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What is Glucose Screening?

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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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A glucose screening is used to measure the amount of glucose, or blood sugar, in the body. In most cases, a screening test is not a tool that offers a definitive diagnosis of a problem. If a glucose screening test indicates that blood sugar levels are elevated, a doctor can perform further testing to more accurately diagnose the cause.

Typically, during the process of food digestion, a type of sugar known as glucose is produced. The body uses glucose as a source of fuel and it is usually stored in the cells of the liver, fat, and muscles. To control and distribute the amount of glucose in the blood stream, the pancreas produces a hormone known as insulin. When levels of glucose in the blood are consistently high, a person may be diagnosed with diabetes.

When a patient presents symptoms or risk factors for diabetes, a glucose screening will commonly be done. A screening test will generally include a blood test to measure the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. This test may be done in a variety of ways. The patient may be asked to do a fasting blood sugar test, in which no food will be consumed for a set amount of time prior to the test. Another type of glucose screening is a random glucose test which may be done at any time, regardless of food consumption.

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Some individuals may develop prediabetes, which means there are signs that diabetes may develop in the near future. Typically, an individual with prediabetes has a higher than normal blood glucose level, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. The doctor will typically find the increase of blood glucose after the patient has undergone a glucose screening. In addition to a blood glucose test, a urine glucose analysis may be done to measure the amount of glucose in the urine.

Individuals with diabetes may be diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when there is no insulin or too little produced by the pancreas. In individuals with type 2 diabetes, the cells have become resistant to the insulin that is produced, causing glucose to build up in the bloodstream. This is the most common type of diabetes.

A glycated hemoglobin test or a hemoglobin A1c test is a glucose screening test used to measure how well diabetes is being controlled over time. This blood sugar screening will typically provide an average measurement of glucose levels over the course of several weeks or months. In individuals with diabetes, this test will indicate if additional measures may be needed to manage the condition.

Pregnant women may also be diagnosed with a type of diabetes lasting only during the months of pregnancy, known as gestational diabetes. An oral glucose tolerance test may be used to make this diagnosis. After fasting for a set amount of time, the woman will be given glucose to be consumed. Blood will typically be drawn several times over the course of several hours during this glucose screening test.

Diabetics will have to continuously have blood sugar levels checked to ensure their blood glucose levels remain within a normal range. Most diabetes have a mechanism to conduct glucose screenings at home. An individual suspected of having diabetes should consult with a physician at once. Diabetes can be life threatening if not properly treated. A healthcare professional can decide the best diabetes screening test and advise on the most appropriate form of treatment if diabetes is diagnosed.

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