What a diabetes test can reveal about your health?

Diabetes affects approximately 1 in 20 Australians (1), and it often goes unnoticed until significant complications arise. Its silent progression highlights the vital role of diabetes testing for early detection and management. Here we aim to share how to test for diabetes so you can be prepared and understand what your results mean.  Please note that it is still essential to consult with your healthcare professional for diagnosis and management.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition characterised by the body’s inability to regulate blood sugar levels effectively. It’s classified into three main types: Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational Diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, often diagnosed in children and young adults, is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks insulin-producing cells. Type 2 diabetes, accounting for 87.6% of diabetes cases, involves insulin resistance and is often linked to lifestyle factors (1). Gestational Diabetes occurs during pregnancy and usually resolves after birth but increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later. While the prevalence of diabetes in Australia has declined by 43% since 2001, over 1.3 million Australians are still living with diagnosed diabetes (2). However, this figure does not account for the many undiagnosed cases, highlighting the ongoing need for  public awareness and thorough diabetes testing.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

Recognising early signs and symptoms of diabetes can lead to timely testing and intervention. Key symptoms include (3):

  • Excessive thirst and dry mouth
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing wounds or frequent infections
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Increased hunger, despite eating
  • Darkened skin in certain areas (acanthosis nigricans)
  • Dizziness and light-headedness 

Please note that these are general symptoms and should not be used to diagnose diabetes or substitute professional medical advice. If you do identify these symptoms or have a family history of diabetes, ask a qualified medical professional for a diabetes test to assist with early detection and a personalised management plan.

How to test for diabetes

There are 3 main diabetes tests which are frequently used by practitioners for diagnosis:

  1. Fasting Plasma Glucose Test: Measures blood glucose after fasting. An outcome over 7.0 mmol/L (126 mg/dL) on two tests indicates diabetes.
  2. A1C Test: This test provides an average blood glucose level over 2-3 months. An A1C level of 6.5% or higher on two tests suggests diabetes.
  3. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: Involves consuming a sugary drink and testing blood glucose levels over several hours. A reading above 11.1 mmol/L (200 mg/dL) after two hours indicates diabetes.

It’s important to note that while these tests can confirm if you have diabetes, they do not confirm if you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. To determine if you have Type 1 diabetes, doctors may look for the presence of certain autoantibodies (proteins in the immune system that mistakenly attack healthy tissues) (4).

How do I Prepare for a Diabetes Test?

Preparation for diabetes tests varies. For the FPG and OGTT, fasting overnight is usually required. It’s important to avoid certain medications that can affect blood sugar levels. Make sure to discuss your current medications with your healthcare provider before undergoing these tests. For the A1C test, there are no specific preparation requirements, but informing your doctor about conditions like pregnancy or anaemia is crucial as they can affect results (5).

Understanding Your Diabetes Test Results

Interpreting test results can be complex and should always be done with the help of a healthcare practitioner for accurate interpretation and advice on management strategies. The following reference ranges are commonly used for the diagnosis of prediabetes and diabetes (6):

Test Normal Range Pre-Diabetes Range Diabetes Range
Fasting Plasma Glucose 4.0 – 5.4 mmol/L (72-99 mg/dL) 5.5 – 6.9 mmol/L (100-125 mg/dL) ≥ 7.0 mmol/L (≥ 126 mg/dL)
A1C < 5.7% 5.7% – 6.4% ≥ 6.5%
OGTT 2 hours < 7.8 mmol/L (< 140 mg/dL) 7.8 – 11.0 mmol/L (140-199 mg/dL) ≥ 11.1 mmol/L (≥ 200 mg/dL)

I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes – What now?

Receiving a diabetes diagnosis can be daunting, but effective management is possible. Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels, adopting a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and, if necessary, medication, are key to managing diabetes. This should always be done with the assistance of a medical team, including a general practitioner and dietitian. To find out more about how you can receive a personalised diabetes plan and support, book a call to join Diabetes Wellness Australia today.


Diabetes testing is an important component of health management. Awareness of symptoms, coupled with regular testing, can help with early detection and management. Consulting a healthcare professional is recommended for personalised advice and testing, especially if symptoms are present or if there’s a family history of diabetes.

How we reviewed this article:
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Diabetes Wellness Australia utilises a variety of credible and reliable sources to support and provide valuable insights into the topic being discussed. From academic journals to government reports, each reference has been carefully selected to add depth and richness of our articles.

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