Do do I have type 2 diabetes? Lab tests seem to say that I do. What do I need to know about lab tests for diabetes?
Understanding your diabetes means learning how to interpret the results of your lab tests. But what do all of these big words and numbers and percentages even mean? Did you feel as overwhelmed as I did when you first got a look at your results? Luckily, you don’t need to understand every detail that your doctor reports, but there are some basic things that are important for you to know.
Do I have type 2 diabetes?
First off, the measurement of your BG level was critical in the diagnosis of your disease. You can do your own BG test using your own BG meter at any time. It tells you what concentration of glucose is in your blood at the time the blood is drawn.
On the other hand, the Fasting BG Level is measured after 6 – 12 hours of no food or beverage besides water. You may want to ask your doctor what your Fasting BG was that prompted your type 2 diabetes diagnosis (as a baseline starting point).
Another BG test called the Random BG Level is measured under non-fasting conditions, sometimes as soon as 2 hours after starting your most recent meal. Generally, the Random BG reading is higher compared to a Fasting BG.
Another test that is often discussed is the A1c. This is sometimes called the glycohemoglobin or hemoglobin A1c test. This reading is based on the amount of glucose that is attached to the hemoglobin in your blood (averaged over the past 3 months). Everyone has glucose in the blood, and you need glucose to produce the energy that runs your body.
Hemoglobin, which is in your red blood cells, carries oxygen from your lungs to the tissues throughout your body. So, a certain amount of glucose produces energy which blood circulates around the body. Hemoglobin carries oxygen where your body needs it. Bringing (and keeping) your A1c level in the 4% to 6% range is a healthy target. The “glycohemoglobin A1c” test might sound intimidating, but really, it’s just a measurement of glucose in your red blood cells.
Other tests, such as cholesterol and lipid tests, are important for your “health dashboard,” but we can talk about those later. It will probably take some effort and time, but try not to let your readings and labs cause stress. They’re just numbers, and they’re numbers you can learn how to control and adjust.
Think of these tests like a glance at your speedometer when you’re driving on the highway. If you’re 12 mph over the speed limit, you need to “take a little corrective action” and take your foot off the gas. No big deal! You don’t need to stress out, because your actions can change your next reading. No speeding ticket for you, not if you’re paying attention and working hard with your dedicated team. The tests will clearly answer the question… do I have type 2 diabetes?
If you have been working hard over the past two weeks and your readings are still higher than you want them to be, then get with your care team and your doctor and make some adjustments to your plan. This can be frustrating, but with time, help, and effort you can change those readings.
Your body is like a race car coming in for a pit stop. The team will make a few adjustments, and the driver (that’s you) will head back out onto the track good to go. Once again, it’s no big deal. Everyone needs to take a pit stop every once in a while to check in and improve even more. Remember, progress and healthy steps are important and realistic. Perfection, though, is not realistic.
Although lab results may seem intimidating at first, you will learn how to understand them and make lifestyle changes accordingly with the help of your team.
Learning how to interpret your lab tests is an important step toward taking charge of your diabetes and your life.
*** Thanks to Gretchen Becker, a very talented author and thriving person with type 2 diabetes who wrote the book, The First Year: Type 2 Diabetes: An Essential Guide… I pulled some inspiration from her book as I wrote this post.
Please consider buying her book on Amazon at: