What Are Blood Sugar Levels
Your blood sugar levels, also known as blood glucose levels, are a measurement that show how much glucose you have in your blood. Glucose is a sugar that you get from food and drink. Your blood sugar levels go up and down throughout the day and for people living with diabetes these changes are larger and happen more often than in people who dont have diabetes.
You can check your sugar levels yourself by doing a finger-prick test, by using a flash glucose monitor or with a continuous glucose monitor . You can do this a number of times a day helping you keep an eye on your levels as you go about your life and help you work out what to eat and how much medication to take. Find out your ideal target range.
But not everyone with diabetes needs to check their levels like this. Youll need to if you take certain diabetes medication. Always talk to your healthcare team if youre not sure whether thats you theyll give you advice on whether to check them yourself and how often.
And theres also something called an HbA1c, which measures your average blood sugar level from the previous few months. Everyone with diabetes is entitled to this check.
High blood sugar levels increase your risk of developing serious complications. However you manage your diabetes, stay in the know about your blood sugar levels.
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Everyday Health: Testing Too Soon After Eating
This is the kind of website that, on the surface, doesnt seem to have any credibility in the medical field at all! But they do have a Wellness Advisory Board that includes a number of MDs and PhDs.
Anyway, Im citing an article of theirs that was written by some lady who is not a doctor and peer-reviewed by another who is a doctor. So heres what they say:
Testing too soon after youve had a meal or a snack will give you results that are probably too high. The solution for better diabetes control: Test fasting blood sugar, and test every time before you eat. Wait two hours after eating to get the best reading.
Source: Everyday Health | 7 Blood Sugar Testing Mistakes to Avoid
Here is yet another source that says to wait 2 hours after eating before you check your glucose.
But heres the best part!
Wait two hours after eating to get the best reading.
The BEST reading? When it comes to goddam diabetes and glucose numbers, best generally means lowest. But I dont think thats what theyre saying.
Im gonna assume that by best they mean the result that most accurately reflects what effect a meal has had on your blood sugar.
That is what I have to ASSUME. Because they didnt say that specifically. Why? Who the f**k knows.
All right, so there you have it! Four different sources, three of which recommend testing glucose 2 hours after you eat, and one that punts the issue to your doctor.
For me, 2 hours is 2 long.
What Are The Complications Of Low Blood Glucose
Mild-to-moderate low blood glucose can be easily treated. But severely low blood glucose can cause serious complications, including passing out, coma, or death.
Repeated episodes of low blood glucose can lead to
- high blood glucose levels, if worry or fear of low blood glucose keeps you from taking the medicines you need to manage your diabetes8
- hypoglycemia unawareness, a condition in which you dont notice any symptoms of low blood glucose until your blood glucose level has dropped very low
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What Are Normal Blood Sugar Levels After Eating
If you want to get an idea of what your normal blood sugar levels are, you’ll need to check them. Your provider might want you to check at different times of the day, but you can start by checking your blood glucose levels one to two hours after eating.
Seeing what your blood sugar is after a meal or snack can help you better understand how your levels are affected by the food you eat as well as when you eat.
If you have diabetes, checking your blood sugar regularly helps you figure out if you’re taking the right dose of insulin .
As a general rule, your blood sugar level should be below 180 mg/dL one to two hours after you start eating a meal or snack.
However, your target blood sugar range will depend on:
Make A Note Of Your Readings
It may sound obvious, but you must record your readings. Note them down in a diary, a notebook or in your phone calendar. Some meters have software that lets you do this. You could try a diabetes app too.
You and your healthcare team can then look back over your results to see if you need to adjust your treatment.
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How To Track Blood Sugar Levels
Blood sugar vacillates throughout the day due to many factors, says Megan Wolf, a registered dietitian and diabetes care and education specialist at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. The preferred way to keep track of it? Whatever works best for you. This may include journaling numbers into a logbook or typing blood sugar readings into an app, says Wolf. A lot of my patients find continuous glucose monitors helpful. Glucometers and continuous glucose monitoring systems store glucose data that can be uploaded to a computer. Then the patient can review their blood sugar data on their device or keep a detailed written log.
