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Understanding Diabetes -- Diagnosis and Treatment

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How Do I Know If I Have Diabetes?

Your doctor may suspect you have diabetes if you have some risk factors for diabetes, or if you have high levels of blood sugar in your urine. Your blood sugar (also called blood glucose) levels may be high if your pancreas is producing little or no insulin (type 1 diabetes), or if the body is not responding normally to insulin (type 2 diabetes).

Getting diagnosed begins with one of three tests. in most cases, your doctor will want to repeat a test that is high in order to confirm the diagnosis:

Understanding Diabetes

  • A fasting glucose test is a test of your blood sugar levels taken in the morning before you have eaten. A level of 126 mg/dL or higher may mean that you have diabetes.
  • An oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) entails drinking a beverage containing glucose and then having your blood glucose levels checked every 30 to 60 minutes for up to 3 hours. If the glucose level is 200 mg/dL or higher at 2 hours, then you might have diabetes.
  • The A1c test is a simple blood test that shows your average blood sugar levels for the past 2-3 months. An A1c level of 6.5% or higher may mean you have diabetes.

Your doctor may also suggest a zinc transporter 8 autoantibody (ZnT8Ab) test. This blood test -- along with other information and test results -- can help determine if a person has type 1 diabetes instead of another type. The goal of having the ZnT8Ab test is a prompt and accurate diagnosis and that can lead to timely treatment.


What Are the Treatments for Diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious disease that you cannot treat on your own. Your doctor will help you make a diabetes treatment plan that is right for you -- and that you can understand. You may also need other health care professionals on your diabetes treatment team, including a foot doctor, nutritionist, eye doctor, and a diabetes specialist (called an endocrinologist).

Treatment for diabetes requires keeping close watch over your blood sugar levels (and keeping them at a goal set by your doctor) with a combination of medications, exercise, and diet. By paying close attention to what and when you eat, you can minimize or avoid the "seesaw effect" of rapidly changing blood sugar levels, which can require quick changes in medication dosages, especially insulin.

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