Now That Youre Checking Your Blood Glucose What Do The Numbers Mean
Depending on your diabetes treatment plan, your doctor or diabetes educator may advise you to check once a week, once a day or up to 10 times a day . But what does it mean when you see a 67, 101, or 350 on your meter? And what is a normal blood sugar, anyway? Great questions! After all, if you dont know what the numbers on your meter mean, its hard to know how youre doing.
The American Diabetes Association provides guidelines for blood glucose goals for people with diabetes, and the goals vary depending on when youre checking your glucose:
Fasting and before meals: 80130 mg/dl
Postprandial : Less than 180 mg/dl
By the way, these guidelines are for non-pregnant adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Children, adolescents and pregnant women may have different goals.
Your blood glucose goals may be different, however. If youre younger, have had diabetes for a shorter amount of time, or are not taking any medicine for your diabetes, your glucose goals might be a little tighter, or lower. Likewise, your blood glucose goals may be higher than what ADA recommends if youre older, have diabetes complications, or dont get symptoms when your blood glucose is low.
Bottom line: talk with your health care provider about the following:
When to check your blood glucose How often to check your blood glucose What your blood glucose goals are
When Things Go Awry
When we eat food, the pancreas goes to work, releasing enzymes that help to break down food and hormones that help the body handle the influx of glucose. One of these hormones is insulin, and it plays a key role in managing glucose levels in the blood.
And here is where things can go wrong. If the pancreas doesnt make enough insulin or stops making it altogether, in the case of type 1 diabetes glucose levels in the blood can rise too high. Another scenario is that the pancreas makes enough insulin but the cells have trouble using it properly, causing blood glucose levels to rise. This is called insulin resistance and is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes.
In the short term, high blood glucose levels can make you feel downright bad. Thirst, frequent trips to the bathroom, fatigue, and weight loss are all symptoms of high blood glucose . If not treated, more serious issues can occur, such as diabetic ketoacidosis . Chronic high blood glucose levels can lead to complications such as heart, kidney and eye disease, as well as nerve damage. So, its all about the blood glucose.
Why You Should Care About Your A1c
Multiple studies have shown that high average blood sugars increase the risk of diabetes-related complications. Lowering your A1c to the recommended range will reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications significantly:
- Eye disease risk is reduced by 76%
- Kidney disease risk is reduced by 50%
- Nerve disease risk is reduced by 60%
- Any cardiovascular disease event risk is reduced by 42%
- Nonfatal heart attack, stroke, or risk of death from cardiovascular causes is reduced by 57%
Achieving an A1c in the recommended range is, therefore, one of the most important things you can do to improve your long-term health when you live with diabetes.
However, the closer you get to the recommended A1c target, the less benefit you will get from lowering your A1c further. Taking your A1c from 12% to 11% makes a big difference while lowering your A1c from 7% to 6% provides a much smaller benefit. In fact, lowering your A1c too much may not be a good idea if it means that you increase how often you experience hypoglycemia .
I will explain why time-in-range is just as important as a low A1c later in this guide.
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Do I Need To Check If My Blood Sugar Level Is Normal
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, tracking your blood sugar regularly will help you understand how medication, food, and physical activity affect it. Checking your blood glucose level also gives you the chance to see when it’s rising and take action to correct it.
Others who may want to track their blood glucose regularly include people:
What Are The Symptoms Of High Blood Sugar
The symptoms of high blood sugar can vary depending on severity.
Early signs and symptoms of high blood sugar
When your blood sugar is around 200 mg/dL, but not yet dangerously high, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Increased thirst
- Shortness of breath
If you are experiencing any of the later-stage symptoms of high blood sugar, seek immediate medical attention.
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How Do Carbs Affect Blood Sugar
Carbs in food make your blood sugar levels go higher after you eat them than when you eat proteins or fats. You can still eat carbs if you have diabetes. The amount you can have and stay in your target blood sugar range depends on your age, weight, activity level, and other factors. Counting carbs in foods and drinks is an important tool for managing blood sugar levels. Make sure to talk to your health care team about the best carb goals for you.
What Is A Normal Blood Glucose Level For Someone With Diabetes
Diabetes mellitus , often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from the bodys inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism . There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.Continue reading > >
- Postprandial Blood Glucose Is a Stronger Predictor of Cardiovascular Events Than Fasting Blood Glucose in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Particularly in Women: Lessons from the San Luigi Gonzaga Diabetes Study
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What Is Considered Low Blood Sugar
For the average person with diabetes, low blood sugar means anything under 80 mg/dL .
