Helping you understand “normal” blood sugar levels

Helping you understand “normal” blood sugar levels

Monitoring your blood sugar is a key part of diabetes management. Whether these glucose levels are checked with a finger scanner or a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is an important part of daily life with this condition, as well as the possibility of future diabetes-related complications.

But what is considered “normal” when it comes to blood sugar levels?

Diabetes is different for everyone, which means that target goals vary for each person and those goals depend on many different factors. While this is an area to consult with your diabetes care team, the medical community has advice on what some people should be looking for when it comes to blood sugar levels.

There is no magic number for your blood sugar. However, many people with diabetes strive to keep their blood sugar levels below 140 mg/dL on average.

Many authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) — explain glucose levels and what people with diabetes should strive for, high. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) 2022 Standards are a set of guidelines followed by many professionals in the field of diabetes. This table details goals for specific groups of people with diabetes.

It is important to note that the ADA changed its glucose level guidelines in 2015 to reflect a shift in thinking about issues of overtreatment and hypoglycemia. The lowest target was 70 mg/dL. Always a study at the time determined that adults, children, and older people may be more prone to over-treatment, particularly if they use varying doses of insulin or glucose-lowering medications.

As with all aspects of diabetes management, these guidelines are used as a starting point by the medical community. Individual goals may vary depending on your personal needs. Be sure to consult with your doctor and diabetes care team to determine what is best for you.

A key part of managing diabetes is checking blood sugar or glucose levels.

In type 1 diabetes (T1D), a person’s pancreas does not produce the insulin it needs. In type 2 diabetes (T2D), the body may no longer make or use insulin properly.

Whether for T1D or T2D, the goal is to ensure that glucose levels remain as stable as possible. Sometimes insulin or diabetes medications are used depending on the type of diabetes and personal needs. Many factors affect glucose levels, including food, exercise, insulin, medications, stress, etc.

Glucose targets may vary for everyone based on their unique needs.

Achieving a “normal” blood sugar or glucose level is a bit of a misnomer. Often, the word “normal” is used to refer to what a person’s blood sugar level might be if they did not have diabetes.

However, this terminology is incorrect because even people without diabetes see blood sugar spikes, especially after eating and when consuming something with high amounts of sugar or a complex carbohydrate like pizza or pasta.

Even though that person’s body will immediately begin to counterbalance this rise in glucose levels by producing more insulin, their blood sugar levels may still rise for a brief period, even beyond these “normal” ranges. The same can happen with strenuous exercise or in high stress situations if the person’s natural glucose metabolism cannot bring everything into balance quickly.

For people with diabetes, the fact that our bodies don’t make or use insulin properly means we have to manually monitor blood sugar and take enough insulin – or blood sugar-lowering medication – to balance everything out.

A1C measures your average blood sugar over the past 3 months.

You can have your A1C measured by blood test in your doctor’s office or laboratory. Some doctors may also perform a finger blood test to check your A1C levels.

When sugar enters your bloodstream, it binds to a protein called hemoglobin. People with high blood sugar have a higher percentage of sugar-coated hemoglobin protein. Your A1C result will give you an indication of the percentage of your hemoglobin bound to sugar.

  • Standard (no diabetes): Less than 5.7%
  • Prediabetes: 5.7% to 6.5%
  • Diabetes: 6.5% or more

In general, the ADA and other clinical guidelines for people with diabetes state that you should work closely with your diabetes care team to determine what is best for your A1C goal. Generally, clinicians advise for an A1C to be safely 7.0%, although this may vary depending on the individual care plan.

It’s important to keep in mind that A1C levels don’t reflect all the nuances of diabetes management, which means they don’t always reflect the variability in your blood sugar, which means that A1C does not offer information about high or low blood sugar levels, and it can be manipulated if your blood sugar fluctuates regularly.

A1C is not the same as your average blood sugar, which can be displayed on a finger scanner or your continuous glucose meter (CGM). This is because A1C is limited in range and does not reflect your high and low blood sugar levels, or any glucose variability if you have dramatic spikes or drops in blood sugar.

As a result, many diabetes professionals have moved away from viewing A1C as the only “gold standard” for managing a person’s diabetes. Instead, they use this A1C in addition to time-in-range (TIR) ​​numbers, indicating how often your glucose levels fall within your individualized target range.

Glucose management is an important part of diabetes management. There is no magic number for “normal” glucose or blood sugar levels. Although there are clinical guidelines on target goals for blood sugar levels and A1C tests, it is important to remember that “Your Diabetes May Vary”.

You should consult with your endocrinologist and diabetes care team to best determine your blood sugar goals, based on your personal care plan. More advanced diabetes technology like a CGM can also be a point of discussion with your doctor to achieve ideal glucose levels and a healthy time in range.

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