What is blood glucose?
Your blood glucose is just another name for the sugar in your blood stream. When you have a blood test, whether it’s in a lab, at the doctor’s office, or at home with a home test kit (by either pricking your fingertip or by using an alternate site such as your forearm), the resulting number will tell you how high or low your glucose numbers are in your blood stream.
What should your blood glucose number be?
People who have diabetes don’t have “normal” blood sugar numbers. This number can vary from 60 to 90, depending on the person. 70 to 80 is probably the number range for the vast majority of people who do not have diabetes. Since every person is different, you should ask your doctor what your personal number is — or what it should be.
For a general guide, a fasting blood sugar number of between 100 and 125 is considered by many to indicate PreDiabetes. When you are an adult, if your fasting number is 126 or above then you most likely have been diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes.
What do your numbers mean to you?
When you have type 2 diabetes, your glucose (blood sugar) levels are “off.” They aren’t normal. When you are diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor will tell you what your numbers should be — what the ideal range is for you — what numbers you should want to have. These numbers will probably not be the same as they would be for a person who does not have diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association suggests these blood sugar goals for adults with diabetes:
Fasting/Before Mealtime Goals: 70 to 130
Post-Meal Goals (2 hours after starting to eat): Under 180
But every person is different and you should always talk to your doctor to find out what number range is best for you.
For instance, my doctor told me that I should try to keep my blood sugar numbers between 70 and 140. That’s my personal “ideal range.” Unfortunately, I’m an absolute yo-yo when it comes to my numbers. I’ve dropped as low as 33 and been over 300 — sometimes in the same day!
This is horrible for my body and my frustration with my fluctuating numbers has left me more than once in a state of complete “mental meltdown” — just like these candles that were left in our unoccupied trailer in Arizona one summer. I assume they were having a “sympathy” meltdown for me.
What is an A1C?
Your A1C (also known as HbA1C) is a blood test that shows what your blood sugar levels have been in your body over the past 2 or 3 months. When you test your own blood sugar levels at home, you control when you are testing so you can (to a certain extent) control what those tests look like. (If you always do a fasting test or a test at least 2 hours after you have eaten, for example, your numbers will normally be lower than if you test during a meal or just after eating.)
But you can’t cheat on an A1C, because it reveals how much glucose (sugar) is attached to your red blood cells. The longer your glucose levels have remained high, the more glucose will be attached to your red blood cells. (This high blood glucose raises the risks of diabetes-related complications.)
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends aiming for an A1C % of around 7.0. Here’s a chart that a friend of mine shared with me when I was first trying to figure out what the heck my A1C meant.
Obviously, my doctor wants me to be under 7.0. I’m working on it. But have yet to succeed. For me, this has been a total <FAIL,> so far. I mean, I’m still trying to just get down to the ADA’s recommended number!
And getting your numbers down is really important, because reducing your A1C by just one full percent (from 8.4 to 7.4, for instance) may reduce your risk of contracting diabetes-related complications. And you do NOT want those complications! (For more information on diabetes complications see my post, The Silent Killer.)
When I first contracted diabetes, I had no clue what a “good” diabetes number was, so I figured, “Why test? I don’t know what it means, anyhow!” And because I have a real problem with needles of any kind (except the ones I use when sewing), the first few years I had diabetes, I tested only once or sometimes just twice a YEAR. That was it. I didn’t know how important it was to test. (And frankly, at that point, I didn’t really care!)
Finally, I “got it.” It’s not possible to track your diabetes and know what’s going on inside your body unless you test, and test regularly. Ask your doctor how many times and at what times of the day you should be testing.
Then set an alarm, or whatever it takes so you remember to test at those times. It might be first thing in the morning (a fasting test) or later in the day, either just before or two hours after you eat.
You might only need to test one or two times a day, or your doctor might want you to test as many as five or six or even more times a day. It depends on YOU and on your diabetes and your doctor is the one who will let you know what you need to do to keep your diabetes under control.
It’s my fervent hope that this post has helped you to understand your blood sugar numbers a little bit better, so you won’t make the same mistake I did of not testing regularly. It’s SO important for your health.
Your health affects everything in your entire life – how you feel, the things you can (and can’t) do, whether you are in pain (or not), how mobile you are (or aren’t). It affects you every single day of your life.
And no one – absolutely NO ONE – is going to take care of you like you can. It’s up to you. Make up your mind to test regularly, every day, beginning today so you will know what your blood glucose levels are — so you can take care of yourself in the best possible way.
Until next time…