Glucose Tolerance Test: Fasting, Procedure, Results

If your diet has been mostly sweets, then you could be at risk for diabetes.

Glucose Tolerance Test

Due to busy schedules and hectic lifestyles, people rarely make home cooked meals. Rather than spend time creating healthy meals, some opt for fast food which can be too fatty, too salty, or too sweet. So, it’s no surprise that high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes are reigning health problems in the United States. If your diet consists mainly of sweet delights, then you might be at risk for diabetes. Luckily, there’s a glucose tolerance test to find out if you indeed have diabetes.

What Is a Glucose Tolerance Test?

A glucose tolerance test checks if the body’s cells can still absorb glucose efficiently even after you’ve consumed a set amount of sugar. Doctor’s use this test to diagnose if a person has diabetes, prediabetes, or gestational diabetes.

When Does One Get Tested?

If you are overweight or obese, then you should get a glucose tolerance test. Other conditions that require the test include the following:

  • Diabetes Runs in the Family
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Amount of Triglycerides in Blood
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

For pregnant women, doctors recommend this test as well since gestational diabetes can cause complications during pregnancy. Early detection and immediate treatment are vital. In cases where the mother had gestational diabetes in a past pregnancy or had delivered a baby more than 9 pounds in weight, then a glucose test is recommended.

Much like the glucose tolerance test, the oral glucose challenge test is done between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. It is a shorter version and also checks if an expectant mother has gestational diabetes.

Types of Tests

The type of glucose test depends on whether you’re being checked for gestational diabetes or diabetes.

  1. Testing for Diabetes with Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)

For testing blood for diabetes, a two-hour test is done with 75-gram of oral glucose. First, a healthcare provider will extract blood to check your fasting glucose level. Afterward, you’ll be asked to drink 8 ounces of a solution which has 75 grams of sugar. You’ll be asked to wait for two hours as the healthcare provider will once again extract blood at first- and second-hour marks.

  1. Testing for Gestational Diabetes

Two tests are involved here. The first test follows the same procedure as the OGTT. As for the second test, it involves two steps: (1) a one-hour screening, and (2) a three-hour GTT if the glucose levels in the one-hour screening are elevated.

Preparing for the Test

In preparation for the test, take note of the following.

  1. Fasting

Before the scheduled test, you’ll have to abstain from food and drinks for at least eight hours. Apart from water, avoid coffee, tea, or other beverages as these interfere with the test results.

  1. Prescription Medications

Consult with your physician regarding your prescription medications. Some medicines such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, corticosteroids, and diuretics may affect the test results.

  1. Come Prepared

The procedure may take a while, so it’s best to bring something to read.

Are There Risks Involved?

Both the tests for diabetes and gestational diabetes have no serious risks. However, it is highly recommended that you eat right after the test as you may feel dizzy or faint from the extraction and the fasting.

On the other hand, some people have difficulties tolerating the syrupy solution used in the test. Common side effects noted include the following:

  • A Headache
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Discomfort in Stomach
  • Low Blood Sugar (Happens Only in Rare Instances)
  • Nausea or Vomiting

As for the extraction site, since the barrier of the skin has been broken, there is a risk for infection. Closely observe the area for redness or swelling.

Interpreting the Results

Now that the test is over, what does the result mean? Normally, your glucose levels in the blood would rise after you consume the syrupy solution. With the help of insulin moving glucose into the cells, then the glucose levels should go back to normal. However, if your blood glucose levels take a while to return to normal, then it could mean that you have diabetes.

The measurement written on your results come in mg/dL which stands for milligrams per deciliter. Two hours after your test, your results are interpreted as follows:

  • Under 140 mg/dL: normal blood sugar
  • Between 140 and 199 mg/dL: prediabetes or compromised glucose tolerance
  • At 200 mg/dL or higher: diabetes

What’s Next?

If your blood sugar level is under 140 mg/dL, then that means it’s normal, and you have nothing to worry about. However, for those with sugar levels interpreted as having prediabetes, your attending physician will discuss methods to help lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is common in adulthood and happens when the body does not respond the way it should to insulin. Two ways to lower the risk of getting this type of diabetes is through weight loss and exercise.

As for those who have test results at more than 200 mg/dL, controlling your blood sugar is the next best solution. Medications, prescribed by your doctor, along with proper diet and regular exercise can help.

For expectant mothers, a blood sugar level of 140 mg/dL is considered abnormal. Doctors will usually prescribe medications if needed. Regular physical activity paired with healthy food can control gestational diabetes. Once the baby is born, your glucose levels should normalize. There is the risk of getting type 2 diabetes after pregnancy. So, to avoid a diagnosis of diabetes, you’ll have to stick to an exercise schedule and healthy diet.

Gestational diabetes that is left untreated can lead to the birth of a larger-sized baby. This may cause further complications such as difficulties during delivery, a premature delivery, or preeclampsia. Work with your doctor to come up with a plan that is tailor-fit to you and your baby’s needs.

Diabetes, along with hypertension and high cholesterol, are illnesses that can be fully avoided with a healthy lifestyle. Skip having to do a glucose tolerance test in the future by controlling what you eat and drink today. Keeping fit and being active even though you have a busy work schedule is bound to help you stay healthy.

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