How to test for diabetes at home
Reviewed by Dr Neel Patel
If you’re worried about your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a home test alongside support from a healthcare professional could help. Understanding your risk of developing diabetes can help you to make lifestyle changes and healthier choices to take control of your health.
In this article we’ll explore what home diabetes tests are available and how you can use them to test for diabetes.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a health condition that causes high blood sugar levels. These levels are normally controlled by the hormone insulin which is produced by the pancreas. When we eat, insulin takes the sugar (glucose) from our food into our cells, where it’s broken down into energy for our body to use.
If you have diabetes your body can’t break down the glucose into energy. The reason for this depends on the type of diabetes you have. Type 1 means your immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin and type 2 is where your body doesn’t have enough insulin.
Diabetes has been linked to other conditions like erectile dysfunction, heart disease and strokes.
Who’s at risk of developing type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is more common than type 1 and can develop due to an unhealthy lifestyle, although other factors can increase your risk.
Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes may be higher if you:
- Are overweight
- Have a family history of type 2
- Eat an unhealthy diet
- Are Asian, Black African or African Caribbean origin
- Have high blood pressure
- Had gestational diabetes when pregnant
Type 2 diabetes can be prevented and delayed in some people by lifestyle changes. These can include exercising regularly, losing weight and eating a healthy balanced diet.
Type 2 diabetes symptoms
Not everyone who has type 2 diabetes will experience all of the below symptoms. But if you do have symptoms these can include:
- Increased thirst
- Weeing more than normal especially at night
- Feel tired or fatigued
- Unintentional weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Slow wound healing
- Frequent infections such as thrush or UTIs
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms you should speak to your GP. You could also do an at-home diabetes test to identify your risk of developing or having the condition. If your results show an abnormal result your healthcare provider will let you know how these can be managed through medication or lifestyle changes.
Can I have diabetes and not know it?
Yes, many people have type 2 diabetes without knowing. This is because early symptoms can be overlooked as they’re quite general, for example feeling tired. Also some people may not have any symptoms.
This is why it’s important to have regular health check ups. You can also get a look into your health with at home blood tests, as well as advice from your GP.
What is a home diabetes test?
A diabetes blood test done at home can tell you about your risk of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. The test kit or device allows users to measure their blood sugar levels in the comfort of their own home.
These tests are indicators of your risk status, they shouldn’t be used to diagnose yourself. A home diabetes test shouldn't replace advice or treatment from your GP or other healthcare providers.
How to test for type 2 diabetes at home
There are different types of home diabetes tests available. The one you choose to use depends on whether you already have diabetes or if you want to know your risk of developing the condition.
Blood glucose monitors
These devices require a small drop of blood taken from the finger using a lancet. The blood sample is then placed on a test strip, which is inserted into the monitor. The monitor quickly analyses the blood sample and provides a blood glucose reading on its display.
These are often used by people with diabetes to check their fasting and after meal blood sugar levels.
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems
CGM systems provide continuous real-time glucose monitoring. They’re a small sensor inserted under the skin which sends a blood glucose reading to an app. This allows the wearer to monitor their glucose levels throughout the day.
This blood test measures the average blood sugar levels over the past three months. This test can be done at home with a diabetes home test kit or as via your GP.
During an at home test a blood sample is taken from your finger using a lancet. The sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis and your results will be available in your dashboard.
Is there a way to test for diabetes without going to the doctor?
Although you can use a home diabetes test to indicate your risk of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. It's important to note that while home diabetes tests can provide valuable information about blood sugar levels, they should not replace regular medical check-ups or advice from healthcare professionals.