A1c Blood Sugar Tests
The A1C test measures the percentage of glucose bound hemoglobin in a persons blood.
According to The National Institutes of Health , this gives a general picture of a persons blood glucose levels over the past 23 months.
Abnormal A1C test results do not necessarily mean a person has diabetes. A doctor will confirm these findings with another blood glucose test.
The doctor may recommend running more tests, such as blood work, to rule out other conditions that can affect blood sugar levels.
Normal Blood Sugar Levels
It is important to work with your doctor to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. The following is a list of healthy blood sugar levels.
If an individual has type 1 diabetes the blood sugar should be the following:
- Before meals: From 90 to 130 mg/dL for adults
- After meals : Less than 180 mg/dL for adults
- At bedtime: From 90 to 150 mg/dL for adults
If an individual has type 2 diabetes, levels should be the following:
- Before meals: From 70 to 130 mg/dL for adults
- After meals : Less than 180 mg/dL for adults
Levels In The Morning
The best time to check blood sugar levels in the morning is right when you wake up and before you eat anything. This gives you a glimpse of what may be happening overnight, and it gives you a baseline for the day.
These are goal levels, according to The Joslin Diabetes Center:
- Under 70 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 bodys tendency to get ready for the day by raising blood sugar by increasing levels of counter-regulatory hormones 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:
- Eating dinner earlier
- Checking your medications making sure you are taking them properly and asking your doctor if they are correct
- Going for a walk after dinner
- Including protein with your dinner
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When Should Hba1c Levels Be Tested
Everyone with diabetes mellitus in the UK should be offered an HbA1c test at least once a year.
Some people may have an HbA1c test more often. This may be more likely if you have recently had your medication changed or your health team are otherwise wishing to monitor your diabetes control more than once a year.
Although HbA1c level alone does not predict diabetes complications, good control is known to lower the risk of complications
What Is Blood Sugar
Blood sugar, or glucose, is your body’s main energy source. We get glucose from the food we eat, and our blood carries it around to all the cells in the body to give them energy to function. Glucose mainly comes from the carbohydrates we eat, though our bodies can convert protein and fat into sugar too if needed.
Glucose from protein is typically stored in the liver and doesn’t enter the bloodstream, so eating protein-rich foods won’t raise your blood sugar too much. Fats slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, which causes a delayed rise in blood sugar. A high blood sugar can be an issue because it usually leads to sugar crashes, which are no fun — symptoms include fatigue, headaches and the jitters. So, eat meals balanced with protein, fat and carbs to avoid this.
Blood sugar is closely related to insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps your body use glucose that’s in the carbohydrates you eat. Insulin helps regulate your blood sugar levels — if you eat more sugar than you need in the moment, the hormone helps store the glucose in your liver until it’s needed for energy.
You probably also know about blood sugar in the context of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which people are unable to make insulin, so they need to inject the hormone in order to keep their blood sugar levels stable. People with Type 2 diabetes, which usually occurs later in life, either don’t secrete insulin or are resistant to it.
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What Is High Blood Sugar
If your blood sugar levels are chronically higher than normal, then this is referred to as hyperglycaemia. This is a common issue for those suffering from diabetes. The condition can also affect pregnant women who have gestational diabetes and occasionally those who are severely ill .
Some of the symptoms of hyperglycaemia include:
- Increased thirst
- Blurred vision
- Issues with concentration and/or thinking
If severe hyperglycaemia is left untreated the condition can lead to organ and tissue damage as the excess glucose present in the body can make it difficult for the organs and cells to function correctly. The disorder can also impair the immune system response in the healing of wounds and cuts.
What Is Blood Glucose
Blood glucose comes from food. When an individual eats, the food is broken down into sugar and sent to the blood. The insulin is what helps the sugar go into the cells. Once this happens, the sugar that has moved from the blood into the cells is used for energy or is stored.
Glucose is known as the bodys main energy source. Too much glucose in the blood, or if it is not absorbed properly, can create health issues both long and short term. To keep a healthy blood sugar level, it is important to:
- Eat healthily
- Check blood glucose levels
- Keep in contact with your healthcare provider
It is important to keep in contact with a healthcare professional, eat properly, check your blood glucose, and exercise regularly to keep a healthy blood sugar level.
