Can I Do A Fasting Blood Sugar Test At Home Instead
There are kits that allow you to test your blood sugar at home. But they should not be used to diagnose diabetes.
The results are often not as accurate as tests by a healthcare provider. Several factors can affect accuracy, such as:
- Environmental conditions.
- Unclean skin on the finger being pricked.
- Expired or damaged test strips.
- Not enough blood in the testing sample.
At-home blood testing kits are intended to help people who have already been diagnosed. They help people with diabetes manage the condition and understand what factors affect their blood sugar.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Fasting blood sugar is a simple, common blood test to diagnose prediabetes, diabetes or gestational diabetes. Before the test, you shouldnt have anything to eat or drink for 8 to 12 hours. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need a fasting blood glucose test.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/17/2021.
Risks Of Fasting And Diabetes
When you dont eat, your body will probably want food . You may also be sleepy and irritated. A headache is possible if you dont consume enough calories. And if you skip meals for more than a day or two, your body wont get enough of the nutrients it requires without supplements.
The most serious hazard of fasting for persons with diabetes is that their blood sugar concentrations may drop dangerously low. Thats especially true if you take insulin to manage your diabetes. When you dont eat, your blood sugar levels are lower, and your medications may worsen this condition, even more, resulting in hypoxia
When you break your fast by eating, youre more prone to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar levels. This is hyperglycemia. This happens only if you consume an excessive amount of carbohydrates. If fasting causes you to eat too much carbohydrate-rich food, it may not be the best strategy for you.
Structured Education And Diabetes Management During Ramadan
Standard demographic data were collected for all participants. A baseline assessment was performed on all participants within 1 month before Ramadan including HbA1C, weight, and body mass index assessment, current insulin regimen, hypoglycemic history, and diabetes-related complications. These assessments were repeated at the end of Ramadan and 1 month after Ramadan.
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Diabetes Control And Hypoglycemia
Total daily dose of insulin was 8.3% lower during Ramadan than before Ramadan and was accompanied by a small but significant rise in glucose by 0.5 mmol/L during Ramadan compared with before Ramadan . There was a non-significant drop in HBA1c after Ramadan compared to before Ramadan . CGM and Flash profiles showed a significant 4% increase in percentage time spent > 10 mmol/L with no significant difference for percentage time spent in the range of 410 mmol/L or time spent < 4.0 mmol/L . No DKA or hospital admission occurred during Ramadan.
Table 3. Summary of fasted days, insulin, and glucose data analysis from CGM or Flash for the periods before, during, and after Ramadan.
Figure 1. Percentage time spent > 10 mmol/L, between 4 and 10 mmol/L, and < 4 mmol/L for the periods before, during and after Ramadan in the whole cohort. Data represents mean ± SEM, *represent statistically significant differences .
None of the participants experienced severe hypoglycemia during the fasting period. The number of hypoglycemic episodes detected on glucose monitoring was significantly reduced during Ramadan compared with rates before Ramadan . Moreover, reduction in time spent < 3.0 mmol/L and time spent < 4.0 mmol/L as well as the area above the curve for time spent < 4.0 mmol/L were also observed but was only significant in the CSII + CGM group .
Figure 2. Rate of hypoglycaemia before, during, and after Ramadan. Data represents mean ± SEM, *represent statistically significant differences .
Drawbacks To Consider Before Starting Intermittent Fasting
Although IF/TRF may carry health benefits and is generally safe for people with diabetes, there are some drawbacks:
It is difficult to start a new eating routine! Transitioning from a round-the-clock eating schedule to one with planned feeding and fasting times can be stressful, and it might not align well with your daily life. For example, if you exercise in the morning or are an athlete, it might not be possible to participate on an empty stomach.
Any style of fasting will affect your blood glucose levels and insulin requirements. Especially when starting a fasting regimen, you will need to closely monitor these indicators to make sure that your glucose levels stay in range. If you have type 1 diabetes or are dependent on insulin, you should also test your ketone levels consistently to avoid the risk of ketoacidosis .
IF/TRF can have side-effects, such as shakiness, hypoglycemia, irritability, hunger, increased heart rate, sweating, chills, and dizziness.
Know that IF/TRF can lead to unhealthy eating habits, including disordered eating. If you are concerned that you or someone else with diabetes may be experiencing disordered eating, contact the Diabulimia Helpline or We Are Diabetes the National Eating Disorders Alliance is a resource for anyone with or without diabetes.
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Before You Try Fasting
Talk to your doctor first. If you have type 1 diabetes, other health problems due to diabetes, or have had hypoglycemia, your doctor may recommend you not fast.
If your doctor says itâs OK to try, ask if you need to check your blood sugar more often or adjust your diabetes medication during and after fasting.