How To Deal With High Postprandial Blood Sugar Levels
Obviously, check your levels first meaning at least 90 minutes after a meal. Why? By that time rapid-acting analog insulin has reached its maximum effect By the way, the blood sugar reminder in the mySugr app is a great way to check your glucose after a meal. After all, no one can be expected to remember everything! Just set the reminder for a specific time and youll automatically be reminded. If you have type 1 diabetes, your blood sugar should be between 5 and 9 mmol/liter at least 90 minutes after eating . Of course, your doctor may recommend another postprandial level according to your personal needs and state of health
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How Can I Lower My Blood Sugar In Minutes
Exercise is recommended Exercise has been shown to be a very effective means of lowering elevated blood sugar levels. If you dont use insulin, exercise can be a fairly easy way to lower your high blood sugar levels if you dont have diabetes. Even a 15-minute stroll might have a significant influence on your blood glucose levels.
Choose The Right Insulin
The right insulin program can make or break your ability to control after-meal spikes. In general, insulins and other medicines that work quickly and for a short time will work better than those that work slowly over a prolonged period.
For instance, rapid-acting insulin analogs , which start working 1015 minutes after injection and peak in about an hour, will cover the after-meal blood glucose rises much better than Regular insulin, which takes 30 minutes to begin working and 23 hours to peak.
Newer ultra-rapid insulins, such as Fiasp , works even faster, with an onset and peak occurring 810 minutes earlier than traditional rapid-acting insulins.
The way insulin is administered can dramatically affect its speed of action. Afrezza is an inhaled insulin formulation that can be used at mealtimes. Because the dry powder is absorbed through the lungs , its onset and peak are much earlier than injected insulin .
Research has also shown that injected insulin can work much faster when the injection site is warmed. This can be accomplished by rubbing the site, immersing in warm water or exercising the muscle near the site. Warming the site causes the blood vessels near the skin to dilate, which allows the insulin to absorb more quickly. By the way, smoking causes the blood vessels to constrict, so quitting smoking might improve your post-meal blood sugar .
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How Do I Check My Blood Sugar
You use a blood glucose meter to check your blood sugar. This device uses a small drop of blood from your finger to measure your blood sugar level. You can get the meter and supplies in a drug store or by mail.
Read the directions that come with your meter to learn how to check your blood sugar. Your health care team also can show you how to use your meter. Write the date, time, and result of the test in your blood sugar record. Take your blood sugar record and meter to each visit and talk about your results with your health care team.
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When Blood Sugar Is Too Low
Glucose is a sugar that comes from the foods we eat, and its also formed and stored inside the body. Its the main source of energy for the cells of our body, and is carried to each cell through the bloodstream. Our brains depend on glucose to function, even when were sleeping.
The is the amount of glucose in the blood. When these levels drop too low, its called hypoglycemia . Very low blood sugar levels can cause serious symptoms that need to be treated right away.
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The Big Picture: Checking Your Blood Glucose
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 glucose 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 health care provider, youll have a good picture of your body’s 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.
Using The Same Finger All The Time
People choose to use the same finger and the same spot in part because everyone has a favorite, says Uelmen, and also because calluses build up and cut down on the discomfort. But varying your fingers is better.
The solution for better diabetes control: “The goal is to use a different finger each day or each time,” she says. Switching fingers allows the pricked finger to heal and also helps to avoid pain caused by repeat jabs.
If your blood sugar readings are generally consistent, you can even try alternate site testing, such as using the palm of your hand, if you want to get away from your fingers periodically. But simply using different spots on the same finger can also prevent soreness.
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How Meds Impact Blood Sugar Testing
Its important to check blood sugar more frequently if your physician changes your diabetes medications or if youre prescribed other medications, including steroids and certain antibiotics, which can affect blood sugar, notes Wolf. Depending on the drug, it can do wonky things to your blood sugar soon after taking it, sometimes within a few hours. For example, glucocorticoids such as prednisone can cause hyperglycemia via multiple mechanisms, adds Dr. Kohlenberg. His advice: Anytime you start a new medication, review it with your physician to see if this will impact your glucose and diabetes treatment plan.