Very low blood sugars are any readings under 40 mg/dL. Anything under 40 mg/dL is considered extremely dangerous and potentially fatal.
A person is at a significantly higher risk of falling into a diabetic coma if they cannot get their blood sugar above 40 mg/dL for several hours.
If a person is experiencing a severe low, and they are unable to chew food or swallow liquids, they will require an emergency shot of Glucagon .
Postprandial Blood Sugar Few Of Those With Diabetes Know Why It Is So Important
Blood sugar after a meal is referred to as postprandial blood sugar. So the opposite, namely before a meal, is called preprandial. The American Diabetes Association advises keeping your blood sugar levels before meals between 80130 mg/dl and your levels 12 hours after meals under 180.
Usually, blood sugar begins to rise 10-15 minutes after a meal and reaches its peak after an hour. However, it is important to note that these are just approximate guidelines as postprandial glucose depends on several factors, such as the type of food consumed.
Influence on HbA1c
Research has shown that postprandial blood sugar levels are significant for HbA1c. Even if glucose spikes after eating are only brief, they still have the potential to raise HbA1c over the course of the day. Most people with diabetes check their blood sugar before a meal but not afterwards or they leave it until the next mealtime. This can lead to glucose spikes being undetected and remaining high for a long period of time.
How to deal with high postprandial blood sugar levels
Be sure to check your levels at least 90 minutes after a meal. Why? By that time rapid acting analogue insulin has reached its maximum effect .
If its still too high then you should look into the causes such as:
what type of food did I eat?
did I correctly estimate my carbs?
is my insulin-to-carb ratio correct?
and is the injection-meal interval correct?
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What Is High Blood Sugar
A healthy human body thrives when blood sugar levels are generally between 70 to 130 mg/dL throughout the day. While everyone including non-diabetics will likely experience blood sugar levels above this range because of big meals, this is the general goal range.
With low blood sugars, theres one number for everyone that is considered low 70 mg/dL because dipping below this becomes dangerous for everyone. But high blood sugars are more complicated because being slightly above the goal ranges listed below doesnt equate to immediate danger and may actually be safer for some people based on other health conditions and their age.
According to the American Diabetes Asociation and the Mayo Clinic, optimal blood glucose levels are:
Blood sugar goals for a non-diabetic:
- Between 80 and 120 mg/dL for people age 59 and younger with no additional medical conditions
- Below 100 mg/dL when fasted
- Between 100 and 140 mg/dL for people age 60 and older if they have additional health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, etc.
Blood sugar goals for a person with type 1 or type 2 diabetes:
- Between 80 and 130 mg/dL fasted
- Less than 180 mg/dL within two hours after meals
High blood sugar levels become dangerous when:
- Youre high for a consistent period of time, even when you wake up in the morning
- Youre running above 180 mg/dL on a regular basis
- Youre running above 250 mg/dL on a regular basis very dangerous
How To Lower Your A1c
Now that you have a thorough understanding of A1c and time-in-range, as well as why looking at your A1c in isolation isnt optimal, the obvious question is:
How do you lower your A1c while improving or sustaining your time-in-range?
I will cover the four most important things you can do below but its always recommended that you start by having a conversation with your medical team before making changes to your diabetes management.
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How Many Women Get Gestational Diabetes
need to alter your therapy or way of life to maintain your blood sugar levels inside a healthy vary For generally healthy individuals who have not eaten for eight hours or more, Is 115 A Normal Blood Sugar After Eating a normal blood sugar level is between mg dL.
Your blood glucose levels are normally controlled by a What Is The Normal Blood Sugar Level hormone referred to as insulin, which converts glucose into vitality Is 115 A Normal Blood Sugar After Eating Diabetes happens when your pancreas can t produce insulin or when your body can t make use of the insulin because it s grown resistant to it These usually are not oral types of insulin they re sulfonylureas, chemically associated to the sulfonamide antibiotics.
Although there isn t a cure for diabetes, the situation can be managed by medication and or insulin, and by making wholesome life style decisions According to the NDR, 31,300 people started using insulin to treat their diabetes in 2018 In 2011 12, an estimated 55 of adults with recognized diabetes achieved the target stage for HbA1c based mostly on measured information from the 2011 12 Australian Health Survey.
Fasting Glucose Goal: 72
Why? Previously we discussed that the ADA considers normal fasting glucose as anything < 100 mg/dl. However, multiple research studies show that as fasting glucose increases, there is an increased risk of health problems like diabetes and heart disease even if it stays within the normal range. The highlights of some of the study results include:
- Men whose fasting blood glucose was greater than 85 mg/dl had a significantly higher mortality rate from cardiovascular diseases than men with blood sugars less than 85 mg/dl.
