What does undiagnosed diabetes look like?

In adults, the onset of type 1 diabetes can be more variable. They may not present with the classic symptoms seen in children and can experience temporary remission from the need for insulin. While the diagnosis is not always so straightforward, over time it becomes more clear.

An oral glucose tolerance test with 75 g of glucose can measure your glucose tolerance to a standard glucose load. This is a two-hour test where you will drink a sugary beverage and your blood sugar will be measured at the two-hour mark. You need to fast for this test.

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A fasting plasma glucose (FBG) or a fasting blood sugar (FBS) test is defined as a blood glucose test taken after you have not eaten for a minimum of eight hours. This is an easy and inexpensive way of measuring blood sugar.

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Glucose Challenge

Type 2 diabetes treatment will require lifestyle intervention, including dietary and exercise education. Oftentimes, weight loss is indicated, and a modest weight reduction, around 10% of original body weight, can help improve blood sugars.

Having undiagnosed diabetes means that your body is not metabolizing sugar properly, which leads to elevated levels of sugar in the blood.

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For children who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, some experience a “honeymoon” period when the pancreas is still able to produce enough insulin to reduce (or even eliminate) insulin needs. The length of time this lasts is variable; it can last a week, months, or possibly years.

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Type 2 Diabetes

Part of the reason that millions of Americans have undiagnosed diabetes is that the condition can often be silent for many years with no symptoms. But non-invasive screening methods can be used to assess risk, and more people can be tested based on their risk factors.

Cleveland Clinic: “Diabetes: Frequently Asked Questions” and “What Is Diabetes?” “Diabetes: Preventing Complications,” “Hyperglycemia (High Blood Sugar).”

Prediabetes (or impaired glucose tolerance), the precursor to type 2 diabetes, can take years to develop and be present without symptoms. If there are symptoms, they may be ignored or mistaken.

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Diabetes symptoms occur because some or all of the glucose stays in the blood, and isn’t being used as fuel for energy. The body tries to reduce blood glucose levels by flushing the excess glucose out of the body in the urine, making you more thirsty. High levels of glucose being passed in the urine are a perfect breeding ground for the fungal infection which causes thrush. But not everyone gets symptoms. In fact, 6 out of 10 people have no symptoms when they’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

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When to speak to a doctor

Some people are at a higher risk of developing diabetes than others.

The way type 2 diabetes will be treated will depend on the person. Individualized treatment plans should consider a person’s blood glucose at diagnosis, age, weight, lifestyle, culture, and other health conditions.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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