April 13, 2024
Discover the common symptoms of diabetes, various blood sugar tests to assess if you are at risk for diabetes, and how family history, age, and gender, can also influence diabetes risk. Learn about diabetes and its impact on the body and seek professional help when you suspect early symptoms.

How to Tell If You Have Diabetes: Symptoms, Tests, and Risk Factors

Diabetes is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 34 million Americans have diabetes, and more than 88 million people have prediabetes. Detecting diabetes early and taking action is crucial for minimizing complications. This article highlights the symptoms, tests, and risk factors associated with diabetes and aims to help individuals identify if they might have the disease.

Symptoms Checklist

Diabetes symptoms vary from person to person, but the following are common signs to watch out for:

  • Excessive thirst: Feeling chronically thirsty, even after drinking fluids.
  • Frequent urination: Having to use the restroom frequently, including waking up during the night to urinate.
  • Fatigue: Feeling tired even after a full night’s sleep or after minimal physical activity.
  • Blurred vision: Experiencing blurred vision, particularly after consuming sugary foods or drinks.
  • Increased hunger: Feeling hungry all the time, even after eating regular meals.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is essential to seek medical advice. Ignoring the symptoms can cause complications such as kidney or nerve damage, and even blindness. Early detection and management of diabetes can help reduce its impact on daily life.

Blood Sugar Tests

Blood sugar testing is one way to help detect diabetes in its early stages. There are two main types of blood sugar tests:

  • Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPGT): Fasting means not eating or drinking (except water) for eight hours before the test. A healthcare professional will draw blood to measure blood glucose levels. Normal levels have a range between 70 and 99mg/dL. Prediabetes is between 100-125mg/dL, and diabetes is 126mg/dL or higher.
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): This test also requires fasting for eight hours before the test. A healthcare professional will draw blood to test blood glucose levels, followed by drinking a sugary solution. After two hours, they will draw more blood and test the glucose levels again. Normal levels for OGTT are below 140mg/dL. Prediabetes is between 140-199mg/dL, and diabetes is 200mg/dL or higher.

If your blood sugar levels show an abnormal value, it is essential to seek medical advice for further testing and diagnosis.

Family History

Having a family history of diabetes can increase an individual’s risk of developing the condition. Lifestyle factors, including diet and physical activity, can also correlate with the risk of diabetes. Family history is an essential indicator for individuals to monitor their blood glucose levels regularly.

If you have a family history of diabetes, consult with a doctor or healthcare professional to understand the possible risks and prevention measures. It is also crucial to make lifestyle changes like regular exercise and eating a balanced diet.

Age and Gender

Age and gender can also influence the risk factors for diabetes. According to the ADA, individuals aged 45 and over are at higher risk of developing diabetes. Women who have gestational diabetes while pregnant are also at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on.

If you are in any of these categories, it is essential to get screened for diabetes regularly to help detect it early.

Explaining Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when the body can’t produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is essential to help regulate blood sugar levels in the body fully. Having diabetes can lead to high blood sugar levels, causing complications such as kidney disease, nerve damage, or vascular problems.

There are two types of diabetes:

  1. Type 1 diabetes: This type is often diagnosed in children and young adults. It occurs when the body fails to produce insulin naturally, leading to high glucose levels in the bloodstream.
  2. Type 2 diabetes: This type is the most common and often occurs in adults. It occurs when the body fails to use insulin effectively, leading to high glucose levels in the bloodstream.

It is also crucial to understand the possible signs of early diabetes, such as unexplained weight loss, increased thirst, or increased urination.

Seek Professional Help

Detecting diabetes requires guidance from healthcare professionals. Routine diabetes screenings can help detect the condition early and lead to better management. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends screening every three years for individuals aged 45 or older or for individuals with other risk factors like obesity, family history, or high cholesterol.

If you suspect you have any early diabetes symptoms, take the first step and consult with a healthcare professional. Diabetes screenings are quick and straightforward, and early detection can potentially improve health outcomes and minimize complications.


Diabetes can have a severe impact on daily life, but early detection and management are crucial for minimizing complications. By understanding the symptoms, risk factors, and tests for diabetes, individuals can take the necessary measures to prevent or manage the condition. Remember to seek advice from a healthcare professional for any concerns.

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