Diabetes is a chronic ailment which the patient must monitor regularly. It is vital to keep the blood glucose levels under control as uncontrolled diabetes can have dangerous complications. Mild diabetes can be controlled with diet and exercise while severe diabetes may need medication in the form of hypoglycemic drugs and insulin. Insurance companies and many corporations include a test for diabetes in their medical tests.
People with a family history of diabetes or those who are overweight and lead sedentary lives should undergo a test for diabetes once in six months. This can be done in a laboratory by checking the fasting blood glucose levels and glucose level two hours after a meal. The urine sample is also checked simultaneously. The presence of urine sugar or high blood sugar levels indicates diabetes.
A Glucose Tolerance Test is conducted on patients who have a family history of diabetes or have symptoms of the disease. It is useful in ruling out pre diabetes or a tendency to diabetes. A fasting blood sample is collected along with a urine sample. The patient is then given a drink of glucose (1 gram per kilogram of body weight) and his blood and urine samples are collected every hour for three hours. Abnormal blood sugar results indicate diabetes of varying degrees of severity. This can be determined from the glucose tolerance curve.
Once a person has been established as being diabetic, the blood glucose level should be checked every two months. Severe diabetics who are advised insulin injections may have to monitor their blood glucose frequently to determine the dosage. Sometimes young children develop juvenile diabetes which requires careful planning of diet and medication. Their blood sugar levels also need to be checked frequently as they are almost always treated with insulin.
At-home blood glucose testing devices called glucometers are useful for such patients. Several leading companies market these products which may vary in price and features. A single drop of blood from the finger is applied to a special strip and inserted into the device. Some devices can be used on alternate sites as well. The blood sugar level is displayed almost instantly. Certain models are available with voicemeters which make them very useful for the visually impaired. A glucometer is a handy device as it can be used in school, office or at home very conveniently.
Some diabetics pass sugar in the urine when the blood sugar levels are abnormal. Others may have a high renal threshold and not pass sugar unless the blood sugar levels are very high. Patients with normal or low renal threshold can conveniently keep a check on their diabetes by checking the urine for sugar with special testing strips. This may not be a very accurate way of testing diabetes but can be a less tedious way of keeping track.
A blood test which gives a good indication of the state of diabetes control in a patient is the Glycated Hemoglobin or Hb A1 C test. This test is performed in the laboratory and does not need any special preparation such as fasting. It gives the doctor a good idea of whether the patient's diabetes has been under control during the preceding two months.