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How Is Blood Sugar Measured

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What Are The Types Of Blood Glucose Tests

How to Measure Your Blood Sugar – Mayo Clinic Patient Education

Fasting Plasma Glucose Test

A plasma glucose test measures the amount of glucose in the liquid part of your blood called the blood plasma rather than the amount of glucose in your whole blood. In the United States, plasma or whole blood glucose are measured in milligrams per deciliter, or mg/dL. For the FPG test, you will need to fast for at least 8 hours before your test. A sample of your blood is taken at your healthcare providers office and analyzed in a lab.

The FPG test measures the amount of glucose that stays in the blood even after going without food for at least 8 hours. A high number is a signal that your body isnt making enough insulin to remove glucose from your blood stream.

HbA1c Test

This test can be done any time during the day and you do not need to fast. Like the FPG, a sample of blood is taken at your healthcare providers office an analyzed in a lab. An HbA1c test measures the percentage of glycosylated hemoglobin in your bloodstream. Heres what it means:

  • Hemoglobin is a protein in your red blood cells. It carries oxygen and is what makes your blood red.
  • Hemoglobin picks up glucose from your bloodstream, becoming glycosylated. As blood glucose rises, so does the level of glycosylated hemoglobin, or HbA1c. And once hemoglobin becomes glycosylated, it stays that way for the life of the red blood cell, or about three months.

The HbA1c test is used to monitor blood glucose control over a period of time and also to diagnose diabetes.

How Is Blood Glucose Monitoring Performed

Before you begin, wash your hands thoroughly to prevent infection at the finger-prick site. If you use alcohol wipes instead of washing, be sure to let the site dry before testing.

Next, put a testing strip into the meter. Prick your finger with the lancet to get a small drop of blood. Use the sides of the fingertips instead of the tip to decrease finger discomfort.

The blood goes on the test strip you inserted into the meter. Your monitor will analyze the blood and give you the blood glucose reading on its digital display usually within a minute.

Finger pricks rarely require a bandage, but you may want to use one if bleeding continues beyond a few drops. Its important to follow all the instructions that came with your glucometer to ensure accurate results.

If you have type 1 diabetes, you may need to test your blood glucose four or more times per day. This includes before and after meals and exercise, and more often when you are sick.

If you have type 2 diabetes, your doctor will let you know when and how often to test your blood glucose.

What Are Normal Blood Sugar Levels

You might want to measure your blood sugar before meals to get a baseline, and then two hours after your meal to measure your “normal blood sugar level”. Your doctor might also suggest measuring blood sugar before bed to be sure you have been eating well throughout the day and can go to sleep with peace of mind.

These are considered within the range of “normal” for blood sugar:

  • Less than 140 mg/dl if you do not have diabetes.
  • Less than 180 mg/dl if you have diabetes.

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How Can I Treat Low Blood Sugar

If youve had low blood sugar without feeling or noticing symptoms , you may need to check your blood sugar more often to see if its low and treat it. Driving with low blood sugar can be dangerous, so be sure to check your blood sugar before you get behind the wheel.

Carry supplies for treating low blood sugar with you. If you feel shaky, sweaty, or very hungry or have other symptoms, check your blood sugar. Even if you dont have symptoms but think you may have low blood sugar, check it. If your blood sugar is lower than 70 mg/dL, do one of the following immediately:

  • Take four glucose tablets.
  • Drink four ounces of fruit juice.
  • Drink four ounces of regular soda, not diet soda.
  • Eat four pieces of hard candy.

Wait for 15 minutes and then check your blood sugar again. Do one of the above treatments again until your blood sugar is 70 mg/dL or above and eat a snack if your next meal is an hour or more away. If you have problems with low blood sugar, ask your doctor if your treatment plan needs to be changed.

What Is Blood Glucose

How to Measure Your Blood Sugar By Yourself

Glucose mainly comes from carbohydrates in the food and drinks you consume. Its your bodys main source of energy. Your blood carries glucose to all of your bodys cells to use for energy.

Several bodily processes help keep your blood glucose in a healthy range. Insulin, a hormone your pancreas makes, is the most significant contributor to maintaining healthy blood sugar.

If you have elevated blood glucose levels , it usually indicates diabetes. Diabetes develops when your pancreas doesnt make any insulin or enough insulin or your body isnt responding to the effects of insulin properly.

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Fasting Blood Glucose Levels: 100

Fasting blood glucose levels between 100 to 125 mg/dL, or 5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L, are considered elevated and are classified as outside of the normal range.

This range may indicate or lead to the onset of prediabetes, which can put you at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, blood lipid disorders, and other adverse conditions.

People with elevated fasting glucose levels may want to have a conversation with a doctor and dietitian or nutritionist about making lifestyle changes to stabilize their levels.

What Are Blood Glucose Tests Used To Diagnose

Glucose testing is primarily done to diagnose or manage type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes. Diabetes is a condition that causes your blood glucose levels to rise.

