Diabetes 101: What to Know

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Diabetes 101

Diabetes symptoms

Symptoms of diabetes include:

• increased thirst and hunger
• frequent urination
• fatigue
• weakness
• blurred vision
• numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
• cuts or sores that don’t heal
• frequent yeast infections
• unexplained weight loss
• areas of darkened skin on the neck and in the armpits (called acanthosis nigricans)

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes usually appear very quickly — often within a matter of weeks. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes tend to develop more slowly — over many years, even — and for this reason, some people don’t notice any symptoms. In addition, many people who have type 2 diabetes have no symptoms at all. They may find out if they have a diabetes-related health problem such as blurry vision or a heart attack.

Diagnosing diabetes

Anyone with symptoms of diabetes should see their healthcare provider for proper diagnosis. Using a home blood glucose meter or going to a health fair for a blood glucose check is not a valid way to diagnose this condition.

Your health-care provider will likely one of the following blood tests to help diagnose diabetes:

Fasting plasma glucose (FPG): This test is a blood test that measures the amount of glucose in your blood after fasting (not eating or drinking, other than water) for at least 8 hours. For this reason, it’s easiest for most people to have this test done first thing in the morning. A FPG of 126 mg/dl or higher can indicate diabetes.

• Random plasma glucose (RPG): This test is a glucose test that is performed at any time. It’s more likely to be used if you have symptoms of diabetes. A RPG result of 200 mg/dl or higher can indicate diabetes.

A1C test (also called HbA1C or glycosylated hemoglobin): This is a blood test that measures your average blood glucose levels over the past three months. You can eat and drink before you have this test. An A1C result of 6.5% of higher can indicate diabetes.

These tests are usually repeated on a different day before a diabetes diagnosis is confirmed.

Sometimes, it’s not clear what type of diabetes a person has. In this instance, your healthcare provider may order blood tests for autoantibodies and/or c-peptide; he or she may also check your urine for the presence of ketones.

Originally Published March 25, 2019

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