Watch for signs of low blood sugar. If you start to feel shaky, sweaty, or confused, your blood sugar may be too low. Stop fasting right away and do what you normally would to treat hypoglycemia. For example, eat a glucose gel or have a sugary drink followed by a small, balanced meal when your blood sugar level is back to normal.
Be careful about what you eat after fasting. Eating too many carbohydrates after fasting can cause your blood sugar levels to become too high. Choose healthy, balanced meals and snacks.
Use caution. Donât do tough workouts while youâre fasting. Hard exercise can make your blood sugar levels dip, which can lead to hypoglycemia. Ask your doctor what activities are OK to do, or just take a break.
With Diabetes Must You Fast For Blood Tests
New research shows that up to 22 percent of people with diabetes who fasted for lab tests had a low blood sugar episode while waiting for the test. The researchers also found that only about one-third of those who had a low blood sugar episode had received any education about how to avoid it when they were told to fast for lab tests.
What’s more, fasting for lab tests is likely unnecessary, too, the researchers said.
“The commonest test for which millions of people fast is cholesterol. But for the most part, fasting isn’t necessary. Most doctors don’t know. But in Europe and Canada the guidelines already say you don’t need to fast,” explained the study’s lead author, Dr. Saleh Aldasouqi. He is chief of endocrinology at Michigan State University.
Low blood sugar can be very dangerous for people with diabetes if they’re not educated about how to look for it and treat it. The researchers said they found a case report from Thailand detailing a tragic incidence of low blood sugar in a woman who had fasted for her lab tests. Her heart stopped in the waiting room and she couldn’t be revived.
Tests showed her blood sugar level was at zero. Normal fasting levels are between 70 and 100 milligrams per deciliter of blood. Anything below 70 mg/dL is considered low, according to the American Diabetes Association.
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Does Intermittent Fasting Work
Intermittent fasting works for many people. Studies also show that even a marginal decline in total body weight of 5-7% may considerably reduce the risk of diabetes. It appears that even a one kg weight loss reduces the risk of T2D by as much as 16%.
However, researchers always recommend using a low-calorie diet instead of fasting, along with regular exercise. Thus, a low-calorie diet should be rich in micronutrients and other beneficial compounds like antioxidants and dietary fiber. Nonetheless, some find fasting as a better way for faster weight loss.
The new finding presented in the proceedings of EES shared the finding of their experiment in laboratory rats. These were rats who were made to switch to intermittent fasting, with no food given every other day. This resulted in increased central obesity in these rats and reduced mass of the pancreas. Additionally, such fasting also caused increased free radicals and organ damage in them.
Intermittent Fasting And Diabetes
Intermittent fasting protocol is very effective for diabetics. It is one of the safest methods to lose weight and also improve your blood sugar levels.
- It was first tested on obese patients, but it takes time before they can adapt to fasting like this as their body burns fat instead of glucose when fasting.
- When fasting, the body becomes more sensitive to insulin and therefore absorbs glucose better to reduce blood sugar levels.
- Fasting for diabetics is much easier than it seems because you can always eat your regular meals but postpone them on without having any problem with fasting.
- Intermittent fasting is very effective for diabetics and it has been tested on thousands of patients who have all seen positive results with their fasting, weight loss, and blood sugar levels.
- Fasting combined with diabetes monitoring can make life easier for diabetic people because they wont need to constantly monitor their glucose levels.
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Results From The Study
In Fungs study, three men attempted intermittent fasting to see the impact it had on their diabetes.
Two of the men fasted every second day for 24 hours. The third man fasted for three days in a week.
On days when the men fasted, they were allowed to drink low-calorie drinks such as water, tea, coffee, and broth. They were also permitted a low-calorie meal at night.
Fasting is literally the oldest dietary intervention known to mankind, having been used for thousands of years and having been part of human culture and religion for at least as long, Fung said.
The thing that surprised me most was how quickly patients got better, Fung added. Even after 25 years of diabetes, the maximum time it took to get off insulin was 18 days. All three patients improved their diabetes to the point that they no longer required insulin, and it only took from 5 to 18 days in this study, he said.
Imagine taking insulin for 10 years, and all that time, somebody could have treated you with intermittent fasting, and you would not have needed to inject yourself daily for the last decade, Fung said.
Fung concedes his study is small and more research is needed.
Tips & Tricks For A Healthy Fasting Experience
Dr. Ratner said, The health benefits of IF and TRF are due to calorie reduction. If people overcompensate when they are eating, the impact is lost. If you decide you want to pursue some sort of intermittent fasting plan, heres what you should keep in mind:
Intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding are two ways people reduce calorie consumption over time as an alternative to traditional dieting. While research on these forms of fasting is limited in populations with diabetes, some evidence suggests that IF and TRF may offer people with diabetes or prediabetes a means to lose weight, stabilize blood sugar levels, and increase sensitivity to insulin.