The amount of sugar in your blood is usually controlled by a hormone called insulin. But if you have diabetes, your body either doesnt make enough insulin or the insulin produced doesnt work properly. This causes sugar to build up in your blood.

If left untreated, chronically elevated levels of blood sugar can lead to other serious conditions including kidney disease, blindness, and heart disease.

In some cases, blood glucose testing may also be used to test for hypoglycemia. This condition occurs when the levels of glucose in your blood are too low, usually lower than 70 milligrams per deciliter .

Hypoglycemia can occur in people with diabetes if they take too much of their medication, like insulin, exercise more than usual, or skip a meal. Less commonly, hypoglycemia can be caused by other underlying conditions or medications.

Doctors consider very low blood sugar to be a medical emergency, as it can lead to seizures, coma, and even death.

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How Do I Measure Blood Sugar

If you have diabetes, you probably already keep a watchful eye on your blood sugar through the use of a continuous glucose monitor or a blood sugar meter . Blood sugar measurement is also typically included in routine lab work for people without diabetes — your physician will usually order a glycated hemoglobin test, which measures your average blood sugar over the past two to three months.

Say your A1C test comes back with no sign of diabetes — constantly measuring your blood sugar can still be helpful. For instance, some people experiment with using a CGM to see how their body responds to different types of food. However, it’s good to note that this is a fairly cost-intensive way of figuring out your nutrition, and writing down a food diary that includes how you felt after each meal will also help you figure out what to eat.

Check out these blood sugar monitors if you’re looking for recommendations on how to keep track of your levels at home.

What Should My Blood Sugar Level Be When I Wake Up

Blood glucose measurement – OSCE Guide

These are goal levels, according to The Joslin Diabetes Center:

  • Under 100 mg/dl if you do not have diabetes.
  • 70 to 130 mg/dl if you have diabetes.

The dawn effect can often lead to a high morning measurement in diabetes. This is your body’s tendency to get ready for the day by raising blood sugar by increasing levels of counter-regulatory hormones ââ¬â the ones that counteract insulin as in normal blood sugar. For people with diabetes, you do not have the capacity to counterbalance this rise in blood sugar, so levels can be dangerously high.

Ways to lower your morning blood sugar value include:

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Risk Factors For Diabetes

You may have more likely to get type 1 diabetes if you:

  • are a teenager or younger
  • have a family member with the condition
  • have certain genes that give you a genetic predisposition

Your risk for type 2 diabetes may increase

Research has shown that type 2 diabetes occurs more often in adults with Native American, African American, Hispanic or Latino American, Asian American, or Alaskan or Pacific Islander ancestry than non-Hispanic white adults.

They may also be more likely to experience decreased quality of care and increased barriers to prevention and self-management support due to healthcare disparities.

Checking your blood sugar levels can be done at home or in a doctors office. Read on to learn more about blood sugar tests, who they are for, and what the results mean.

How To Reduce Blood Sugar

You can take steps to reach your blood sugar goals as soon as you find out that it is high. This is how to reduce blood sugar if you have a single high reading that may be dangerous:

  • Ask your doctor what to do if you missed a dose of insulin or another diabetes medication
  • Ask your doctor if your medication types and doses are still appropriate for you
  • Drink water to dilute the sugar
  • Exercise for 15 minutes
  • Eat a small protein snack, such as a hard-boiled egg, 1/2 ounce of peanuts or pistachios or other nuts, 1/2 cup of beans, or 1/2 cup of plain yogurt or cottage cheese

If you have chronically high blood sugar in prediabetes or diabetes, you can follow this treatment plan:

  • Exercise regularly, assuming your doctor approves it
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Eat a higher proportion of vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fruit
  • Limit sugary foods and beverages, fried foods, refined starches, and processed and fatty red meats
  • Beware of starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, which can spike your blood sugar. Check out our guide of which veggies to avoid!

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How Do I Measure My Blood Sugar Level

Follow your doctors advice and the instructions that come with the BGM or CGM. Different meters work differently, so be sure to check with your doctor for advice specifically for you. With a BGM, youll usually follow the steps below:

  • Wash your hands and dry them well before doing the test.
  • Use an alcohol pad to clean the area that youre going to prick. For most glucose meters, you will prick your fingertip. However, with some meters, you can also use your forearm, thigh, or the fleshy part of your hand. Ask your doctor what area you should use with your meter.
  • Prick yourself with a sterile lancet to get a drop of blood.
  • Place the drop of blood on the test strip.
  • Follow the instructions for inserting the test strip into your glucose meter.
  • The meter will give you a number for your blood sugar level.

If you have a CGM, youll follow the insertion directions that come with the monitor. Once its warmed up, the transmitter wirelessly sends the data to your computer or smartphone.

