Types 1 and 2 diabetes can usually be identified by a simple blood test and if you have any concerns that you about symptoms of diabetes, you should consult your Doctor. In this post, we’ll discuss these symptoms and how to test for diabetes.

The Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

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Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that often begins in childhood. With type 1, your pancreas is not able to produce insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that your body naturally produces (usually), and it is needed to take in glucose to give your body the energy it needs.

If you are unable to produce insulin, it can be injected into your body regularly.

Type 2 diabetes is more common and usually develops in adults. However, teenagers and older children are now developing it as our childhood obesity rates also rise.

With type 2 diabetes, your body produces a minimal amount of insulin, so you may need to inject yourself with insulin or take medication.

The Difference Between Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia

  • Hyperglycemia occurs when you have too much sugar in your blood.
  • Hypoglycemia occurs when you have too little sugar in your blood. Both conditions can be dangerous if not treated promptly and properly.

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

Many people do not notice symptoms of Diabetes until they have had it for some time and the condition has developed further. In addition, although most symptoms are the same there can be subtle differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

The Most Common Symptoms of Diabetes

The following are symptoms that are likely to occur with both types of diabetes:

  • Increased urination - the average person urinates between four to seven times in a twenty-four-hour period. Increased urination occurs because when your blood sugar levels are high, your kidneys are unable to reabsorb glucose. That means you will need to urinate more, and you will also become thirstier. This will make you drink more, which in turn, will make you urinate more.
  • Increased fatigue and hunger – these occur because your body is not naturally making enough insulin. The food you eat gets converted into glucose for your cells to use as energy and your cells need insulin to be able to do this. The lack of glucose makes you feel tired and hungry
  • A dry mouth and itchy skin – Because of your increased urination, your body has less moisture available for other areas of the body. This can cause dry mouth and your skin may feel dry and itchy.
  • Blurred vision – Because of the constantly changing fluid levels in your body, the lenses in your eyes may swell up and you may lose focus.

Other Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

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Unplanned weight loss can be a symptom of many things including type 1 diabetes. Your body is not able to get enough energy from your food, and it will start burning fat and muscle instead. If you’re losing weight without trying to, it is important to understand why.

Nausea and vomiting can occur when your body has to burn fat for your energy. This process creates an acid called ketones. When ketones build up to dangerous levels, they can cause nausea and if not treated, can cause a life-threatening condition called Ketoacidosis.

Other Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

These symptoms of type 2 diabetes do not usually occur quickly but develop over time.

Yeast infections are common for both men and women and are caused by having too much glucose in your system.

Infections will grow in folds of skin where it is moist and warm. The most common sites are between the fingers or toes, in or around genitalia, or under the breasts in women.

High levels of blood sugar may, over time, reduce your blood flow and cause nerve damage. This can cause pain or numbness in your feet and legs. It may also mean that cuts and sores on your skin take longer to heal.

Who Should be Tested for Diabetes?

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Symptoms of both types of diabetes do not always present immediately but develop over time. This means that you may have diabetes while not recognizing any symptoms of the condition.

Before we get to how to test for diabetes, we should look at the factors that may contribute to someone developing this condition, but not necessarily recognizing any symptoms.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that all people over the age of 45 should be tested for diabetes. They also state that you should be tested earlier than that if you are overweight or obese.

You should consider getting tested for diabetes if there is a history of it in your family, if you were diagnosed with gestational diabetes, or if you delivered a baby over 9 pounds at birth.

If you have evidence of other factors such as high blood pressure (hypertension), high triglyceride and/or cholesterol levels, a family history or heart disease and an inactive lifestyle, you should also get tested.

The Different Types of Tests for Diabetes

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There are four different tests that are used to diagnose diabetes, and most can be performed by your general practitioner.

The A1c Test for Diabetes

This test is also known as the glycated hemoglobin test, and it measures the amount of glucose that has attached itself to the red blood cells in your body. Results from the previous two to three months will shop up with the A1c test.

The A1c test for diabetes is popular because it can be conducted at any time, and the patient does not need to fast beforehand. There is a minimal amount of blood needed to get results.

Pregnant women or people who have a special hemoglobin variant may make the A1c test results inaccurate. If this happens, your doctor may recommend one of the other forms of diabetes tests.

Random and Fasting Blood Sugar Tests

A random blood test for diabetes can also be conducted at any time, and fasting is not needed. If the test results show blood sugar levels that are equal to, or greater than, 200mgs per deciliter, a diagnosis of diabetes is usually given.

Fasting blood sugar tests are conducted after overnight fasting, so you will not have eaten for 8 to 12 hours beforehand. Two of these tests are usually done to ensure that the readings are accurate and not just a result due to specific factors that are present at the time.

If your blood sugar results show between 100mg and 125mg per deciliter, you will be diagnosed with prediabetes. A result of over 126mg per deciliter indicates diabetes.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test for Diabetes

This test takes two hours to conduct, and your blood sugar levels are tested twice. The first time is at the beginning of the test. After that, you will be given a sugary drink. Your blood sugar levels will be tested again, two hours after having the drink.

Blood sugar levels that are between 140mg and 199mg per deciliter usually indicate prediabetes, and results that are equal to or over 200mg indicate diabetes.

Urine Tests to Diagnose Diabetes

Urine tests are sometimes used to diagnose type 1 diabetes. The test discovers the amount of ketone bodies that are present in your urine. The presence of ketones may indicate that your body is using fat tissue rather than glucose to burn energy.

If your doctor suspects your body is not producing enough insulin, they may recommend a urine test.

How to Test for Diabetes During Pregnancy

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Gestational diabetes is usually discovered during routine blood tests between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy, unless it is suspected earlier.

Two types of testing are used to diagnose gestational diabetes.

A glucose challenge test may be conducted. This involves drinking a glucose syrup, and then having a blood test done one hour later. If this shows sugar levels of higher than 130mg to 140mg per deciliter, a follow-up test is required.

The glucose follow-up test has to be done after an overnight fast. Your blood sugar levels will be measured before you drink a high-sugar drink. After that, your levels will be tested every hour, for three hours.

The second test for diagnosing gestational diabetes is a glucose tolerance test similar to the one previously described here.

Ultimately, the decision of how to test for diabetes will be made between you and your medical team.


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