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How To Use A Blood Glucose Meter:
- After washing your hands, insert a test strip into your meter.
- Use your lancing device on the side of your fingertip to get a drop of blood.
- Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood and wait for the result.
- Your blood glucose level will appear on the meter’s display.
Note: All meters are slightly different, so always refer to your user’s manual for specific instructions.
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:
- Less than 140 mg/dl if you do not have diabetes.
- Less than 180 mg/dl if you have diabetes.
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What Do My Results Mean
When you finish the blood sugar check, write down your results and note what factors may have affected them, such as food, activity, and stress. Take a close look at your blood glucose record to see if your level is too high or too low several days in a row at about the same time. If the same thing keeps happening, it might be time to change your diabetes care plan. Work with your doctor or diabetes educator to learn what your results mean for you. It can take time to make adjustments and get things just right. And do ask your doctor if you should report results out of a certain range right away by phone.
Keep in mind that blood glucose results often trigger strong feelings. Blood sugar numbers can leave you upset, confused, frustrated, angry, or down. It’s easy to use the numbers to judge yourself. Remind yourself that tracking your blood sugar level is simply a way to know how well your diabetes care plan is working, and whether that plan may need to change.
What Is The A1c Test
The A1C test is a simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 2 or 3 months. The test is done at a lab or your doctors office in addition tonot instead ofregular blood sugar testing you do yourself.
A1C testing is part of the ABCs of diabetesimportant steps you can take to prevent or delay health complications down the road:
- A: Get a regular A1C test.
- B: Try to keep your blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg .
- C: Manage your cholesterol levels.
- s: Stop smoking or dont start.
The A1C goal for most adults with diabetes is between 7% and 8%, but your goal may be different depending on your age, other health conditions, medicines youre taking, and other factors. Work with your doctor to establish a personal A1C goal for you.
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Symptoms Of Diabetes That May Prompt An A1c Test
As mentioned by the NIH, 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
- long-term use of glucocorticoids, antipsychotics, and certain medications for HIV
The 411 On A1c: Normal A1c Levels And 15 Ways To Lower High A1c
The hemoglobin A1C test is the closest thing to a diabetes scorecard you can find. Whether someone has had diabetes mellitus for years or if they have just been diagnosed, they have probably heard about this test. Unlike blood sugar meters people use at home, the A1C measures an average blood sugar level over the past several months by analyzing how many of a patients hemoglobin cells have glucose attached to them. The test results keep track of how well a person is managing his or her diabetes.
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What Should I Aim For
Effective management of diabetes is all about aiming for a careful balance between the foods you eat, how active you are and the medication you take for your diabetes. Because this is a delicate balance, it can be quite difficult to achieve the best possible blood glucose management all the time.
The ranges will vary depending on the individual and an individuals circumstances. While it is important to keep your blood glucose levels as close to the target range of target range between 4 to 6 mmol/L as possible to prevent complications, it is equally important to check with your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator for the range of blood glucose levels that are right and safe for you. Therefore the following information should be treated only as a general guide.
Why Your A1c Matters
In a nutshell: your A1c is one of the clearest indicators of your risk for developing diabetes complications like neuropathy , retinopathy , nephropathy , and severe infection in any part of your body that requires healing.
For instance, a small cut on your toe could become infected due to high blood sugars, struggle to heal, and become severe enough that the infection could lead to an amputation.
The general guidelines from the American Diabetes Association recommend an A1c at or below 7.0 percent for the best prevention of diabetes complications. Your risk of developing a diabetes complication continues to drop as your A1c drops closer to 6 percent.
Some people with diabetes aim for A1c levels in the 5s and lower especially those who follow strict low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet and the Bernstein diet. However, this hasnt been proven in research as especially necessary, nor is it reasonably achievable for the larger population of people with diabetes.
Its also important to remember that your blood sugar levels and your A1c are just information that tells you whether your body needs more or less of factors like insulin, other diabetes medications, changes in your nutrition, and changes in your exercise.
