
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder that occurs when the body doesn’t make enough insulin or the body cells are resistant to the insulin present. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the beta cells of the pancreas. It plays an important role in maintaining blood glucose levels. Insulin is essential for the body cells to utilize glucose. In the absence of insulin, the cells are unable to use glucose in the blood, resulting in high blood glucose levels. Higher levels of glucose in the blood can cause serious damage to the body’s systems, especially the blood vessels and nerves. Prediabetes is a state where the blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. It can be reversed by dietary and lifestyle modifications.

Diabetes Mellitus is of the following two major types:
Type 1 diabetes mellitus: It is an autoimmune condition where the body’s own immune cells wrongly attack the beta cells of the pancreas. This results in insulin deficiency and higher blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus: In this type of diabetes mellitus, the body cells are resistant to the insulin present. This state is known as insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes is more common when compared to type 1 diabetes and affects the majority of the population suffering from diabetes. Excess body weight and physical inactivity are the major contributors to this condition.

Symptoms of Diabetes
● Polyuria (increased frequency of urination)
● Polydipsia (excessive thirst)
● Polyphagia (Constant hunger)
● Weight loss
● Fatigue
● Vision changes

Confirming the diagnosis of either type of diabetes typically involves one or more of the below-mentioned blood tests:

Test for type 2 diabetes mellitus:

1. HbA1C: It is a blood test, which provides average levels of blood glucose over the last 3 months. This test is not accurate in individuals suffering from anemia. Fasting is not required before this test.
● Normal: Less than 5.7%
● Prediabetes: 5.7% to 6.4%
● Diabetes: 6.5% or higher

2. Fasting glucose test: It should be measured after at least 8 hours of fasting.
● Normal: 70-100 mg/dl
● Prediabetes: 100-125 mg/dl
● Diabetes: More than 126 mg/dl

3. Oral glucose tolerance test: A fasting blood sample is taken. This is followed by taking a drink containing 75 g of glucose. Another blood sample is taken 2 hours after this drink.
● Normal: Less than 139 mg/dl
● Prediabetes: 140-199 mg/dl
● Diabetes: More than 200 mg/dl

4. Random glucose test: In this test, the blood sample can be taken anytime, regardless of when you had your last meal.
● Normal: Less than 200 mg/dl
● Diabetes: More than 200 mg/dl

Test for type 2 diabetes mellitus:
All the above-mentioned tests hold true for type 1 diabetes as well. However, some additional tests are required to confirm the diagnosis and they are as mentioned below:

1. Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase Autoantibodies (GADA or Anti-GAD): This test looks for antibodies against a specific enzyme in the pancreatic beta cells.
2. Insulin Autoantibodies: It tests antibodies targeting insulin.

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder. It is also a major cause of limb amputation, stroke, and heart diseases. Regular monitoring by frequent blood sugar tests can aid in diagnosing this condition at an initial level. Some of the blood sugar test types are random, fasting, and oral glucose tolerance test.