- People with fasting glucose levels in the high normal range had significantly increased cardiovascular disease risk than people whose levels remained below 80 mg/dl.
- Children with fasting glucose levels 86-99 mg/dl had more than double the risk of developing prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes as adults when compared with children whose levels were less than 86 mg/dl.
- People with fasting glucose levels between 91-99 mg/dl had a 3-fold increase in Type 2 diabetes risk compared to those with levels less than 83 mg/dl.
- Among young, healthy men, higher fasting plasma glucose levels within the normal range constitute an independent risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. This means that as fasting glucose increases, even if the level is still considered normal, it could indicate a significantly higher risk of developing diabetes, and this is particularly pronounced if BMI is greater than 30. .
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Normal Blood Sugar Ranges In Healthy Non
For a person without any type of diabetes, blood sugar levels are generally between 70 to 130 mg/dL depending on the time of day and the last time they ate a meal.
Newer theories about non-diabetic blood sugar levels have included post-meal blood sugar levels as high as 140 mg/dL.
Here are the normal blood sugar ranges for a person without diabetes according to the American Diabetes Association:
- Fasting blood sugar : Less than 100 mg/dL
- 1-2 hours after a meal: Less than 140 mg/dL
- 2-3 hours after eating: Less than 100 mg/dL
Normal Range For Blood Sugar Two Hours After Eating
Your blood glucose levels can determine whether you have or are at risk for developing diabetes, a condition in which your body no longer effectively processes and absorbs glucose from the bloodstream. Blood glucose levels fluctuate during the day, particularly after meals. Postprandial — which means after eating — glucose levels that rise beyond a certain level may mean you have diabetes or prediabetes. However, two-hour postprandial blood sugar testing is not recommended to screen for or diagnose diabetes.
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Prediabetes Flies Under The Radar
You can have prediabetes for years without symptoms. This means you likely wont know you have prediabetes until serious health problems show up. Talk to your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested if you have any of the risk factors for prediabetes, including:
- Being overweight
- Being 45 years or older
- Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
- Being physically active less than 3 times a week
- Ever having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
Race and ethnicity are also a factor. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk.
Ready to find out your risk? Take the 1-minute prediabetes risk test and be sure to share the results with your doctor.
Normal Vs Optimal Blood Sugar Ranges
Ive written extensively about the difference between normal and optimal blood markers here, and the same applies to your blood sugar ranges.
From the perspective of conventional medicine, a fasting blood sugar level of 100-125 mg/dL indicates prediabetes.
Two consecutive fasting glucose levels of 126 mg/dL indicates diabetes, as well as a random glucose reading of 200 mg/dL , and a 2-hour post-meal reading of 200 mg/dL .
But much of the data in conventional medicine comes from populations who are not enjoying optimal health.
So what does a healthy daily glucose response look like from the perspective of preventative medicine?
On waking: Research indicates that your optimal glucose after waking in the morning should be between 82-88 mg/dL . This level is associated with optimal aging, the lowest risk of chronic disease, and the lowest mortality risk.
After meals: Blood sugar peaks between 1 and 2 hours after the meal and should be back down to fasting levels by 3 hours post-meal. From the perspective of optimal health, you should avoid regularly eating foods that raise your blood sugar over 100 mg/dl .
One strategy to test the impact of your diet on your long-term health is to measure your blood sugar before and after meals.
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Why Does Blood Sugar Go Up In The Morning What Is The Dawn Phenomenon
There are a few main reasons why your glucose levels may be higher in the morning. One of these is known as the dawn phenomenon.
The dawn phenomenon occurs early in the morning between 3 am and 8 am while you are still asleep. As morning approaches, the body naturally signals your liver to produce glucose, giving your body the energy it needs for the start of the day. Caused by changes in hormonal levels, the dawn phenomenon happens to all people, with or without diabetes. However, for those without diabetes, insulin levels increase and they do not experience hyperglycemia.
Another reason you may experience higher morning glucose levels is because your injected insulin wears off. If your body has insufficient insulin during the night, your glucose levels may start to rise. To combat this, you may consider trying a new basal insulin, adjusting the timing and amount of your basal dose , or changing your nighttime basal rates .
The last reason you may experience higher morning glucose levels is known as the Somogyi effect. This occurs if your glucose levels fall too low during the night, caused by too much insulin or medication. To respond, your liver produces more glucose to try to maintain your glucose levels, which may result in hyperglycemia. The Somogyi effect is not as common as the other reasons described.