How is Diabetes Diagnosed?

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  • Written By: Rachel Burkot
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 July 2019
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Diabetes is an illness causing a person’s body to not properly make or use insulin, the hormone that converts sugar, starch and other food into energy. This disease comes in two forms. With Type 1, the body produces no insulin or not enough. With Type 2, the body makes insulin, but it is not used well by the cells. In order for a person to be diagnosed with diabetes, a number of symptoms must be present, and a doctor must make the diagnosis.

Symptoms of Type 1 include frequent urination, weight loss, blurred vision, irritability, increased hunger and thirst, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms of Type 2 include drowsiness, sores and skin infections, increased thirst, weight gain and pain, cramping or numbness in the legs and feet. As the symptoms of Type 1 are more pronounced, it will be easier for the patient with this illness to recognize something is wrong and get Type 1 diabetes diagnosed. Type 2 is more difficult to discern, as the symptoms are more general and usually less severe. To get Type 2 diabetes diagnosed, the patient will often be checked for another problem, such as heart disease, nerve problems or kidney problems, before becoming aware that diabetes is present.


The tests that determine whether a patient suffers from diabetes include the Fasting Blood Glucose Level Test and the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test. The former requires the patient to fast overnight before determining the patient’s blood glucose level when there is no food in the body. If the blood glucose level is abnormally high, the doctor can make the diagnosis. The second test requires a ten-hour fast followed by a blood glucose level check, after which the patient is given a drink called glucola, which is high in sugar. Blood sugar levels are tested every half hour for three hours, and if the level is unnaturally high, a diagnosis can be made.

Being diagnosed with diabetes is not as simple as these tests, however. Doctors must also take into account factors such as the patient’s lifestyle and medical history, the effects and severity of the disease’s symptoms on the patient, the patient’s family medical history and a general physical examination of the patient. Doctors should also remember that other illnesses may cause high blood sugar or blood glucose levels, and thorough research should be performed on other potential illnesses. Additionally, a patient’s medication use may affect these levels in the body. Recently diagnosed diabetes patients should make immediate changes to their lifestyles and learn how to take insulin to replenish the lack in their bodies.



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