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August 21, 2002

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Tennessee, USA:

The doctor did a finger prick test to check to see if I have diabetes, and it came out normal. Since then, I feel as though I am dehydrated, fatigued, and my lips are often dry. Should I seek further testing?

Answer:

If the test was only a few days ago, it is unlikely your symptoms have developed as a result of diabetes. If you were tested some time ago, then it may be worthwhile going back to your doctor and talking this over with them.

JS

[Editor’s comment: Testing for diabetes should include blood sugar levels performed by a medical laboratory. The timing of the sample (fasting, random, or postprandial) would influence how high a level is considered abnormal. See Classification and Diagnosis of Diabetes Guidelines. for further information.

Occasionally, lab blood sugar testing might be normal in an early case of diabetes, repeat blood sugar testing at the same or a different time, or performing a glucose tolerance test, might be appropriate if there is a high suspicion of diabetes despite normal initial testing. Another test, the glycosylated hemoglobin, might be used to help confirm a suspected diagnosis of diabetes, but the GHB (also called HbA1c or A1c) is not usually considered as appropriate to make an initial diagnosis. Antibody testing is occasionally done as a screening test in high-risk situations, or as confirmatory of type type 1A (autoimmune) diabetes, but is not part of routine testing.

Urine sugar tests or blood glucose testing using a meter, if done, might be positive, which would make the situation more urgent to get lab testing done to confirm the abnormal results. However, urine or blood glucose testing by a meter, if negative, would not exclude diabetes.

SS]