Diabetes is a systemic and progressive disease that can affect every part of your body. There are several pathways from which it can manifest itself in your body. From high carbohydrate consumption to inflammation and weakened liver function, the onset of diabetes occurs due to multiple reasons. In this article, we tell you all about preventing diabetes by learning to interpret your blood tests.

The most critical part of managing diabetes is through getting routine tests and checkups done. In this article know about the most critical diabetes tests that will help you detect and prevent the onset of Diabetes:

1. Fasting Blood Sugar to Detect Glucose Levels

This is one of the most common test to check if you have diabetes or in the pre-diabetes stage. It detects the level of glucose in your body. A high glucose level is a sign of insulin resistance or diabetes. Likewise, a low glucose level is also problematic.

Normal Range: Typically fasting blood sugar more than a double digit number is considered pre-diabetes. A fasting blood sugar level between the range of 70mg/dl to 100mg/dl is normal and more than 125mg/dl means that you have diabetes.

2. Haemoglobin A1C to Detect Glucose Levels and Inflammation

HbA1c detects the average amount of glucose in the blood over a timeframe of 3 months and requires no fasting. It is also one of the top tests to determine whether an individual has inflammation. Haemoglobin A1C is formed in the body when glucose attaches itself with haemoglobin, the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body.

The higher the level of glucose, the more glycated haemoglobin is. The test is reported as a percentage and is used to monitor the glucose control of diabetics over time. Chronically elevated glucose levels means you will have a higher percentage of HbA1c.

Consequently, the elevated blood sugar tends to react with enzymes and proteins leading to the formation of Advanced Glycolytic End Products or AGEs. This in turn causes inflammation in the body and leads to further complications.

Normal Range – A HbA1c level below 5/7% is considered normal, a value between 5.7 and 6.4 indicates pre-diabetes and a level above 6.5 means you have diabetes and inflammation.

3. Fasting Plasma Insulin Test to Track Insulin Resistance

People often keep a close watch on their glucose number, but what about insulin levels? Even though this is not a typical sugar test your doctor might order, it can be of great help to know you insulin levels in the body.

Even before glucose levels goes higher, insulin goes high and it will be a sign that you are developing insulin resistance or prediabetes. It also helps to signify early-stage diabetes.

In addition to this, it also helps to know how much insulin your beta cells in the pancreas is producing. If you have low insulin and high glucose, it can be a sign of Latent autoimmune diabetes.

Low Insulin – Below 3 uIU/ml or 18 pmol/L

Normal Level –3 to 8 uIU/ml or 18 to 48 pmol/L

Pre-diabetes – 8 to 10 uIU/ml or 48 to 60 pmol/L

Diabetes – Greater than 12 uIU/ml or 72 pmol/L

4. High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein(hs-CRP) to Monitor Inflammation Levels in the body

Measuring CRP provides an indication about the inflammation status of the body that is a starting point for several chronic diseases including diabetes. CRP is the protein that is produced by liver in response to inflammation and an increase in CRP levels is a marker of systemic inflammation. It also helps to detect if you are at a greater risk for cardiovascular diseases.

Normal Range – The normal range is 0-3 mg/dl and the average risk range is 1-3 mg/dl. A value more than 3.0mg/dl means you are at a greater risk. It is ideal to have it less than 1mg/dl.

5. Liver Function Test to Determine Fatty Liver Disease

Majority of diabetic patient have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Both the diseases occur due to the same villain- insulin resistance. This condition is characterized by accumulation of triglycerides within the liver.

Because of the two-way link between diabetes and liver disease, tools and tests like the liver function tests are useful to determine if the liver is functioning optimally or not. In this test enzymes such as ALT (alanine aminotransferase), AST (aspartate aminotransferase), ALP (alkaline phosphatase), bilirubin, albumin are use to detect inflammation in liver.

Normal Range

  • ALT – above 25 IU/L (international units per liter) in females and 33 IU/L in males typically requires further testing and evaluation.
  • AST –  Up to 40 IU/L in adults and may be higher in infants and young children.
  • ALP – Typically up to 120 U/L in adults
  • Albumin – 3.5–5.0 grams per deciliter
  • Bilirubin – 0.1–1.2 milligrams per deciliter

6. Cortisol Test to measure Chronic Stress Levels

Another pathway through which diabetes can seep into the body is through stress. Chronic stress is bad for the body and leads to an increase in the stress hormone production called Cortisol. Cortisol is an important hormone that stimulates glucose levels in response to a stressful situation so that it can supply instant energy to the body. With chronic stress it creates a vicious cycle that eventually leads to insulin resistance and diabetes.

The best way to determine if you have high cortisol is through taking a cortisol blood or urine test. But at times it may not be the best indicator as it gives cortisol levels at one given point of time. Apart from this there is also the Adrenal Stress Index which is a salivary test and can serve as a reliable indication of cortisol levels.

Normal Range –  Blood Test taken at 8.am constitues of a normal range within 6 and 23 micrograms per deciliter. Many labs have different measuring techniques that can vary.

7. White Blood Cell (WBC) Count as a Market for Inflammation

A high white blood cell count is a potential marker of inflammation which in turn can lead to the onset of diabetes. A clinical trial was done in 2002 in a specific ethnic group of North America and it concluded that an elevated WBC count was a precursor for worsening of insulin secretion and development of type 2 diabetes.

Normal Range – This test is often done as a part of complete blood cell or CBC count. A typical WBC count can differ from person to person and what might constitute as normal for one individual can vary for another. So, it’s important for a physician to interpret those numbers. Here’s a reference range that most labs use:

  • Approximate Low Range < 4,000 white blood cells per mm3*
  • Approximate Normal Range 4,500-10,000 white blood cells per mm3
  • Approximate High Range > 11,000 white blood cells per mm3

8. Cardiovascular Tests

Tests like cholesterol, lipid profile, triglyceride levels, electrocardiogram and blood pressure are also important. This is because diabetes can lead to several cardiovascular ailments and put you an increased risk for heart problems. So, it’s important to monitor vitals in the cardiovascular segment as well.

9. Eye Exam

Furthermore, it’s also good to have your eyes thoroughly checked annually. This is especially for senior adults who are at a higher risk. Since high sugar can damage blood vessels in your eye, checking for early signs of glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy can help you preserve your vision.

10.Electrolytes Test to Evaluate Heart Health

Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Calcium, Magnesium and Bicarbonate are some important electrolytes that aid in passing signals throughout the body. A simple blood test can be taken to measure the levels of these electrolytes to check if they are present in the right balance. An imbalance can potentially cause complications including diabetes, heart failure, liver and kidney disease.

Normal Range

  • Sodium – 134 to 145 mEq/ml
  • Magnesium – 0.70 to 0.95 mmol/L
  • Potassium – 3.5 to 5.0  mmol/L
  • Calcium – 2.20 to 2.55 mmol/L

Conclusion – Peace of Mind

As Diabetes is becoming more commonplace, it is vital to monitor your total state of health frequently. Preventing diabetes by learning to interpret your blood tests can help you remain healthy and fit. Do let us if you found this article useful.

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