While IF and TRF appear safe for people with diabetes, fasting can increase the risk of hypoglycemic events, especially in individuals taking medicine to lower blood sugar levels. Everyone’s body is different, so before trying IF or TRF, consult your healthcare professional to help determine if this plan would be safe and helpful for your health and wellbeing.
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When Does A Person Need To Have Their Blood Glucose Measured With This Test
Prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes often have no symptoms at first. A person can have the condition and not know it. Healthcare providers usually order a fasting blood sugar test:
- As part of a standard annual physical examination to monitor a persons blood glucose over time.
- For pregnant women to ensure that pregnancy hormones are not causing diabetes.
- When a person has symptoms of diabetes, a family history of diabetes or risk factors for diabetes .
- When a person has had a previous blood glucose level that was higher than normal.
What Can I Expect On The Day Of The Test
A fasting blood glucose test is often done with a common blood draw. A healthcare provider will:
- Clean the area inside your elbow to kill any germs.
- Tie a band around your upper arm, which will help the veins in your arm fill with blood.
- Insert a clean needle into a vein .
- Draw blood into a vial thats attached to the needle and labeled with your personal information.
- Remove the band and then the needle.
- Put pressure on the needle insertion site to stop the bleeding.
- Place a bandage on the area.
After the test, the healthcare provider will send the blood sample to a lab for testing.
In some cases, your healthcare provider may be able to test your blood sugar with a prick on the finger instead of a needle in the vein. The provider uses a blood glucose monitor and test strip to measure your blood glucose level in the office.
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Is Fasting Safe For Diabetics
Fasting is safe for diabetics. But it has to be done under observation. Tell your doctor beforehand, so they can reduce the insulin dose during fasting. If fasting is done with proper guidance, it can help in reversing diabetes as well. However, it should be done with great care. Because if you are taking medicine then not eating for a long can cause some problems.
Is Intermittent Fasting Safe For Diabetes
Intermittent fasting may present some risks for people with diabetes.
If you use insulin or medications and suddenly eat much less than normal, blood sugar can drop too low. This is called hypoglycemia.
According to the American Diabetes Association , hypoglycemia can lead to symptoms such as:
- high blood pressure
Before starting any diet or weight loss plan, consider meeting with a member of your diabetes care team, such as a physician or dietitian, to make sure its safe for you.
Some early research on animals shows that intermittent fasting may impact the pancreas and insulin resistance, but more studies are needed to determine its impact on diabetes in humans.
A 2020 study looked at what happened to rats when they fasted every other day for 12 weeks. It found that the rats had an increase in belly fat, damage to pancreas cells that release insulin, and signs of insulin resistance.
Its important to note that the findings may be different if humans took part in the same experiment. More research is needed to determine whether intermittent fasting can increase the risk of diabetes in people.
It may be possible for intermittent fasting to put diabetes into remission for some people, perhaps due to weight loss.
A 2018 case report evaluated three people with type 2 diabetes who used insulin and fasted at least three times a week. Within a month, they no longer needed to use insulin.
Other weight loss strategies may also help reverse diabetes, however.
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The Risks Of Fasting With Diabetes
As well as not eating food , fasting is also usually a time of prayer, reflection and purification. If you treat your diabetes with certain medications such as insulin, there is also the danger of the blood sugar levels after fasting becoming too low. This can lead to a hypo, or having your blood sugar levels too high which can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis , which would require hospital treatment. The symptoms of DKA include feeling very thirsty and passing a lot of urine.
If someone is fasting and does not take in fluids to reduce their thirst, this will accelerate dehydration and they will require urgent admission to hospital.
If you’re worried about fasting with diabetes, check with your GP or diabetes team, particularly if you’re not sure what to do with your diabetes treatment during fasting. If you can’t get hold of them, it’s best not to fast. And if you require urgent medical help you can use the NHS 111 online service.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work
Carbohydratesespecially simple carbs like sugars and low-fiber grainsquickly break down into sugar. If your cells don’t use all this sugar as energy, it gets stored as fat. Insulin is needed to get glucose/sugar into fat cells.
Between meals and during fasting periods, insulin levels drop, and fat cells release free fatty acid and glycerol, which then the fat is burned off, causing weight loss.
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Is It Safe To Fast With Diabetes Can Diabetics Do Intermittent Fasting
If you have diabetes and are thinking of trying intermittent fasting, speak with your health care team. Hypoglycemia , hyperglycemia , dehydration, and diabetic ketoacidosis are among the potential complications. The Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists has published four risk categories of fasting for people who have diabetes .
change the time, duration and/or intensity of my physical activity routine? Medication: Do I need to change the dose and timing of my diabetes medications? Diet: How many calories should I eat during the fasting period? How much fluid should I drink? Risk reduction: When should I stop the fast?