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Criteria for Diagnosing Diabetes

Topic Overview

To be diagnosed with diabetes, you must meet one of the following criteria:footnote 1

  • Have symptoms of diabetes (increased thirst, increased urination, and unexplained weight loss) and a blood sugar level equal to or greater than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). The blood sugar test is done at any time, without regard for when you last ate (random plasma glucose test or random blood sugar test).
  • Have a fasting blood sugar level that is equal to or greater than 126 mg/dL. A fasting blood sugar test (fasting plasma glucose) is done after not eating or drinking anything but water for 8 hours.
  • Have a 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) result that is equal to or greater than 200 mg/dL. An OGTT is most commonly done to check for diabetes that occurs with pregnancy (gestational diabetes).
  • Have a hemoglobin A1c that is 6.5% or higher. This test is most reliable for adults. Some experts recommend using one of the other tests to diagnose diabetes in children.footnote 2 This test may not be appropriate for everyone because many things can affect the life span of red blood cells, such as the second or third trimester of pregnancy, a recent blood loss or a blood transfusion, sickle cell disease, hemodialysis, or erythropoietin (ESA) medicine.

Your doctor may repeat the test to confirm the diagnosis of diabetes.

If the results of your fasting blood sugar test are between 100 mg/dL and 125 mg/dL, your OGTT result is between 140 to 199 mg/dL (2 hours after the beginning of the test), or your hemoglobin A1c is 5.7% to 6.4%, you have prediabetes. This means that your blood sugar is above normal but not high enough to be diabetes. Discuss with your doctor how often you need to be tested.footnote 1

References

Citations

  1. American Diabetes Association (2014). Diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Care, 37(Suppl 1): S81-S90. DOI: 10.2337/dc14-S081. Accessed April 27, 2017.
  2. American Diabetes Association (2018). Standards of medical care in diabetes-2018. Diabetes Care, 41(Suppl 1): S1-S159. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/41/Supplement_1. Accessed December 8, 2017.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerMatthew I. Kim, MD - Endocrinology
David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology

Current as ofFebruary 26, 2018


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