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According to the National Diabetes Statistics 2011, 8.3% of the population in the United States suffers from diabetes. Not only this, there are almost 7 million people who are living with undiagnosed diabetes. The increase in the number of people suffering with diabetes has made this condition to be the seventh leading reason behind deaths in the United States of America. Not only death, diabetes can also lead to many chronic ailments in a person like heart failure, kidney problems, blindness, stroke, etc. Because the condition is associated with so many risks and health hazards, it becomes extremely important to diagnose it at an early stage itself.

Understanding Diabetes Mellitus and its Symptoms

Diabetes is a chronic condition wherein the person suffers from abnormally high blood sugar levels in the body, because the pancreas fail to produce enough insulin, or because the cells of the body are unable to respond to the insulin present in the body. There are 3 main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a condition wherein the pancreas fail to produce enough insulin and therefore the patient needs to inject insulin manually. The other type of diabetes is Type 2 diabetes wherein the cells of the body do not respond to the insulin in the body. People take medications for type 2 diabetes instead of injecting insulin. The third type of diabetes is Gestational diabetes which occurs for the first time in pregnant women during pregnancy, which can later take form of type 2 diabetes. There is also a condition known as prediabetes wherein the person has high blood sugar levels than normal but not as high in case of diabetes. If a person is suffering from prediabetes, then changes in lifestyle can cure the condition, otherwise the person has chances to suffer from diabetes in the next 10 years.

Symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus: People suffering from diabetes mellitus are likely to experience the following symptoms and signs.
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Frequent urination
  • Frequent thirst
  • Increase in appetite
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Blurry eyesight
  • Nausea
Diabetes Mellitus: Diagnosis and Tests

Just understanding the symptoms is not enough as these symptoms can also be associated with several other health conditions. There are various exams and tests to diagnose diabetes mellitus that can actually confirm the presence of the ailment. These tests are the answer when it comes to diagnosing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) Test
The FPG test is one of the most preferred ways to diagnose diabetes mellitus as it is cheap, reliable and also very easy to perform. As the name suggests, you have to perform this test after fasting for at least 8 hours. Taking this test right in the morning before eating breakfast is the best. You can either do it at home or get it done in a doctor's laboratory. If your FPG test values are less than 100 milligrams per deciliter, then you don't have diabetes. If it ranges between 100-125 mg/dL, this means that you are suffering from pre diabetes, and if the values are more than 126 mg/dL, then you have diabetes mellitus.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)
Another very effective test that can help diagnose diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes, is the OGTT. In this test too, the person needs to fast for at least 8 hours and then a solution containing 75 grams of glucose and water is given to the person to drink. The OGTT is conducted after 2 hours of drinking the liquid. If the results are less than 139 mg/dL, they are normal. On the other hand, if the values are within the range of 140-199 mg/dL, the person is considered to be a pre diabetic, and if the value is more than 200 mg/dL, then the test confirms that the person is suffering from diabetes.

In case of gestational diabetes, the test is conducted 4 times within the span of 4 hours. The woman is asked to fast for 8 hours and then a liquid containing 100 grams of glucose and water is given to her to drink. One sample is collected while fasting, and the rest 3 samples are taken at a gap of 1 hour each. The following results indicate gestational diabetes.
  • Sample#1: Fasting - 95mg/dL or More
  • Sample#2: After 1 Hour - 180 mg/dL or More
  • Sample#3: After 2 Hours - 155 mg/dL or More
  • Sample#4: After 3 hours - 140 mg/dL or More
Random Plasma Glucose Test
A random plasma glucose test is done without considering the fasting period of the person. It can be taken anytime during the day. The results of this test are combined with the results of the aforementioned tests and examinations. However, if the values are more than 200 mg/dL, then the person is said to be suffering from diabetes.

Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) Test
This test has been recommended by the American Diabetes Association to diagnose diabetes mellitus. A blood sample is collected from the person to check if they have glycated hemoglobin. The excessive sugar present in the body tends to stick on the surface of the hemoglobin and this test can therefore easily diagnose diabetes. The values are expressed in percentages. The values less than 5.7% are considered to be normal. If it is between 5.7%-6.4%, then it is a condition of prediabetes, and if the values are more than 6.5%, then it means that the person is suffering from diabetes.

So, these are some of the most recommended and reliable ways when it comes to diagnosing diabetes mellitus. It is only when the condition is diagnosed that one can understand the pathophysiology of diabetes mellitus which can help you deal with the condition. Therefore, if you are under the risk of diabetes, have the family history of the same, are overweight or can identify yourself with the symptoms of diabetes, then get yourself checked with your healthcare specialist as soon as possible. Remember early diagnosis means a chance to minimize the complications. Take care.