Blood Sugar Levels: What’s Normal What’s Not And How To Measure
What do blood glucose levels mean and what range is healthy? Here’s what you need to know.
Sugar can lead to high blood sugar and contributes to the development of diabetes.
We all want to keep track of our health in every way we can — you may weigh yourself, keep track of your blood pressure or monitor your resting heart rate. But how close of an eye do you keep on your blood sugar?
People with diabetes are all too familiar with their blood sugar levels, but the rest of us might not even think about it much. However, consistently high blood sugar levels 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. Without further ado, let’s get into what blood sugar means, how to measure it and everything else you need to know.
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Managing Diabetes Over Age 65
Hypoglycemia happens when your blood sugar levels are lower than normal. It is defined as a blood sugar level of lower than 70 mg/dL.
It is common among older adults with diabetes. This could be due to the fact that the elderly are more likely to have other chronic conditions, malnutrition, or take multiple medications.
Hypoglycemia can also result from taking too much of the medication used to lower blood sugar. Overtreatment of diabetes in older adults is common.
Researchers say hypoglycemia is likely underreported because the elderly may not experience the symptoms of low blood sugar or they may not be able to communicate their feelings to their caregivers due to cognitive impairment.
How Does Food Affect Blood Sugar Levels
Many factors, including exercise, stress, and illness, affect your blood sugar levels. That said, one of the largest factors is what you eat.
Of the three macronutrients carbs, protein, and fat carbs have the greatest effect on blood sugar. Thats because your body breaks down carbs into sugar, which enters your bloodstream.
This occurs with all digestible carbs, including refined sources like chips and cookies as well as whole, unprocessed sources like fruits and vegetables.
When people with diabetes eat foods high in carbs, their blood sugar levels can surge. High carb intake typically requires high doses of insulin or diabetes medication to manage blood sugar.
Given that people with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin, they need to inject insulin several times a day, regardless of what they eat. However, eating fewer carbs can significantly reduce their mealtime insulin dosage.
Your body breaks down certain carbs into sugar, which enters your bloodstream. People with diabetes who eat a lot of carbs require insulin or diabetes medication to keep their blood sugar from rising too much.
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Blood Sugar Levels Chart & Ranges
With the help of modern medicine and newly introduced at home treatments, common medical concerns such as blood sugar levels are now easier to manage than ever. The access to at home treatment and available sources has increased the ability to self-medicate and regularly check in with your health yourself.
There is still heightened concern for blood sugar levels due to the increase and ease of processed food and alcohol access across the world. But, with the right measures and plan, everyone can help avoid their blood sugar level from becoming abnormal.
According to the World Health Organisation , over 1.6 million deaths per year in America are due to diabetes. Fortunately, this figure can be decreased with the help of treatment and easy to manage at home testings.
Today, we will be discussing the top treatment methods, teaching you about blood sugar levels and how to manage them:
A Standard Blood Glucose Test
This requires you to fast before a blood test, so your PCP or endocrinologist can check the level of glucose in your bloodstream at any given time. Ideally, fasting glucose levels should be 99 mg/dL or lower. If your fasting blood glucose levels are between 100 and 125mg/dL, it could be considered prediabetes, says Martha McKittrick RD. I like to have people get a second test done, to make sure its accurate, she says. A reading higher than 126 mg/dL indicates diabetes.
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Work With Your Health Care Team
Most people with diabetes get health care from a primary care professional. Primary care professionals include internists, family physicians, and pediatricians. Sometimes physician assistants and nurses with extra training, called nurse practitioners, provide primary care. You also will need to see other care professionals from time to time. A team of health care professionals can help you improve your diabetes self-care. Remember, you are the most important member of your health care team.
Besides a primary care professional, your health care team may include
- an endocrinologist for more specialized diabetes care
- a registered dietitian, also called a nutritionist
- a nurse
What Should I Do After I Check My Blood Glucose
Write the blood glucose number in a log book or on a log sheet , and:
- Include all of your blood glucose numbers.
- Write a comment if there is a reason the blood glucose is above or below target.
- Take your blood glucose meter with you when you are away from home.
- Know your blood glucose numbers when you call the clinic or the doctor.
- Bring your blood glucose meter and blood glucose records to all your appointments.
- Bring a list of any questions that you may have.
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You Have Kidney Disease Or Related Disorders
Those who suffer from kidney disease can find it more challenging to rely on the efficiency of A1C tests. They often see high A1C results, according to a report by DaVita Inc., that may not always be accurate. This is because kidney disease can cause complications like anemia and malnutrition. This, in turn, affects the results of an A1C test. With both diabetes and kidney disease, it can be more challenging to get accurate results.
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How Can I Tell If My Blood Sugar Is Irregular
Again, only a doctor can diagnose a problem with your blood sugar. But you may be wondering how to know if it’s something you should get checked out. There can be two main issues with your blood sugar — either it’s consistently too high or too low. Even if you don’t have diabetes, there are some signs that your blood sugar levels are not functioning normally.
Hypoglycemia is a condition in which your blood sugar is too low. Signs include an irregular heartbeat, fatigue, shakiness and tingling or numbness in your face. If you consistently feel this way when you get hungry or between meals, talk to your healthcare provider.
On the flipside, hyperglycemia happens when your blood sugar is too high, and can happen to nondiabetics. Symptoms include frequent urination, increased thirst and headache. If you think you’re hyperglycemic and can’t keep fluids or food down, call for emergency medical assistance.