What Factors Affect Blood Sugar

Diabetes Patient Measuring Glucose Level Blood Test Stock Photo

You can guess that carbohydrate intake and insulin production are at least partly responsible for your blood sugar levels. But the list is much longer — almost every lifestyle choice you make can affect your blood sugar. Here’s just a partial list.

  • Exercise can affect insulin sensitivity, leading to lower blood sugar for up to 48 hours.
  • Alcohol intake increases insulin production, causing low blood sugar.
  • Stress hormones like cortisol can raise blood sugar, because your body wants access to energy in order to escape what it perceives as a dangerous situation.
  • Medications, especially statins and diuretics, can raise blood sugar. Statins are used to treat cholesterol, and diuretics for high blood pressure.
  • Diet is a major player in blood sugar. Eating too many simple carbs at once can cause levels to skyrocket, while protein intake leads to a slower increase in blood sugar.
  • Dehydration raises blood sugar, because with less water in your body the glucose concentration will be higher.

Other surprising factors can affect your blood sugar, like a sunburn or gum disease, so if you’re dealing with a blood sugar issue and can’t figure out what’s causing your spikes and dips, talk to a healthcare professional.

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Tests For Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is diagnosed using blood tests. Youll probably be tested between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. If your risk is higher for getting gestational diabetes , your doctor may test you earlier. Blood sugar thats higher than normal early in your pregnancy may indicate you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes rather than gestational diabetes.

Blood Glucose Conversion Tables

Millimoles per liter or milligrams per deciliter? There are two different ways of measuring blood glucose levels: It can either be in terms of a molar concentration, measured in mmol/L or a mass concentration, measured in mg/dL. Most blood glucose meters are prefixed to measure in one or the other. This avoids accidental switching â which could be fatal. However, you still have to be aware of the different measurement units: If information are listed in the units your meter does not support, you need to convert the values. mg/dL 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 mmol/L 0.6 0.8 1.1 1.4 1.7 1.9 2.2 2.5 2.8 3.1 3.3 3.6 3.9 4.2 4.4 4.7 5.0 mg/dl 95 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 200 210 220 230 240 250 mmol/L 5.3 5.6 6.1 6.7 7.2 7.8 8.3 8.9 9.4 10.0 10.5 11.1 11.7 12.2 12.8 13.3 13.9 mg/dL 260 270 280 290 300 325 350 375 400 425 450 475 500 525 550 575 600 mmol/L 14.4 15.0 15.5 16.1 16.7 18.0 19.4 20.8 22.2 23.6 25.0 26.4 27.8 29.1 30.5 31.9 33.3 mmol/L in mg/dL, conversion factor: 1 mmol/L = 18,018 mg/dL mmol/L 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 2 2.2 2.4 2.6 2.8 3 3.3 3.6 4 4.5 mg/dL 11 14 18 22 25 29 32 36 40 43 47 50 54 59 65 72 81 mmol/L 5 5.5 6 6.5 7 7.5 8 8.5 9 9.5 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 mg/dL 90 99 108 117 126 135 144 153 162 171 180 198 216 234 252 270 288 mmol/L 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 mg/dL 306 324 342 360 378 396 414 432 450 468 486 505 523 541 559 577 595 Hightlight productContinue reading > >

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Blood Sugar: Here’s How To Measure It And Tell If Your Level Is Healthy

Caroline Roberts

Digital Editorial Intern

Caroline Roberts writes articles and notifications for CNET. She studies English at Cal Poly, and loves philosophy, Karl the Fog and a strong cup of black coffee.

High blood sugar levels are a problem, even if you don’t have a family history of diabetes. Blood sugar that’s consistently higher than ideal can coexist with Type 2 diabetes and cause serious health conditions like kidney disease, nerve problems or stroke.

While that’s no reason to panic, when it comes to our health, it’s important to know exactly what’s going on inside of our bodies. Let’s get into what blood sugar means, how to measure it and everything else you need to know.

How Do I Pick A Glucose Meter

How to Measure Blood Glucose

Your doctor will make a recommendation. Check with your health insurance plan to see if it will pay for your BGM, its supplies, or a CGM. If so, your plan may only pay for a certain meter.

Shop around and compare costs. Consider what features are important to you. For example, some meters are made for people who have poor eyesight. If you want to pay a little more money, you can get a BGM that stores the results in its memory. This allows you to compare results from several days at one time.

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Choosing A Blood Glucose Meter And Other Self

If you are not sure which blood glucose meter to buy, call your diabetes educator and health insurance company. They can tell you what you need to think about when shopping for a meter and other diabetes supplies. They may even be able to help you get a meter for a reduced price .

Most of todays home glucose meters also measure plasma glucose. If yours doesnt and instead measures the amount of glucose in your whole blood then it may be an old meter. You may want to check into getting a new one. Plasma and whole blood values aren’t that different, but if your home meter measures plasma glucose, it makes it easier for you and your healthcare team to compare home test results with your lab test results.

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