If you dont like the number youre seeing on your glucose meter or your A1c results, use that number as motivation to make changes in how you safely manage your diabetes in order to get different results.
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Who Is Most At Risk For Developing Diabetes
The following categories of people are considered “high-risk” candidates for developing diabetes:
- Individuals who are overweight or obese
- Individuals who are 45 years of age or older
- Individuals with first-degree relatives with diabetes
- Individuals who are African-American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asia American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islanders,
- Women who developed diabetes while they were pregnant or gave birth to large babies
- Individuals with high blood pressure
- Individuals with high-density lipoprotein below 25 mg/dl or triglyceride levels at or above 250 mg/dl
- Individuals who have impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance
- Individuals who are physically inactive engaging in exercise less than three times a week
- Individuals who have polycystic ovary syndrome, also called PCOS
- Individuals who have acanthosis nigricans — dark, thick and velvety skin around your neck or armpits
In addition to testing the above individuals at high risk, the American Diabetes Association also recommends screening all individuals age 45 and older.
Controlling Blood Glucose Levels
Uncontrolled blood sugar can result in regular episodes of hyperglycemia . This can cause a variety of symptoms including:
- Dry mouth
These symptoms are uncomfortable to experience but there are things you can do at home to reduce your blood sugar. In terms of drinks, water is the best as it will help to maintain hydration and dilute excess sugar in the blood. Also, try to add more fiber to your diet to reduce your blood sugar apples, bananas, oranges, and strawberries are all fibrous fruits.
However, uncontrolled blood sugar levels can also lead to more severe, long term disease. Poorly managed diabetes leads to vision loss, kidney problems, nerve damage, heart attack, and stroke. Therefore, if your blood sugar level reaches 16.7mmol/L, this could be dangerous and you need to seek immediate medical attention.
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Different Levels And What They Mean
The ranges of safe levels of blood glucose depend on factors such as what time of day it is and when you last ate. Safe levels of blood sugar are high enough to supply your organs with the sugar they need, but low enough to prevent symptoms of hyperglycemia or complications of diabetes which follow the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases guides. Dangerous levels of blood glucose are outside of this range.
The target levels can also vary if you have diabetes. For example, if you are diabetic and are monitoring your blood sugar, you might get a reading of 65 mg/dl. That is considered to be mild hypoglycemia, and you would be wise to eat 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates and retest your blood sugar in 15 minutes.
If you were not diabetic, you probably would not know that your sugar was low because you would not test and because you would not symptoms, and you would not act.
That is fine because your body is capable, under normal circumstances, of raising your blood glucose to healthy levels when needed, even if you have not eaten. It is important to keep them in control to help prevent issues like heart disease or nerve damage.
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Factors That Can Affect Blood Sugar Levels
If you have prediabetes or diabetes, you may have insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin. This means your body has difficulty regulating blood sugar levels on its own.
Its a delicate balance to maintain, so the following list can help you familiarize yourself with factors that can cause your blood glucose levels to go up or down.
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How To Check Your Own Blood Sugar Level
One way to check ones own sugar level is by pricking a finger with a lancet and placing the blood that comes out onto a test strip, then inserting the strip into a glucose monitor. A meter can tell you what your levels are in about 5 seconds. Another option is by taking an oral glucose tolerance test , which takes longer but may also provide more accurate results. A persons individual level will depend on many factors including how old they are, their ethnicity, their weight and height, and the activity theyve performed recently. Blood sugar levels can be checked by pricking a finger to get a drop of blood and putting it on a glucose meter.
When Should I Check My Blood Sugar
How often you check your blood sugar depends on the type of diabetes you have and if you take any diabetes medicines.
Typical times to check your blood sugar include:
- When you first wake up, before you eat or drink anything.
- Before a meal.
- Two hours after a meal.
- At bedtime.
If you have type 1 diabetes, have type 2 diabetes and take insulin, or often have low blood sugar, your doctor may want you to check your blood sugar more often, such as before and after youre physically active.
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