Can a simple blood test detect diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide, and this number is only on the rise. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the prevalence of diabetes has been increasing rapidly over the past few decades. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 11 adults has diabetes, and this number is expected to rise to 1 in 10 by 2040. (1) With almost 300 Australians developing diabetes each and every day, timely detection and management are key. (2) A simple blood test can detect diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is not just a single condition but a group of metabolic diseases characterised by high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. The two primary types of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2. However there is another type called gestational diabetes, affecting women during pregnancy. Each type has distinct causes and mechanisms but shares the common feature of impaired insulin regulation affecting blood glucose levels, causing them to rise.

What defines the types of Diabetes?

  • Type 1 Diabetes: An autoimmune condition where the body fails to produce insulin.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Characterised by insulin resistance, where the body doesn’t respond to insulin effectively.
  • Gestational Diabetes: Occurs during pregnancy and usually resolves after childbirth, but increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life
    Symptoms common to all types of diabetes include: Frequent urination, increased thirst, and unexplained weight loss to name a select few. However, symptoms might be mild or non-existent in the early stages.
  • Long-term health risks: Unmanaged diabetes can lead to serious health complications like cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, kidney failure, eye damage, loss of limbs and more. (1)

Monitoring and Checking for Diabetes

A simple blood test to detect diabetes is also known as a blood glucose test. It measures the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood. A blood glucose test is a simple and quick procedure that can be done at a doctor’s office, a clinic, or even at home using a glucometer. To perform the test, a healthcare provider will take a sample of your blood by pricking your finger with a small needle. The blood is then placed on a test strip and inserted into a glucometer, which measures the amount of glucose in your blood.

Other tests that may be used to detect diabetes or high levels of blood sugar are as follows:

  • Fasting Blood Sugar Test: Measures blood sugar after an overnight fast.
  • Random Blood Sugar Test: Checks blood sugar at any time of the day.
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: Measures blood sugar before and 1 hour, then 2 hours after consuming a sweet drink containing 75g of sugar.
  • Haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) Test: Provides an average blood sugar level over the past two to three months, offering a longer-term view of blood sugar control. (3)

Effective diabetes management hinges on regular monitoring and checking of blood glucose levels. This is crucial for both those diagnosed with diabetes and individuals at risk. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that adults without symptoms of diabetes should have their blood glucose levels tested every three years, starting at age 35. (4) However, if you have risk factors for diabetes, such as being overweight or having a family history of the disease, your doctor may recommend more frequent testing.

A blood glucose test can detect diabetes in several ways. If your blood glucose level is above a certain threshold, it may indicate that you have diabetes. Diabetes Australia defines the following blood glucose levels as indicators of diabetes:

  • A fasting blood glucose level of 7.0mmol/L or higher
  • A HbA1c blood test result at or above 6.5% (48 mmol/mol)
  • A random blood glucose level of 11.1mmol/L or higher (2)

If your blood glucose level is above one of these thresholds, your doctor may recommend additional testing to confirm the diagnosis of diabetes.

In addition to detecting diabetes, a blood glucose test can also help monitor blood glucose levels in people with diabetes. Home testing kits, have made monitoring diabetes for those living with the condition more accessible. They offer a convenient way to keep track of blood sugar levels and prevent complications, especially for those wondering ‘how can I test for diabetes at home.’


In conclusion, a simple blood test can detect diabetes by measuring the amount of glucose in your blood. This test is quick, easy, and can be done at a doctor’s office, a clinic, or even at home using a glucometer. While home testing kits provide valuable insights, professional medical advice remains crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective management. Regular blood glucose testing is important for people with diabetes to manage their disease and prevent complications. If you have risk factors for diabetes, talk to your doctor about when you should have your blood glucose levels tested. Remember to prioritise your health and get tested regularly to stay on top of any potential health issues.

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