Your diabetes management plan is most likely centered around monitoring blood sugar levels. If you’ve been recently diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you might be wondering what normal blood sugar levels are. Before beginning our discussion about what “normal” levels are, it’s important to remember that everybody is different and blood sugar levels can react to various factors in different ways.
While it can be helpful to know what other people’s target levels are, try not to compare yours to them. Comparing diabetes journeys is complicated, because everybody starts somewhere different and bodies can metabolize and utilize nutrients in different ways. The best way for you to know what your personal targets should be is by discussing it with your doctor. Medical professionals are skilled in formulating plans that will work specifically for their patient. So, if you think your current plan isn’t working, talk to your doctor about possible adjustments.
Target Blood Sugar Ranges
Blood sugar levels are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Your blood sugar reading is important in understanding how your body is regulating glucose and utilizing it to maintain your health.
When it comes to checking blood sugar, there are a couple of key times to do so. First, postprandial blood sugar levels, or the measurement taken two hours after a meal, is one of the most important readings to keep track of. This is one of the best ways to tell how your body is processing food. Second, fasting blood sugar, which can be found after a long period of not eating. While this time could occur during the day, most people find it best to take their fasting blood sugar levels after they’ve just woken up in the morning. This reading is the best way to tell how your body is regulating blood sugar without the affects of food.
Blood sugar target levels are typically wider for those with diabetes than for those without. After a meal, people with diabetes should aim for a blood sugar level of less than 180 mg/dL. Before meals, it’s best for your blood sugar to return to a more baseline level, which is typically within the range of 80-130 mg/dL. These numbers are slightly lower for those without diabetes since their body is able to handle blood sugar naturally, with a fasting blood sugar level of 72-99mg/dL and less than 140mg/dL after a meal (postprandial).
Hypoglycemia means that your blood sugar is low, most likely signaled by a blood sugar level at or below 70mg/dL. If your blood sugar is extremely low, you may be feeling hungry, tired and disoriented, as well as look pale and have an abnormal heartbeat. These symptoms can be alarming when they come unexpectedly if you don’t know what they mean, but there are quick solutions that can restore your blood sugar. If you experience hypoglycemia often, discuss with your doctor what steps you should take when your blood sugar is low. Eating specific foods or taking glucose tablets can help bring up your blood sugar and minimize some of the immediate symptoms.
Hyperglycemia is high blood sugar. For those with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, it means their body is not making enough or not efficiently using insulin. For those with type 1 diabetes, it means there is not enough insulin in the body to process glucose in the bloodstream.
When blood sugar is kept at a high level for long periods of time, the risk of long-term diabetes complications increase, so it is important to know blood sugar levels and how to intercede.
Symptoms of hyperglycemia include excessive thirst, increased urination, fatigue, and difficulty breathing.
If you’ve noticed that two hours after eating a meal your blood sugar is over 180mg/dL, you should talk to your doctor about why it’s not going down sooner. This may signal a need for change in your management. Being mindful about what you’re fueling your body with is one of the most important parts of diabetes management.
What Affects Blood Sugar Ranges?
Blood sugar levels will vary depending on a wide variety of factors. Some days may provide different results than others. However, if you feel that your blood sugar is varying too much or not reacting to food or medication the way you expect, you should bring that up with your doctor. One of the biggest factors in a target range is what medication, if any, the individual is taking. Some medications work to lower blood sugar more drastically and the time at which different prescriptions are administered can also change the aim for a target range.
Some people may find that their blood sugar is high in the morning. When testing in the morning, you should do so before eating any food. This way, you’re gaining an accurate picture of how your body has naturally regulated during the night. For those that find their levels are high, don’t be discouraged. This is a natural effect that can occur because your body is seeking to compensate for the lack of food.
Meals are generally the biggest factor to affect your blood sugar. It’s completely normal and healthy to see a jump in your blood sugar after a meal. However, your blood sugar levels should return to a normal point about two hours after your meal. The type of diabetes an individual has can also affect how food will impact their ranges.
Exercise will generally help lower blood sugar because it increases insulin sensitivity. As long as one has insulin, the body will use it more efficiently during physical activity and even for hours after.
Sometimes glucose readings can fluctuate or vary, but this does not mean that you’re doing something wrong. Go easy on yourself and continue to follow your meal plans and care routine, and if you find the changes are persistent, then you can take action and potentially make some changes.
Making Sure Your Glucose Meter is Accurate
Using a blood glucose meter that you trust is vital. Important decisions, such as taking additional insulin, may be made off of a single blood sugar test. Using a high-quality device will give you peace of mind and confidence in your results. Different brands manufacture glucometers in different ways. Test strips are often sold separately from meters, so it may be tempting to use different brands for test strips and meters. However, most of the time, if you stick a brand "A" strip in a brand "B" meter, it won't even turn on, so make sure the strips you use match the meter, or the test either won't work or won't give an accurate result.
Because the enzymes in test strips are sensitive to age and environmental factors, such as heat, cold, and humidity, making sure your test strips are accurate is an important part of blood sugar testing. Control solution is composed mostly of glucose and works together with the meter to ensure that your test strips are giving a reliable reading. Use control solution on the first test strip in every new bottle of strips to make sure the batch is accurate..
You should only ever use a glucose meter that produces accurate results. You can find accuracy statistics for most meter brands. While variance is possible, meters should be able to be relied upon. The FDA released guidelines for glucose meter accuracy, meaning that all meters which are approved by the FDA are within 15 percent of a “lab value” glucose reading 95 percent of the time, and within 20 percent 99 percent of the time.
