What Is The Normal Blood Sugar Level For Adults
As we age, our bodies become less able to regulate blood sugar levels as well as they used to. That’s why the ADA recommends that older adults aim for a fasting blood sugar level of less than 100 mg/dL. After eating, it’s ideal that your blood sugar level is below 180 mg/dL.
The ADA recommends that most adults with diabetes aim for the following blood sugar goals:
- Fasting: Less than 100 mg/dL
- Preprandial : 70-130 mg/dL
- Postprandial : Less than 180 mg/dL
- Bedtime: 100-140 mg/dL
If you experience high blood sugar levels or low blood glucose levels compared to this range you should speak to your doctor.
Translating Your A1c To A Blood Sugar Level
Using this easy calculator from the ADA, you can translate your most recent A1C result to an eAG or estimate average glucose level.
You can also use this translation when working to improve your A1c and achieve closer to normal blood sugar levels.
If you know an A1c of 6.5 is an average blood sugar level of 126 mg/dL or a range of 100 to 152 mg/dL, then you can look at your current blood sugar results on your CGM and meter and pinpoint which time of day youre frequently higher than this range.12% = 298 mg/dL or range of 240 347 11% = 269 mg/dL or range of 217 31410% = 240 mg/dL or range of 193 2829% = 212 mg/dL or range of 170 2498% = 183 mg/dL or range of 147 2177% = 154 mg/dL or range of 123 1856% = 126 mg/dL or range of 100 1525% = 97 mg/dL or range of 76 120
Normal blood sugar levels in a person without diabetes can result in an A1c as low as 4.6 or 4.7 percent and as high as 5.6 percent.
Just a decade or two ago, it was rare for a person with type 1 diabetes to achieve an A1c result below 6 percent. Thanks to new and improved insulin and better technology like continuous glucose monitors and smarter insulin pumps, more people with diabetes are able to safely achieve A1c levels in the higher 5 percent range.
What Is Continuous Glucose Monitoring
Continuous glucose monitoring is another way to check your glucose levels. Most CGM systems use a tiny sensor that you insert under your skin. The sensor measures glucose levels in the fluids between your bodys cells every few minutes and can show changes in your glucose level throughout the day and night. If the CGM system shows that your glucose is too high or too low, you should check your glucose with a blood glucose meter before making any changes to your eating plan, physical activity, or medicines. A CGM system is especially useful for people who use insulin and have problems with low blood glucose.
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The Danger Of Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, can become a lot more dangerous more quickly. Hypoglycemia, if left untreated, can quickly result in diabetic coma and death.
Low blood sugars will not lead to permanent complications in most cases but cause frequent, short-term complications in the form of being physically unable to function when experiencing a low. They require fast-acting glucose as treatment.
Symptoms of low blood sugar can hit different people at different times, and some people may not feel their low blood sugars at all , which can be very dangerous.
Continuous glucose monitoring systems and diabetes alert dogs can help people detect their lows earlier, before they become extremely dangerous.
Hypo unawareness occurs in about 40% of people with type 1 diabetes, and less frequently in people with type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, one study showed that the average person with type 1 diabetes experiences two episodes of low blood sugar per week!
Low blood sugars can happen for many reasons, all of which result from too much insulin in the bloodstream and not enough glucose for the body to function properly.
Reasons can be anything from taking too much insulin for food, to accidentally over-bolusing with an insulin pump, to not finishing a meal, to drinking alcohol in excess, or even after physical exertion and exercise while not reducing basal insulin settings appropriately.
Tips For Avoiding High And Low Blood Sugars
Walking the tightrope of a life with diabetes is not easy.
We need to strive every day to make sure that we dont let our blood sugars go too high or too low, and that can be exhausting.
Here are some strategies to help keep your blood sugar in balance:
- Eat similar foods and meals that have predictable carbohydrate counts
- Cook food at home, so you know all of the ingredients in your meal
- Keep to a routine, and eat at the same times every day
- Get enough sleep!
