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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Quality Health Care and You - Diabetes
Do I Have Diabetes?
I am worried that I am diabetic and don`t know it. I give blood about once every 3 months. I received a report in the mail from the Association of Independent Blood Centers that my last donation was abnormal. The report stated that I had a Hemoglobin A1c percentage of 5.8%. The report also stated that values over 5.7% might indicate diabetes. The only other symptoms that I can really determine are fatigue (about 3 months) and increased headaches. Should I be worried?
Hemoglobin A1c is a test that reflects average blood sugar level. Sugar molecules become attached to hemoglobin which is the major oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells in an amount that depends on the average blood glucose (sugar) concentration. Hemoglobin A1c can be elevated most commonly due to high blood glucose but there are other things that can cause mild elevations. The normal range for hemoglobin A1c varies from one lab to another - in most labs that I work with, 5.8% would be normal.
The proper interpretation is that this has opened the question of whether you have diabetes but does not provide a final answer. My suggestion would be that you contact your doctor and undergo some other tests which are the ones on which the diagnosis of diabetes is ordinarily based. I wouldn`t jump to the conclusion that you either do or do not have diabetes yet. You need some additional information to answer that. Feel free to write back if you have further questions.
Robert M Cohen, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati