Glucose Levels: What You Need To Know
Your blood sugar level is the amount of glucose in your blood. Glucose is the main sugar found in the bloodstream. It comes from the foods you eat and is your body’s main source of energy.
The amount of glucose in your blood varies throughout the day. It changes depending on what and when you’ve eaten, and whether or not you’ve exercised. For example, levels rise after eating and fall after exercising.
The American Diabetes Association has standard blood glucose recommendations for people living with diabetes. These ranges differ based on your age, how long you’ve had diabetes, and if you have any other health conditions.
- Before meals: 80 to 130 mg/dL
- One to two hours after meals: Below 180 mg/dL
When you have diabetes, your blood sugar can be either too low or too high.
Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar. It is defined as a glucose level of less than 70 mg/dL or slightly higher.
High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, is characterized by a glucose level of 100 to 125 mg/dL while fasting . This is considered to be prediabetes. A person with a fasting blood glucose of higher than 125 mg/dL is said to have diabetes.
How Often Is Blood Should Glucose Levels Measured
While a glucometer or CGM gives you the at-the-moment sugar level, HbA1c tells you the average blood sugar level over three months. This is typically measured every 3 6 months at your regular check-up with your doctor.
How often to test your blood glucose?
Your doctor will advise you how often you should check your blood sugar level. In general, the frequency of testing depends on the type of diabetes you have and your treatment plan. Type 1 diabetes. Your doctor may recommend blood sugar testing four to 10 times a day if you have type 1 diabetes.
What To Do For A Low Blood Sugar Reading
You have low blood sugar when you get a reading below 70 mg/dl. Without treatment, this can damage the nervous system and cause seizures. If your blood sugar drops to this level and you are an adult, you need to consume about 15 grams of carbohydrates to raise it to 70 mg/dl or higher.
Wait 15 minutes and check your blood sugar. If it is still lower than 70 mg/dl, consume an additional 15 g of carbs. Repeat these steps until your reading is 70 mg/dl or more. Eat a snack until your next meal.
If you often have low blood sugar levels, check your blood sugar level before driving and address it if it is low.
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When Should I Check My Blood Glucose Level
When you should check your blood glucose levels and how often you should check varies depending on each individual, the type of diabetes and the tablets and/or insulin being used. Your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator will help you decide how many checks are needed and the levels to aim for. Possible times to check are:
- Before breakfast
- Before rigorous exercise
- When you are feeling unwell
Even though your meter may have a memory, it is important to keep a record of your readings in a diary and to take this with you to all appointments with your diabetes health team. This will provide both you and your diabetes health team with important information in deciding if and how your treatment may need to be adjusted.
Most meters on the market have software which allows you to download your records in different formats such as graphs and charts. Even if you can do this, it is still helpful to keep a diary, not only for your checks but also details of your daily activities, the food you eat and other relevant information. There are some apps that record all of this information in one place. Ask your doctor or diabetes educator how you can use a diary to help you to better manage your diabetes.
Checking four times a day is usually recommended for people with type 1 diabetes. However many people check more often, such as those using an insulin pump .
The Big Picture: Checking Your Blood Sugar
Blood sugar monitoring is the primary tool you have to find out if your blood glucose levels are within your target range. This tells you your blood glucose level at any one time.
Its important for blood sugar levels to stay in a healthy range. If glucose levels get too low, we can lose the ability to think and function normally. If they get too high and stay high, it can cause damage or complications to the body over the course of many years.
The logging of your results is vital. When you bring your log to your healthcare provider, youll have a good picture of your bodys response to your diabetes care plan. To help keep track of your levels, we have a glucose log. We also have a blood glucose log available for purchase that is smaller so you can carry it with you.
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Drinking Water During Glucose Test
The effects of food on your ability to think and Compute may be distracting. Try not eat or drink anything except WATER for at least 8 hours before the test you can have plain water ONLY during that time period- do NOT drink coffee/tea, soda , juice etc., as these could affect how fast some people type! Chewing gum also acts like cottonmouth which means coordination will suffer without restricting yourself appropriately due simply enough fluid intake Finally dont smoke AND exercise simultaneously because performance gets worse when doing both
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What Happens During A Blood Glucose Test
A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out.
For some types of glucose blood tests, you will drink a sugary liquid and wait for an hour before your blood sample is taken:
- A glucose challenge test is used to test for gestational diabetes in pregnancy. If your blood glucose level is higher than normal, you may have gestational diabetes. You’ll need an oral glucose tolerance test to get a diagnosis.
- An oral glucose tolerance test is used to diagnose gestational diabetes, and type 2 diabetes and prediabetes in people who aren’t pregnant. A blood sample will be taken before you have a sugary drink and then again, every hour for the next 2 or 3 hours.
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Diabetes Testing In Children
Many children have no symptoms before they are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Most of the time, diabetes is discovered when a blood or urine test taken for other health problems shows diabetes.
Talk to your doctor about your child’s risk for diabetes. If your child’s blood sugar tests are higher than normal, but not yet at the level of diabetes , your doctor may instruct you in specific diet and exercise changes to help your child avoid getting diabetes altogether. Children with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes are almost always overweight or obese.
What Do The Results Of The Blood Glucose Test Mean
Normal fasting blood glucose — or blood sugar — is between 70 and 100 milligrams per deciliter or mg/dL for people who do not have diabetes. The standard diagnosis of diabetes is made when two separate blood tests show that your fasting blood glucose level is greater than or equal to 126 mg/dL.
