Diabetes Alert Day


Every year on the fourth Tuesday in March, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) sponsors Diabetes Alert Day. Held this year on March 27, the campaign hopes to bring awareness to the prevalence of diabetes in the United States. On this day, the ADA urges people to take the free Type II Diabetes Risk Test to learn whether they’re at risk of developing the disease in the future or possibly already have it.

Questions on the Type II Diabetes Risk Test

The online assessment available at the ADA website takes about a minute to complete and asks the following questions:

  • Does your mother, father, or a sibling already have a diagnosis of Type II diabetes?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure?
  • Your age range
  • Your race or ethnicity
  • Whether you are physically active
  • Your gender
  • If female, whether you have ever had a diagnosis of gestational diabetes
  • Height and weight

After you hit submit, you will receive a score based on 10 possible points as well as information on whether you have a low, medium, or high risk of developing Type II diabetes if you don’t have it already.

Most Common Symptoms of Type II Diabetes

In addition to learning whether you’re at risk, the ADA recommends that everyone learn the symptoms of diabetes. When you recognize your own symptoms, you can schedule an appointment with a UPMC Western Maryland primary care provider for a timely diagnosis. If you do have diabetes, this enables you to start treatment and make lifestyle changes that can improve your outcome with the disease. When reading this list of symptoms, keep in mind that some people experience such mild symptoms that they never associate them with diabetes. This is one reason why regular screenings are so important.

  • Feeling the urge to urinate often
  • Pain, numbness, and/or tingling in the hands and/or feet
  • Excessive thirst
  • Constantly feeling hungry even though you eat regularly
  • Bruises and cuts that are slow to heal
  • Fatigue even though you get enough rest
  • Blurry vision

Diabetes comes with several potentially serious complications if left untreated. Please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment for screening if you think that you have it or could be at risk for developing it.

How Doctors Diagnose Type II Diabetes

Your doctor may use one of several tests to rule out or diagnose diabetes. He or she may also want to repeat a test or perform a second test on another day to confirm the findings of the first test. All types of diagnostic testing require you to provide a blood sample.

  • A1C: The A1C measures your average blood glucose over the past three months. You do not have to fast to complete this test. You have Type II diabetes if the reading comes back 6.5 or higher. A normal A1C reading is 5.7 or less while you’re considered pre-diabetic if your number falls between 5.8 and 6.4.
  • Fasting plasma glucose: This test measures your blood sugar after you have fasted for a minimum of eight hours. You cannot eat or drink anything before the test except for water. For this reason, most people schedule this test first thing in the morning. A fasting plasma glucose reading of 126 or higher indicates diabetes. Normal is 100 or less and pre-diabetes is between 101 and 125.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test: The OGTT test takes two hours to complete. Your doctor checks your blood sugar before the test and then again two hours after you consume a specially prepared sweet drink. A blood glucose reading above 200 indicates diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition that appears during pregnancy, often around the start of the sixth month. Doctors diagnose it using the oral glucose tolerance test described above. Approximately nine percent of women develop this condition during their pregnancy. If you test positive for gestational diabetes, you may need to take insulin until you deliver to ensure that you and your baby remain healthy.

Complications Associated with Type II Diabetes

Although diabetes increases your risk of serious health complications, managing it well can reduce the risk or even eliminate it altogether. This means following your doctor’s advice regarding diet and exercise as well as taking oral medication or insulin if prescribed. Foot and eye complications are probably the most well-known complications of this disease.

About half of all people with Type II diabetes develop neuropathy. Although this can cause pain, burning, and tingling in the hands and feet, it can also cause a total lack of feeling. This can be dangerous because you could injure yourself and not know it. Due to a problem with blood flow, neuropathy can also cause changes in the shape of your hands and/or feet. Wearing a pair of therapeutic shoes can help to decrease discomfort. Severe cases of neuropathy can lead to amputation. Approximately 86,000 people annually have a foot or toes removed.

People with Type II diabetes have a 40 percent higher chance of developing glaucoma. This is a serious eye disorder that can eventually cause blindness. They also have a 60 percent greater risk of cataracts, an eye condition that clouds the lens of the eye and blocks light.

Ketoacidosis is a serious complication of diabetes that can cause a person to pass out for a long period or even his or her death. It happens when the body has too many ketones present, which is a chemical the body produces to turn fat into energy. It is far more common in Type I diabetes, which is frequently diagnosed in childhood.

Other health conditions commonly associated with Type II diabetes include:

  • Gastroparesis
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Mental health disorders
  • Skin infections
  • Stroke

UPMC Western Maryland offers numerous resources to help you live well with diabetes. Please don’t hesitate to ask your primary care provider for help regarding diet, medication, lifestyle changes, or any other concern that you have.

Please note, the information provided throughout this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and video, on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. If you are experiencing relating symptoms, please visit your doctor or call 9-1-1 in an emergency.