About Diabetes

Having diabetes impacts many aspects of a person’s life. Controlling diabetes most often includes lifestyle changes around diet and exercise. Lifestyle changes may be recommended in combination with medications.

Frequently Asked Questions About Diabetes

What puts me a risk?

Complete our Diabetes Risk Quiz to assess your risk for developing diabetes. Having the knowledge of your risk for being diagnosed with diabetes can help you make changes in your lifestyle now to prevent or delay onset of the disease.

Can it be prevented?

Medical research has shown that you can reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes by losing 5-10% of your present body weight and participating in regular exercise. For example, if you weigh 220 pounds and do not exercise, if you lose approximately 10-20 pounds and exercise 5 days a week for 30 minutes each day, your diabetes risk can lower by greater than 50%. For people with pre-diabetes, early initiation of these types of lifestyle changes can help return blood sugar levels towards the normal range and significantly reduce the risk for the development of type 2 diabetes.

What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?

If you have one or more of these diabetes signs of high blood sugar, see your doctor as soon as possible to determine if these symptoms could be due to diabetes. Click here for a list of questions that may be helpful to ask when you see your doctor.

  • Frequent Urination
  • Extreme Thirst
  • Extreme Hunger
  • Increased Fatigue or Lethargy
  • Unusual or Unexplainable Weight Loss
  • Blurry Vision
  • Cuts or Wounds that are Slow to Heal
  • Frequent Skin, Yeast or Bladder Infections
  • Tingling or Numbness in Hands and Feet

What is an A1c level?

A hemoglobin A1c test, commonly called an A1c level, measures your average blood sugar level over 2-3 months. The A1c blood test result is reported as a percentage that links to an estimated average glucose level. It measures the amount of glucose (sugar) stuck to a blood protein called hemoglobin that is part of red blood cells. The table* shows the conversion between A1c % level and estimated average blood glucose level.

A1c % Average Blood Sugar (mg/dl)
5% 97
6% 126
7% 154
8% 183
9% 212
10% 240
11% 269
12% 298

*Adapted from the American Diabetes Association Standards of Care in Diabetes, 2011.

An A1c test does not require fasting (no food or beverage intake for 8 hours) prior to testing and can be drawn at any time of day. Your doctor may recommend this test to determine your diabetes risk and may be able to complete it during a routine office visit. The following table provides the percentage A1c levels that indicate risk of diabetes.

Diabetes Risk A1c Level
Minimal to no risk Below 5.7%
Prediabetes 5.7% to 6.4%
Diabetes 6.5% and above
Once diagnosed with diabetes, the recommend goal for most people with diabetes is less 7% or less. Your goal may be different as determined by your doctor and may depend on your age, general health, or other factors. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, this test is recommended by the American Diabetes Association every 3-6 months.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) – what is it?

An oral glucose tolerance test (abbreviated by your doctor as OGTT) measures how quickly the body metabolizes blood glucose and clears it from the bloodstream. A glucose tolerance test can be used to diagnose diabetes and is done as a fasting test (no food or drink for at least 8 hours prior to test). It typically is done by fasting overnight, drawing a fasting blood sugar level, and then quickly drinking a sugary beverage that usually contains about 75 grams of carbohydrates. Blood tests are then drawn to measure blood glucose levels at 1 and 2 hours after drinking the beverage.

Test Time Normal Range
Fasting 60-100 mg/dl
1 Hour Less than 200 mg/dl
2 Hours Less than 140 mg/dl
A result a 2 hours greater than 200 mg/dl indicates diabetes. Typically a 2 hour result between 140-200mg/dl indicates possible pre-diabetes and increased risk for the development of diabetes.

What is fasting blood sugar?

A fasting blood glucose (commonly called fasting blood sugar) can be used to help diagnose diabetes. Usually after an overnight fast (nothing to eat or drink for 8-12 hours), a blood sample can be drawn to measure the amount of glucose in the blood. The result can help assess your diabetes risk.

Diabetes Risk Level Fasting Blood Glucose (Sugar) level
Non- diabetic Less than 100 mg/dl
Pre-diabetic Between 100-125 mg/dl
High Diabetes Risk 126 mg/dl or higher
Typically if your fasting blood glucose level is equal to or exceeds 126 mg/dl on two separate fasting tests, you likely will be diagnosed with diabetes.