*Please note: This slide show represents a visual interpretation and is not intended to provide, nor substitute as, medical and/or clinical advice.
Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder that causes sugar, in the form of glucose, to accumulate in the blood rather than being used as fuel by the cells in our body.
Diabetes is diagnosed through laboratory blood tests: the fasting blood glucose test, Hemoglobin A1c test, and the oral glucose tolerance test.
The fasting blood glucose test measures blood glucose in a person who has not eaten for at least 8 hours.
Diabetes is diagnosed when fasting blood glucose is 126 mg/dL or higher on two separate laboratory tests.
A second test measures hemoglobin A1c, which is an estimate of average blood glucose levels over the last three months.
Diabetes is diagnosed when an A1c is 6.5% or higher on two separate occasions.
Another test is the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). This test measures your blood glucose two hours after drinking a glucose liquid.
Diabetes is diagnosed when the glucose tolerance test level is 200 mg/dL or higher.
If one or more of these tests are positive, your doctor will repeat the test to confirm the diagnosis of diabetes.
If test results are close to the higher end of normal range, your chances of developing diabetes are increased and you may have pre-diabetes.
If diabetes is not diagnosed at an early stage or blood glucose levels are not kept in the normal range, multiple complications can occur.
Over time, high glucose levels can cause damage to small and large blood vessels.
Both higher and lower than normal blood glucose levels can affect the eyes. High blood glucose over the long term causes diabetic retinopathy, and severely low blood glucose causes bleeding inside the eye. Diabetes remains the leading cause of blindness in the United States.
Diabetic kidney disease (also known as diabetic nephropathy) is another serious complication that remains the leading cause of kidney failure requiring dialysis or kidney transplantation.
About one in three persons with diabetes have some degree of nerve damage (known as diabetic neuropathy) at the time of diagnosis. Most commonly, this causes loss of sensation in the hands and feet.
Damage to large blood vessels may cause heart attacks, strokes and blood flow problems that can lead to foot ulcers or even amputations.
Fortunately, diagnosing diabetes at an early stage and managing it well can help delay or prevent many of these complications.
Regular check-ups are important because at the early stages of diabetes or its complications a person may not have any symptoms.
For the person who has been diagnosed with diabetes, monitoring is very important. Blood glucose monitoring and periodic A1c testing can help you stay on track in controlling your diabetes.
Your doctor will also carry out other lab tests such as monitoring of blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as carry out a urine protein test to monitor kidney function.
Regular foot examinations and preventative care are important, especially if you have nerve damage in your feet.
Your eyes should also be examined regularly for retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts.
The pneumonia vaccine and annual influenza vaccines are recommended for most patients with type 2 diabetes.
In summary, type 2 diabetes is diagnosed through various blood tests. If not diagnosed early, or if inadequately controlled, diabetes can lead to damage of important organs that impact health and quality of life. Regular monitoring of diabetes, with your doctor can help prevent these complications or detect them at an early stage while they are still treatable.