August 7, 1999
Diagnosis and Symptoms
Question from Tallahassee, Florida, USA:
How do doctors tell if someone has actual diabetes as opposed to transient hyperglycemia? What tests are performed? How routine is antibody testing?
It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between transient rises in glucose and true diabetes, as in children especially there may be a slight rise in blood glucose with stress (illness, infection, etc.). The most sensitive way of telling is probably by performing a glucose tolerance test, which gives a clue as to whether there is a lack of insulin. The glycosylated haemoglobin will also tell if the raised glucose is short or long-term.
Regarding testing for antibodies, we do not tend to check antibodies routinely in the UK as they do not add to the care of a person with diabetes. They are checked in research when you wish to look at risk of developing diabetes.