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Now That Youre Checking Your Blood Glucose What Do The Numbers Mean
Depending on your diabetes treatment plan, your doctor or diabetes educator may advise you to check once a week, once a day or up to 10 times a day . But what does it mean when you see a 67, 101 or 350 on your meter? And what is a normal blood sugar, anyway? Great questions! After all, if you dont know what the numbers on your meter mean, its hard to know how youre doing.
The American Diabetes Association provides guidelines for blood glucose goals for people with diabetes, and the goals vary depending on when youre checking your glucose:
Fasting and before meals: 80130 mg/dl
Postprandial : Less than 180 mg/dl
By the way, these guidelines are for non-pregnant adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Children, adolescents and pregnant women may have different goals.
Your blood glucose goals may be different, however. If youre younger, have had diabetes for a shorter amount of time or are not taking any medicine for your diabetes, your glucose goals might be a little tighter, or lower. Likewise, your blood glucose goals may be higher than what ADA recommends if youre older, have diabetes complications, or dont get symptoms when your blood glucose is low.
Bottom line: talk with your health-care provider about the following:
When to check your blood glucose How often to check your blood glucose What your blood glucose goals are
Normal And Diabetic Blood Sugar Ranges
For the majority of healthy individuals, normal blood sugar levels are as follows:
- Between 4.0 to 5.4 mmol/L when fasting
- Up to 7.8 mmol/L 2 hours after eating
For people with diabetes, blood sugar level targets are as follows:
- Before meals : 4 to 7 mmol/L for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes
- After meals : under 9 mmol/L for people with type 1 diabetes and under 8.5mmol/L for people with type 2 diabetes
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What Is Blood Glucose Anyway
Blood glucose, or sugar, is sugar that is in your blood . It comes from the food that you eat foods that contain carbohydrate, such as bread, pasta and fruit are the main contributors to blood glucose. The cells in our bodies need glucose for energy and we all need energy to move, think, learn and breathe. The brain, which is the command center, uses about half of all the energy from glucose in the body.
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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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.
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.
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Check Your Blood Sugar Levels Before Sleeping
Checking your blood sugar levels before sleeping is a good idea to make sure you’re not going low. If you are using a glucose meter try to avoid going to bed with hypoglycemia. If you have a continuous glucose monitor make sure you review the
It might take some practice but eventually, this routine could become natural and we’ll be able to have an accurate representation of what our body needs without having to even think about it.
If any numbers seem high at all – don’t hesitate check with your doctor as soon as possible so they can help you figure out how best to get them under control. We want those numbers right where they should be!
How To Do A Finger
Your healthcare team will show you how to do it the first time, but these are the key steps:
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Dont use wet wipes as the glycerine in them can affect the test result. Make sure your hands are warm so its easier to get blood and wont hurt as much.
- Take a test strip and slot it into the meter to turn it on. Some meters will have tests strips built in.
- Remove the cap from your finger prick device and put in a new lancet. Then put the cap back on and set the device by pulling or clicking the plunger.
- Choose which finger to prick but avoid your thumb or index finger . And dont prick the middle, or too close to a nail. Place the device against the side of your finger and press the plunger. Use a different finger each time and a different area.
- Take your meter with the test strip and hold it against the drop of blood. Itll tell you if the test strip is filled, usually by beeping.
- Before you look at your reading, check your finger. Use a tissue to stop bleeding, then use it to take out the lancet and throw it away in your sharps bin.
- You can use the same tissue to take out the test strip and throw that away too. Taking out the strip will usually turn the meter off.
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Fasting Blood Glucose Level Test Preparation
What should you do if your doctor orders a fasting blood sugar test? The preparation is the same as when you take a fasting test for cholesterol. First, be sure to find out if you need to schedule an appointment for your test . Ask your doctor what time is best to take it.
- Schedule your test if necessary
- Ask your doctor if you need to change any of the medications you take on the morning of the test
- If you normally drink coffee or have caffeine, ask your doctor if that is okay. It may not be, since it affects blood sugar levels
- Fast for at least 8 hours before your test. Usually, an overnight fast is most convenient
- You can drink water
Symptoms Of Blood Blood Sugar Levels
Symptoms of blood sugar levels differ depending on if it is high or low. To determine which way the blood sugar have moved, the symptoms for each are typically:
|High Blood Sugar Symptoms|
|Slow healing wounds||Turning pale|
If symptoms are left untreated, more extreme circumstances can happen such as fainting, weakness, disorientation, vomiting and dehydration. When you notice symptoms, usually more than one at one time, it is advised to see a doctor right away.
It is important to get the right treatment so that you can return to a healthy normal blood sugar level and inhibit it from occurring again.
Treatment methods vary from the severity of the blood sugar level, whether it is high or low and if the patient has existing medical conditions, such as diabetes. Here are ways in which blood sugar levels can be treated:
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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 Else Can I Do To Help Manage My Blood Sugar Levels
- Keep track of your blood sugar levels to see what makes them go up or down.
- Eat at regular times, and dont skip meals.
- Choose foods lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt.
- Track your food, drink, and physical activity.
- Drink water instead of juice or soda.
- Limit alcoholic drinks.
- For a sweet treat, choose fruit.
- Control your food portions .
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