However, if you have normal fasting blood sugar, but you have risk factors for diabetes or symptoms of diabetes, your doctor may decide to do a glucose tolerance test to be sure that you do not have diabetes.
Some people have a normal fasting blood sugar reading, but their blood sugar rapidly rises as they eat. These people may have impaired glucose tolerance. If their blood sugar levels are high enough, they may be diagnosed with diabetes.
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How Do I Record My Blood Sugar Test Results
Keep good records of any blood, urine, or ketone tests you do. Most glucose monitors also have a memory. Your records can alert you to any problems or trends. These test records help your doctor make any needed changes in your meal plan, medicine, or exercise program. Bring these records with you every time you see your doctor.
How The Test Is Done
You can buy a testing kit from a pharmacy without a prescription. Your provider can help you choose the right kit, set up the meter, and teach you how to use it.
Most kits have:
- Small needles that fit into a spring-loaded plastic device
- A logbook for recording your numbers that can be downloaded and viewed at home or at your provider’s office
To do the test, prick your finger with the needle and place a drop of blood on a special strip. This strip measures how much glucose is in your blood. Some monitors use blood from areas of the body other than the fingers, reducing discomfort. The meter shows your blood sugar results as a number on a digital display. If your vision is poor, talking glucose meters are available so that you don’t have to read the numbers.
Be aware that no meter or strip is accurate 100% of the time. If your blood sugar value is unexpectedly high or low, measure again with a new strip. Do not use strips if the container has been left open or if the strip has gotten wet.
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How To Measure Blood Sugar Accurately
Whether youve just been told you have diabetes, or youve been living with the condition for a number of years, knowing how to accurately check your blood sugar at home is an important part of managing your condition.
Knowing your blood sugar levels is the first step towards preventing diabetes related complications and improving your overall health. Self-testing your blood sugar at home with a blood glucose meter can tell you what your blood sugar is in real-time. This information is key for guiding your food choices, how much you eat, your activity level, and, if you take insulin, your next dose. It gives you and your doctor useful information for your diabetes management.
It can help you:
- Identify if your blood sugar levels are high, low, or in-range.
- Follow your progress in reaching your treatment goals.
- Show the relationship that diet and exercise have on your blood sugar.
- Monitor the effectiveness of diabetes medications on blood sugar levels.
- Understand how factors such as illness or stress can affect your sugar levels.
Symptoms Of Diabetes That May Prompt An A1c Test
As mentioned by the , a doctor may recommend an A1C test if a person shows signs of poor glucose control, diabetes, or prediabetes.
Warning signs can include:
- increased urination, especially at night
- increased hunger
- numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- slow healing sores
- more than 45 years of age
- family history of diabetes
- long-term use of glucocorticoids, antipsychotics, and certain medications for HIV
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What Does The Reading Mean
It is completely normal for blood sugar levels to go up and down a little. This also happens in people who don’t have diabetes. The amount of sugar in your blood is influenced by things like what you eat and drink, how much exercise you get, and what medications you take. Depending on whether blood sugar levels are measured on an empty stomach or immediately after a meal, they vary between 3.3 and 7.8 mmol/l in people who don’t have diabetes. There are no clear-cut boundaries between the normal range of blood sugar and high or low blood sugar.
Blood sugar: Normal range between hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia
Additional Measurement Of Sugar Levels In Body Tissue
You can also monitor your sugar levels using a device that measures the amount of sugar in fat tissue underneath your skin. This is called continuous glucose monitoring . CGM devices measure the sugar levels in the tissue fluid every few minutes, and alert you if your blood sugar is too high or too low. They are also available in combination with an insulin pump. But people with type 2 diabetes generally only use them if it isnt possible to monitor their blood sugar properly using other approaches.
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How To Test Your Blood Glucose
- This should include: your meter , a test strip to hand , the finger pricker , cotton wool and a monitoring diary to record the results
- A fuller drop of blood will be obtained if your fingers are warm, so its worth warming your hands up if you can. Be careful not to overheat your fingers so as not to hurt yourself.
- Recommended finger: the World Health Organisation recommends the middle or ring fingers are used for blood glucose tests . You may want to avoid using your little finger due to the skin being thin.
- You may need to squeeze your finger a little until blood appears if you find you need to squeeze hard, try pricking a finger again.
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How It Is Done
- A blood sample is taken when you arrive for the test. This is your fasting blood glucose value. It will be compared to other glucose values in your blood.
- You will drink a small cup of very sweet liquid that contains 75 or 100 grams of glucose.
- You will have more blood tests over 1 to 3 hours.
- Since activity can affect test results, you will be asked to sit quietly during the entire test. Do not eat during the test. You may drink water during this time.
Whats My Target Range
You might be asking, what’s the normal range for blood sugar levels? The answer is, there is a healthy range that you should ideally be aiming for. The infographics above show the general guidelines, but your individual target range for your blood sugar levels may be different. Youll healthcare team will agree with you what it is.
Youll get different readings at different times of the day, depending on things like what youve eaten and how much you are moving around. Heres a guide to help you get started on finding your target range:
If youre a child with type 1 diabetes
- when you wake up and before meals: 4 to 7mmol/l
- after meals: 5 to 9mmol/l
If youre an adult with type 1 diabetes
- when you wake up and before meals: 5 to 7mmol/l
- before meals at other times of the day: 4 to 7mmol/l
If you have type 2 diabetes
- before meals: 4 to 7mmol/l
- two hours after meals: less than 8.5mmol/l
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