It's important for diabetes to be diagnosed early so treatment can be started as soon as possible.

If you experience the symptoms of diabetes, visit your GP as soon as possible. They'll ask about your symptoms and may request blood and urine tests.

Your urine sample will be tested for glucose. Urine doesn't normally contain glucose, but glucose can pass from the kidneys into your urine if you have diabetes.

If your urine contains glucose, a specialised blood test known as glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) can be used to determine whether you have diabetes.

Glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) test

The glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) test can be used to diagnose diabetes. It can also be used to show how well diabetes is being controlled.

The HbA1c test gives your average blood glucose level over the previous two to three months. The results can indicate whether the measures you're taking to control your diabetes are working, by meeting agreed personal targets.

If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, it's recommended that you have your HbA1c measured at least twice a year. However, you may need to have your HbA1c measured more frequently if:

  • you've recently been diagnosed with diabetes
  • your blood glucose remains too high
  • your treatment plan has been changed

The HbA1c test can be carried out at any time of day and doesn't require any special preparation, such as fasting. However, it's less reliable in certain situations, such as during pregnancy.

The advantages associated with the HbA1c test make it the preferred method of assessing how well blood glucose levels are being controlled in a person with diabetes.

HbA1c is also increasingly being used as a diagnostic test for type 2 diabetes, and as a screening test for people at high risk of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes in children

The majority of children who develop diabetes will have type 1 diabetes.

You'll need to manage your child's condition as part of your daily life, but you'll be introduced to a specialist diabetes care team who can help you to come to terms with any challenges.

Read about diabetes and your child.




Page last reviewed: 05/09/2016

Next review due: 05/09/2018