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What Do Blood Sugar Levels Mean?

You have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and you are learning elevated blood sugar levels are a fact of life now.  Although you will always need to be aware of them, there is much you can do to keep these levels under control, in other words within a normal range.
First, let's establish what blood sugar levels are.  Blood glucose or blood sugars is the concentration of glucose in your bloodstream after you have eaten carbohydrates or foods that break down into sugar.  Your body realizes this and insulin is released and circulates along with your blood sugars.  Insulin acts as a key to opening channels that line your cells allowing sugar to exit your bloodstream and enter your cells.  The net effect of this  function is to:

  • lower your blood sugar levels
  • make sugar available for energy or for storage in your muscles
Normal Levels:    for the non-diabetic
  • before meals              ...   70 to 100 mg/dl (3.9 to 5.6 mmol/l)
  • 2 hours after meals    ...   85 mg/dl (4.7 mmol/l)
  • HbA1c                        ...   4.3% to 5.4%
  • Fasting BSL's             ...   85 mg/dl (4.7 mmol/l)
Normal Levels:    for the type 2 diabetic
  • before meals              ...   70 to 130 mg/dl (3.9 to 7.2 mmol/l)
  • 2 hours after meals    ...   under 180 mg/dl (10 mmol/l)
  • HbA1C result             ...    7%
  • fasting BSL's              ...   under 130 mg/dl           
Several types of blood glucose tests are used:
1.  Fasting blood sugar (FBS) testing is used to measure blood glucose after you have not eaten for a period of eight hours (often overnight).  It is usually the first test performed if type 2 diabetes is suspected.
2. Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is the most definitive test for type 2 diabetes and is also used to diagnose gestational diabetes.  Following eight hours of fasting, usually overnight, you are given a solution to drink which contains 75 grams of glucose.  Blood will be drawn before, during and after the two hours period of this test.  A result greater than or equal to 200 mg/dl (11.1 mmol/l) is indicative of diabetes .
3.  Random blood sugar (RBS) is used to measure your blood sugars no matter when you last ate.  Sometimes several random measurements may be taken throughout the same day.  It is a very informative test where diabetes is concerned because healthy people have little variance in their blood sugar level throughout the entire day.
4.  HbA1C testing is used to monitor blood glucose control over the past 60 to 90 days and is one of the best ways to check your diabetes is under control.  It is not the same as the blood glucose level and is not used to diagnose  diabetes.  Although the number for good control is said to be 7%, which is equal to 117 mg/dl(6.5 mmol/l) self monitoring before meals, the lower your HbA1c level the lower your risk of developing complications.  A normal level is between 4% and 5%.  People with diabetes usually have a level ranging from 6% to as high as 15%.
Blood glucose tests are carried out to confirm the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and also to monitor your treatment.
If you have not been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and suspect you have symptoms, the American Diabetes Association now recommends your health care provider order a two hour oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). You will be diagnosed as having diabetes if your blood sugar levels go over over 200 mg/dl (11mmol/l) at any one time.
If you would like to understand type 2 diabetes a little more, click here now to download my free E-Book: Answers to Your Questions
Beverleigh Piepers is a registered nurse who would like to help you understand how to live easily and happily with your Type 2 Diabetes.


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