About blood sugar

If you’re one of the millions of Americans living with diabetes, learning about blood sugar is a great first step to help you manage the disease.

How can I test my blood sugar?

You need both blood sugar self-tests and A1C tests because they measure blood sugar in different ways. Both of these tests will help you and your doctor set your blood sugar and A1C goal.

  • Self-tests show your blood sugar at the time of the test.
  • The A1C test shows a history of your blood sugar control over the past 2 to 3 months.
  • Ask your doctor when and how often you should self-test your blood sugar each day.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes have an individualized A1C goal. The goal for many adults with diabetes is less than 7%. However, a higher or lower goal may be best for you.

About 1 in 3 adults diagnosed with diabetes aren’t at their A1C goal. That’s why it’s so important for you to know your A1C and to work with your doctor to set and meet the goal that is right for you..

If you have type 2 diabetes, it’s important to learn about and manage both high and low blood sugar .

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  • High blood sugar (Hyperglycemia)

    High blood sugar, called hyperglycemia, is one of the defining characteristics of diabetes. When people are diagnosed with diabetes, it means their blood sugar has been high, usually for a long period of time. When that happens, you may have symptoms such as:

    • Feeling thirsty
    • Having to use the bathroom to urinate more often
    • Feeling hungry or eating more
    • Losing weight without trying
    • Blurred vision

    Here are some things that can cause high blood sugar:

    • Eating more than usual
    • Being less active
    • Stress from any illness, including cold or flu
    • Emotional stress, such as family conflicts

    What can happen if I have high blood sugar?

    In severe cases, you may need emergency treatment. Test your blood sugar right away if you think your blood sugar may be too high.

    Over time, high blood sugar can lead to:

    • Blindness
    • Heart disease
    • Kidney disease
    • Nerve problems
    • Stroke
    • Lower limb amputation

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    Low blood sugar (Hypoglycemia)

    You are likely aware of how important it is to control your high blood sugar, but you may not know that your blood sugar can also go too low, which is called hypoglycemia. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of both high and low blood sugar and talk to your doctor if you’re having any problems.

    Low blood sugar can make you feel:

    • Shaky
    • Dizzy
    • Sweaty
    • Faint
    • Hungry

    Here are some things that can cause low blood sugar:

    • Some diabetes medicines
    • Skipping meals
    • Exercising too much

    If you check your blood sugar and it is below 70mg/dL, or if you have any symptoms listed above, you’ll need a quick-acting source of sugar (such as fruit juice, hard candies, regular soda, or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey). If not treated, low blood sugar may cause you to have a seizure or pass out.

    Always tell your doctor if you have any symptoms of high or low blood sugar. You may need to make changes to your treatment plan, such as changing your diet, your diabetes medicine, or how much exercise you get.

    If you keep having low blood sugar episodes, you may develop a condition called hypoglycemia unawareness. This means you could still be experiencing hypoglycemia but without any of the symptoms. If you’re unsure, speak with your doctor.

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