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Blood Glucose Test: Levels and Ranges, Why You Should Care

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A blood glucose test (also called a blood sugar test or blood glucose meter) can help you monitor your diabetes and catch potential problems early.

By checking your blood sugar regularly, you can see how your diet and exercise routine are affecting your body’s ability to control blood sugar levels.

There are different types of glucose tests, so read on to learn more about why you should care about your blood glucose test levels and ranges.

What Is A Blood Glucose Test?

Blood glucose testing is an important part of diabetes management.

Blood sugar tests involve drawing blood from a vein in your arm with a needle (venipuncture) to measure how much glucose is in your blood.

The two types of blood glucose test results most people are familiar with are fasting glucose levels and postprandial levels.

Fasting indicates what your blood sugar was at rest before eating; postprandial measures after eating; both measures help establish a baseline to track against as needed.

A third type of result, A1C or hemoglobin A1c levels reflect average blood glucose over a three-month period.

Different factors such as age or pregnancy can impact test results so it’s important to discuss changes with your doctor or other healthcare provider if you find your numbers are abnormal for you.

What Are The Normal Blood Glucose Levels?

Blood glucose levels can vary greatly in different people.

Normal levels tend to depend on a person’s age, weight, height and gender.

For example, normal blood glucose ranges for women are higher than they are for men (one exception is during pregnancy).

In general, normal blood glucose values fall between 70 and 100 mg/dL after fasting overnight and under 140 mg/dL one or two hours after eating a meal.

How tightly blood sugar is controlled, in other words, how much it tends to fluctuate throughout the day also varies from person to person.

To help manage your diabetes well and prevent complications, strive to keep your A1C levels as close to normal as possible.

This helps give you an indication of whether your current treatment plan is working well enough.

For most adults with diabetes, A1C goals range from below 7 percent if you have no symptoms of chronic complications to below 6 percent if you do have such symptoms.

What Are High Blood Glucose Levels?

A blood glucose test is a simple way to monitor your body’s health.

If a doctor recommends that you monitor your blood glucose levels over time, it might be because of an underlying condition like diabetes or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Monitoring can help determine what’s causing abnormal fluctuations in your readings.

High blood glucose levels may lead to further complications so it’s important to keep them under control.

The good news is there are things you can do if your levels become too high.

3 Key Points About Blood Glucose Levels & Ranges: 

1) Normal fasting blood glucose ranges from 75 to 100 mg/dL; postprandial ranges from 85 to 140 mg/dL.

For reference, one teaspoon of sugar has about 15 grams of carbohydrates and 40 calories.

What does that mean? Too much sugar = bad news for your blood sugar levels.

That’s because excess sugar is broken down into glucose in your bloodstream, creating a surge in insulin production.

This temporary spike in insulin can send your blood glucose levels on a roller coaster ride.

2) When it comes to healthy eating, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to healthy blood sugar levels.

Incorporating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and legumes into your routine will help keep your body running smoothly while keeping those cravings at bay.

By slowing down your intake of simple carbohydrates like sweets, breads, soda pop and white rice/pastas you’ll lower your overall risk for developing Type II diabetes or high blood pressure.

The key here is balance avoiding processed foods that are packed with preservatives and additives but also keeping track of what you eat by keeping a food journal can help achieve that equilibrium for optimal health.

3)  Once diagnosed with a condition like diabetes or hypoglycemia it’s important to work with your healthcare provider to develop a treatment plan that will help keep your blood glucose levels within normal ranges.

Your doctor may recommend certain lifestyle changes such as eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day rather than three large meals.

Another option is supplementing your diet with insulin for people who have Type I Diabetes.

Very Low Blood Glucose Level Causes

Hypoglycemia means your blood glucose level is too low.

Low blood glucose levels can occur when there isn’t enough insulin or when insulin doesn’t work as it should.

Symptoms include sweating, shakiness and confusion. Your body uses stored glucose (sugar) to produce energy.

When your body has less than normal amounts of glucose, a condition called hypoglycemia occurs; symptoms include shaking hands, blurred vision and difficulty thinking clearly.

Normal blood glucose levels vary from person to person, but are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

Healthy adults should aim for between 70 mg/dL and 140 mg/dL. A healthy person without diabetes typically does not experience symptoms of hypoglycemia until his or her blood sugar falls below 60 mg/dL.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that most people with diabetes aim for an A1C level between 7 percent and 7.5 percent.

Low Blood Glucose Causes

If your blood glucose level falls below normal (70 to 100 mg/dL), it could be a sign of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

Low blood sugar may result from a missed meal, excessive exercise or alcohol consumption.

It can also be due to an underlying medical condition. Sometimes no cause can be found for low blood sugar, which is known as idiopathic hypoglycemia.

Severely low levels (30 mg/dL or less) require immediate treatment and are a medical emergency.

Hypoglycemia Symptoms – Signs To Watch Out For

Feeling shaky, lightheaded or dizzy : Your body releases sugar (glucose) into your bloodstream after you eat.

When your blood glucose is too low or too high, you may feel shaky, weak or lightheaded.

A sudden drop in blood glucose can also make you feel more tired than usual.

The symptoms of hypoglycemia usually happen fast, especially if your blood glucose levels are already low.

This type of hypoglycemia is called reactive hypoglycemia.

It happens when food takes longer to digest and absorb, so insulin levels rise to remove excess sugar from your bloodstream.

In most cases it resolves itself once your body has time to adjust.

The Easiest Way To Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

Eat a healthy diet with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy.

But if you’re looking for a simple way to test your glucose levels at home—or even just see what counts as normal when it comes to blood sugar—it’s not difficult to find products like glucose meters.

They can be expensive, though—and that’s not always warranted. 

If you’re concerned about elevated blood sugar, talk to your doctor first; he or she will have a better sense of how high is too high.

Once you know where you stand, there are ways to bring numbers down (you may want to get creative).

For example, try swapping out white breads and pastas for complex carbs—whole grain varieties (like quinoa or millet) offer fiber without major spikes in blood sugar because they break down slowly into glucose.

Quick Summary

The blood glucose test is a simple blood test that can be done to measure how much glucose is in your blood.

While it doesn’t directly measure how well your body metabolizes glucose into energy, doctors use it to track whether a patient has diabetes or pre-diabetes.

It’s usually performed as part of an annual physical exam.

Testing guidelines vary by age group, but people generally start being tested once they reach 45 years old (or earlier if there are risk factors).

Some health insurance plans cover these tests, while others don’t, it is important to call ahead to see what your policy offers and if it meets your needs.

References 

https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/managing-blood-sugar/a1c.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiopathic_hypoglycemia

https://support.omadahealth.com/hc/en-us/articles/360018669673-What-does-mg-dL-MG-DL-mean-What-if-my-glucose-meter-says-mmol-L-rather-than-mg-dL

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-answers/reactive-hypoglycemia/faq-20057778

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