According to the 2007 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 23.6 million Americans—7.8 percent of the population—have diabetes. In addition, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (2010), another 54 million have pre-diabetes.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body doesn’t produce or properly use insulin. This hampers the body’s ability to move glucose from the blood stream into the cells. When glucose levels get too high, medical complications can result.
Three types of diabetes exist:
- Gestational diabetes: Gestational diabetes can develop in pregnant women, increasing their risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Type 1 diabetes: In cases of type 1 diabetes—usually found through health screening in childhood—the body makes little or no insulin.
- Type 2 diabetes: The most common form, type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in adulthood. However, health screening is increasingly detecting diabetes in young people, which is likely a result of an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise.
Why is Diabetes Health Screening Important?
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (2010), diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2006. While not always fatal, type 2 diabetes can eventually cause a variety of complications:
- Heart disease and stroke
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Nervous system damage.
Diabetes symptoms can appear slowly and escape notice, particularly since they often seem unrelated. These symptoms include blurred vision, fatigue, as well as increased appetite, thirst and urination. Many people think that diabetes symptoms aren’t serious, so doctors recommend regular health screening for type 2 diabetes if you’re at risk.
Is Diabetes Screening Right for Me?
The American Diabetes Association (n.d.) recommends that adults over 45 undergo a glucose medical screening test for type 2 diabetes every three years. You might need more frequent health screening if you’re at a higher risk due to your age, health history and other risk factors, such as ethnicity or family history of the disease. People who are obese or have high cholesterol or blood pressure are at particularly elevated risk.
If you have any diabetes symptoms, schedule a medical screening test with your healthcare provider.
How Does Type 2 Diabetes Screening Work?
Perhaps the most difficult part of health screening for type 2 diabetes is the eight-hour fast before the medical screening test. After that, however, a simple blood draw is all that’s required.
Doctors evaluate the results of a glucose health screening according to these standards:
- Under 100 mg/Dl: Normal
- Between 100 and 125 mg/Dl: Abnormal; may indicate pre-diabetes
- Over 126 mg/Dl: Abnormal; may indicate diabetes.
After a Diabetes Medical Screening Test
If your medical screening test reveals pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, your doctor will discuss management options with you, which may involve diet, lifestyle changes or even medication.
American Diabetes Association. (n.d.). Type 2. Retrieved October 19, 2010, from http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-2/?utm_source=Homepage&utm_medium=ContentPage&utm_content=type2&utm_campaign=TDT
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2010). Diabetes screening. Retrieved October 19, 2010, from https://www.cms.gov/DiabetesScreening/
Life Line Screening. (n.d.). Glucose screening for Type 2 diabetes. Retrieved October 19, 2010, from http://www.lifelinescreening.com/health-screening-services/type-2-diabetes.aspx
New York Times. (2009). Diabetes. Retrieved October 19, 2010, from http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/diabetes/overview.html