What is a Diabetes Risk Test?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A diabetes risk test is a quick screening to determine a person's risk of having or developing diabetes. A number of online self assessment tools are available for people concerned about their health, and such tests can also be administered in a doctor's office. This testing consists of a series of questions designed to identify risk factors. Additional screening, such as a blood glucose test and a full medical evaluation, may be recommended for people whose answers indicate they have a high diabetes risk.

People with a high risk for diabetes should undergo glucose blood testing.
People with a high risk for diabetes should undergo glucose blood testing.

In a diabetes risk test, people answer questions about common risk factors including age, gender, weight, height, family history, and racial background. Further questions determine the test-taker's activity level and may ask questions about diabetes symptoms to see if the patient is at risk of undiagnosed diabetes. A score is computed on the basis of how the person answers to assess diabetes risk.

Physicians recommend regular diabetes screenings for people over the age of 45.
Physicians recommend regular diabetes screenings for people over the age of 45.

People who appear to be at low risk for diabetes, according to the test, are generally advised to maintain good habits and receive regular medical checkups so that any medical issues can be identified early. People with moderate diabetes risk test results may be told to change diet and exercise habits, or to consider monitoring by their doctors if they cannot make lifestyle adjustments to lower diabetes risk. For high risk test scores, more medical evaluation may be needed to see if the patient is developing pre-diabetes or diabetes. The outcome of additional testing will determine what steps to take next.

A doctor may order a diabetes screening if the patient exhibits signs of diabetes or has high risk factors.
A doctor may order a diabetes screening if the patient exhibits signs of diabetes or has high risk factors.

Growing concern about diabetes in the early 21st century led a number of doctors to screen patients for diabetes risks during annual examinations, and diabetes risk test screenings were also used in schools to identify children who needed additional medical attention. Spotting people at risk of chronic and incurable conditions like diabetes early, before those conditions onset, can help prevent disease or provide people with early treatment, before a disease causes irreversible complications like organ or nerve damage.

Self-assessment with tools like a diabetes risk test can be very helpful for many patients, but it is important to be aware that such tests do not replace doctor's visits. People who are experiencing health problems should see a doctor for evaluation. Everybody is slightly different, and while such tests can identify broad statistical risks, they are not tailored to the individual and it is possible to miss risks or a diagnosis with a self assessment.

Regularly drinking sugary drinks can increase a person's risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
Regularly drinking sugary drinks can increase a person's risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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