How Long Will The Effects Last
The effects of low blood sugar will continue and may even get worse until treatment brings your blood sugar level back to normal. It may take several minutes for the symptoms to go away after you start treatment. This may be a temporary problem while you and your healthcare provider are adjusting your medicine. If you are always prone to having low blood sugar, you may need to take special care for the rest of your life to keep your blood sugar at the proper level.
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When Is The Best Time To Test Blood Sugar
The preferred time to test blood sugar isnt before breakfast any more. Researchers looking at studies of hundreds of people with type 2 diabetes suggest that high blood glucose levels after meals has a greater effect on A1C levels among people who have their diabetes under good control than among those with poor control.
When A1C results are low less than 7.3 percent mealtime glucose contributes about 70 percent of the A1C. However, when A1C results are high greater than 10.2 percent fasting blood glucose contributes 70 percent of the A1C value.
If your A1C levels are above 7.0 percent, you run a much greater risk of complications. That means getting your diabetes under control needs to be your top priority. After you do that, you can concentrate on testing after meals.
But do we start counting from the beginning, the middle, or the end of the meal? And should we test one, two, or more hours after eating?
There is a great variation in the length of a meal. So it is more precise to start counting from the time of the first bite. Another reason to start counting from the beginning of a meal is because our glucose levels begin to rise about 10 minutes after the start of a meal.
Both organizations recommend that most of us test two hours after eating. While your blood glucose level could be highest one hour after a meal, there are good reasons to wait until two hours after the first bite. Writing on a diabetes mailing list, someone called Helen said it best:
How Long After Eating Does It Take For Blood Sugar To Return To Normal
The timing of blood sugar spikes can vary, but they should peak about 90 minutes after eating a meal. In people without diabetes and people who are successfully treating diabetes, blood sugar should start going down again a few hours later. However, blood sugar levels in people with untreated diabetes can stay high even two hours after eating.
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Recommended Blood Sugar Targets For Most People With Diabetes*
Your targets may not be the same as the examples in this chart. Your targets are important and should be specific to you.
|4.0 to 7.0
|5.0 to 10.0
* This information is based on the Diabetes Canada 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada and is a guide.** A1C is a measurement of your average blood sugar control for the last two to three months and approximately 50 per cent of the value comes from the last 30 days.
Other Tips For Checking:
- With some meters, you can also use your forearm, thigh, or fleshy part of your hand.
- There are spring-loaded lancing devices that make sticking yourself less painful.
- If you use your fingertip, stick the side of your fingertip by your fingernail to avoid having sore spots on the frequently used part of your finger.
Random Blood Sugar Test
This measures your blood sugar at the time youre tested. You can take this test at any time and dont need to fast first. A blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes.
|140 mg/dL or below
*Results for gestational diabetes can differ. Ask your health care provider what your results mean if youre being tested for gestational diabetes.Source: American Diabetes Association
If your doctor thinks you have type 1 diabetes, your blood may also tested for autoantibodies that are often present in type 1 diabetes but not in type 2 diabetes. You may have your urine tested for ketones , which also indicate type 1 diabetes instead of type 2 diabetes.
What Should A Normal Blood Sugar Level Be One Hour After Eating
You should always consult with your doctor about what your target blood sugar levels should be, as its not always the same for everyone. If youre looking for a standard benchmark, the American Diabetes Association recommends a target of below 180 mg/dL one to two hours after you eat. For people without diabetes, you should aim for a target below 140 mg/dL.
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Why Is It Important To Reduce The Size And Duration Of These Spikes
Reducing these spikes may help you to increase the amount of time you spend in your target blood sugar range , which will have a positive impact on your future health. You should consult your healthcare team to understand the best target range for you, as this will differ from person to person. However, the International Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Diabetes recommends a target of 5.0-10.0 mmol/L .
Symptoms of a high blood sugar level also vary in individuals, but they may cause you to feel thirsty, tired, stressed and need to go to the toilet a lot. In the short term, by avoiding prolonged high blood sugar readings after eating, you should also reduce the occurrence of these symptoms and improve your energy, cognitive and athletic ability and overall mood.