Along with a quality glucose meter, ensuring that all your other supplies are working properly is important. Be mindful of expiration dates on your supply of test strips and other diabetes supplies. Supplies should never be used if they’ve passed their expiration date. For instance, test strips can lose their integrity and cannot be relied upon past the date set by the manufacturer.
How to Check Blood Sugar
When first beginning to check your blood sugar levels, the process may seem overwhelming. However, with practice and the proper technique, it will soon become second nature. There are certain steps that should be followed so that every testing experience is safe and reliable.
The first thing that should be done is to wash your hands with soap and dry thoroughly to make sure your blood draw (site) is clean. Once the lancet has been properly placed into the lancing device, prepare the meter by inserting the test strip and following the directions set by the manufacturer to operate the meter. Once all supplies are prepared, use the lancing device on the side of your fingertip and draw a small amount of blood. Apply the drop of blood to the top edge of the test strips. It will be absorbed into the strip and allow the meter to provide an accurate reading. Once you’ve finished checking, clean your hands once again and make sure that no hazardous material remains in the area.
A1c Tests and What They Tell You About Your Blood Sugar
A1c is one of the most important data measurements for diabetes management. A1c measures glycated hemoglobin in your system, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your other cells. Glucose in your blood attaches to hemoglobin, so if your blood sugar levels run high over time, more glucose will attach and show up in an HbA1c blood test. The American Diabetes Association recommends checking your A1c during your doctor visits every 3 to 6 months, as an HbA1c test can give a good idea of whether or not your current diabetes management plan is working optimally.
Tips For Treating Low Blood Sugar
The first and most important step is to check blood sugar so you can understand what level you need to treat.
If your blood sugar is in the 60s, eat 15g of fast-acting carbohydrate. A few examples include GlucoseSOS, a soda, some small pieces of candy, and fruit juice. Diathrive’s Glucose SOS powder is a powerful tool in stabilizing blood sugar levels. The powder doesn’t require any liquid and comes in a variety of flavors, so it’s easy and convenient to take on the go.
If your levels are even lower, or if you feel the symptoms of hypoglycemia strongly before testing (generally 55 mg/dL is considered urgent), consume fast-acting carbohydrates immediately and watch your levels closely and check again 15 minutes after consuming glucose.
Urgent lows are often treatable, but it may become necessary to call for emergency help or administer glucagon. Make sure to discuss emergency glucagon use with your doctor first so you can understand how and when to use it.
Tips for Treating High Blood Sugar
Treating high blood sugar begins proactively. Keeping a log of blood sugar readings can help you understand how specific foods affect your blood sugar. Every body can react differently to certain foods and some people will find specific foods that cause a spike. Other details can be included in this log, such as tracking movement and noting stressors experienced to get a big picture interpretation of what may be causing a spike. Recording what time medication was taken is another helpful piece of data which can be included in the log.
Routine is helpful in blood sugar management, so reflecting on your log will show what’s working and what might need to be changed.
For most people, managing diet will be one of the biggest factors in treating high blood sugar. Many foods, such as sugary foods and carbs, are known to cause blood sugar spikes. Learning how to manage these known triggers is an important component of maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
If you’ve been recently diagnosed and are questioning if you can still eat the foods you enjoy, know that there are alternatives available for many of your favorites that can help you reduce blood sugar spikes without feeling deprived of the foods you enjoy. Finding healthy recipes you enjoy is a rewarding way to take charge of your health.
Exercise is important in lowering blood sugar levels. When exercising, the body uses the sugar that has been kept in the body. In order to replenish the energy being used, glucose is taken from the blood with the help of insulin. While everyone should exercise in order to maintain health, those with type 2 diabetes should be especially mindful about incorporating movement into their daily routine. Because most people with type 2 diabetes do have natural insulin, exercise helps the body use it more efficiently.
Many people may not be able to lower their blood sugar naturally and can be put on medication that will help. Metformin is one of the most common diabetes medications, as it works to allow cells to use insulin more efficiently.
Most people are familiar with insulin and know that it allows glucose to be used by the body. Some people don’t produce insulin efficiently or may not naturally have enough. Insulin works to effectively lower blood sugar levels and is a common part of diabetes care plans.
How to Keep Your Blood Sugar Levels in a Healthy Range
By learning the signs and symptoms that can come from blood sugar changes, you can be sure you’re listening to your body and giving it the treatment it needs to function properly. But even if you’re not experiencing symptoms, you should still continue to test regularly and take steps to ensure your blood sugar is healthy.
You deserve to have a diabetes treatment plan that is effective. Working with your doctor will ensure that your test results are being taken into account when making decisions about future treatment. Affordable, practical diabetes management supplies are available. Investing in high-quality supplies will ensure that all testing results are accurate and reliable. Being able to trust your tools is essential in making informed decisions and relaying information to your doctor.
Diabetes can be incredibly impacted by your overall health. Many people may separate their diabetes from their other health issues, but it’s important to remember that the body’s systems are connected and influence each other. Because of this, taking steps to improve your health is an important part of diabetes management. Establishing a regular exercise routine can help you feel great and will contribute to keeping your blood sugar levels healthy.
Understanding what a healthy blood sugar range is for you, and learning how to manage blood sugar, is critical to managing your diabetes and taking control of your care plan. Remember to be proactive in trying to learn what affects your blood sugar levels, and what treatment methods and actions you can take that are appropriate for your specific situation.