- Double-check your insulin doses to make sure youre not taking too much, nor too little
- If youve counted carbohydrates for a meal and dosed insulin for those carbohydrates, eat everything
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What Causes Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar has many causes, including missing a meal, taking too much insulin, taking other diabetes medicines, exercising more than normal, and drinking alcohol. Blood sugar below 70 mg/dL is considered low.
Signs of low blood sugar are different for everyone. Common symptoms include:
Know what your individual symptoms are so you can catch low blood sugar early and treat it. If you think you may have low blood sugar, check it even if you dont have symptoms. Low blood sugar can be dangerous and should be treated as soon as possible.
Recommended Blood Sugar Targets
For people with type 1 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends that blood sugar targets be based on a person’s needs and goals. Talk to your doctor and diabetes educator about these goals. A general guideline is:
Before meals, your blood sugar should be:
- From 90 to 130 mg/dL for adults
- From 90 to 130 mg/dL for children, 13 to 19 years old
- From 90 to 180 mg/dL for children, 6 to 12 years old
- From 100 to 180 mg/dL for children under 6 years old
After meals , your blood sugar should be:
- Less than 180 mg/dL for adults
At bedtime, your blood sugar should be:
- From 90 to 150 mg/dL for adults
- From 90 to 150 mg/dL for children, 13 to 19 years old
- From 100 to 180 mg/dL for children, 6 to 12 years old
- From 110 to 200 mg/dL for children under 6 years old
For people with type 2 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association also recommends that blood sugar targets be individualized. Talk to your doctor and diabetes educator about your goals.
In general, before meals, your blood sugar should be:
- From 70 to 130 mg/dL for adults
After meals , your blood sugar should be:
- Less than 180 mg/dL for adults
Exercise And Blood Sugar
Exercise can have a big effect on your blood sugar levels because blood sugar is used for energy. When you use your muscles, your cells absorb sugar from the blood for energy.
Depending on the intensity or duration of exercise, physical activity can help lower your blood sugar for many hours after you stop moving.
If you exercise regularly, the cells in your body may be more sensitive to insulin. This will help keep blood sugar levels within normal ranges.
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What Is The Normal Blood Sugar Level
Blood sugar level means the amount of glucose dissolved in the blood at any given time. It is an important indicator which shows the bodys overall metabolic condition. The normal range of blood sugar is from 3.5 mmol/L to 6.1 mmol/L during fasting and less than 7 mmol/L after having a meal.
If your blood sugar is higher than the normal range, it could be a sign of Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes is the name of the condition where the body cannot properly process and absorb the glucose taken during eating, causing it to remain in the bloodstream. This can lead to many serious complications like nerve damage and loss of vision.
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What Happens If My Blood Glucose Level Becomes Too Low
Sometimes blood glucose levels drop below where they should be, which is called hypoglycemia. For most people with diabetes, the blood glucose level is too low when it is below 70 mg/dL.
Hypoglycemia can be life threatening and needs to be treated right away. Learn more about how to recognize and treat hypoglycemia.
What Abnormal Results Mean
If you had a fasting blood glucose test:
- A level of 100 to 125 mg/dL means you have impaired fasting glucose, a type of prediabetes. This increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- A level of 126 mg/dL or higher usually means you have diabetes.
If you had a random blood glucose test:
- A level of 200 mg/dL or higher often means you have diabetes.
- Your provider will order a fasting blood glucose, A1C test glucose tolerance test , depending on your random blood glucose test result.
- In someone who has diabetes, an abnormal result on the random blood glucose test may mean that the diabetes is not well controlled.
Other medical problems can also cause a higher-than-normal blood glucose level, including:
- Overactive thyroid gland
- Swelling and inflammation of the pancreas ( pancreatitis
- Stress due to trauma, stroke, heart attack, or surgery
- Rare tumors, including
- Weight loss after weight loss surgery
- Vigorous exercise
Some medicines can raise or lower your blood glucose level. Before having the test, tell your provider about all the medicines you are taking.
For some thin young women, a fasting blood sugar level below 70 mg/dL may be normal.
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What Is High Blood Sugar
A healthy human body thrives when blood sugar levels are generally between 70 to 130 mg/dL throughout the day. While everyone including non-diabetics will likely experience blood sugar levels above this range because of big meals, this is the general goal range.
With low blood sugars, theres one number for everyone that is considered low 70 mg/dL because dipping below this becomes dangerous for everyone. But high blood sugars are more complicated because being slightly above the goal ranges listed below doesnt equate to immediate danger and may actually be safer for some people based on other health conditions and their age.
According to the American Diabetes Asociation and the Mayo Clinic, optimal blood glucose levels are:
Blood sugar goals for a non-diabetic:
- Between 80 and 120 mg/dL for people age 59 and younger with no additional medical conditions
- Below 100 mg/dL when fasted
- Between 100 and 140 mg/dL for people age 60 and older if they have additional health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, etc.
Blood sugar goals for a person with type 1 or type 2 diabetes:
- Between 80 and 130 mg/dL fasted
- Less than 180 mg/dL within two hours after meals
High blood sugar levels become dangerous when:
- Youre high for a consistent period of time, even when you wake up in the morning
- Youre running above 180 mg/dL on a regular basis
- Youre running above 250 mg/dL on a regular basis very dangerous
Why You Shouldnt Lower Your A1c Too Quickly
It can be a good idea to approach lowering your A1c with a bit of caution. Just as crash dieting isnt healthy, there can be some serious health risks associated with lowering your A1c too quickly. I turned to Dr. Peters for an explanation:
If you lower your A1c too quickly, many bad things can happen. First, weight gain and total body swelling. Next, it can cause bleeding in the retina which can lead to blindness, and third, it can cause painful neuropathy that never goes away. Its slightly different for newly diagnosed patients, but, in general, no one should try to go from an A1c of 10% to 6% quickly. Take slow steps. Wanting to get to a low number very fast only causes harm. Diabetes is a long-term disease, so slow steps to establish new habits that can last a lifetime is the way to go. Anything too sudden and the body reacts badly.
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Make Physical Activity Part Of Your Daily Routine
Set a goal to be more physically active. Try to work up to 30 minutes or more of physical activity on most days of the week.
Brisk walking and swimming are good ways to move more. If you are not active now, ask your health care team about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you. Learn more about being physically active with diabetes.
Following your meal plan and being more active can help you stay at or get to a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese, work with your health care team to create a weight-loss plan that is right for you.
What Is A Normal Blood Sugar Level For Diabetics
A normal blood sugar level for diabetics is more difficult to define because it can vary greatly from person to person and is measured differently per age.
What’s important is that you work with your doctor to set goals that are achievable for you and that you maintain good blood sugar control as much as possible.
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When Things Go Awry
When we eat food, the pancreas goes to work, releasing enzymes that help to break down food and hormones that help the body handle the influx of glucose. One of these hormones is insulin, and it plays a key role in managing glucose levels in the blood.
And here is where things can go wrong. If the pancreas doesnt make enough insulin or stops making it altogether, in the case of type 1 diabetes glucose levels in the blood can rise too high. Another scenario is that the pancreas makes enough insulin but the cells have trouble using it properly, causing blood glucose levels to rise. This is called insulin resistance and is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes.
In the short term, high blood glucose levels can make you feel downright bad. Thirst, frequent trips to the bathroom, fatigue, and weight loss are all symptoms of high blood glucose . If not treated, more serious issues can occur, such as diabetic ketoacidosis . Chronic high blood glucose levels can lead to complications such as heart, kidney and eye disease, as well as nerve damage. So, its all about the blood glucose.
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, ½ ounce of peanuts or pistachios or other nuts, ½ cup of beans, or ½ 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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