About Blood Glucose

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

Know the Tests

You need both blood glucose self-tests and A1C tests to help you and your doctor understand your blood glucose control, because they measure blood glucose in different ways. Both of these tests will help you and your doctor set a goal that is right for you.

  • Self-tests show your blood glucose at the time of the test.
  • The A1C test shows a history of your blood glucose control over the past 2 to 3 months.

Ask your doctor about your A1C and blood glucose goals, including when and how often you should self-test your blood glucose each day. Diet, exercise and medicines (if prescribed by your doctor), can help control blood glucose levels and keep them in target range.

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 percent. A higher or lower goal may be appropriate for some people. You should speak with your doctor about what goal is right for you.

About one-third of 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 reach 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 glucose.

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  • High Blood Glucose (Hyperglycemia)

    High blood glucose, called hyperglycemia, is one of the defining characteristics of diabetes. When people are diagnosed with diabetes, it means their blood glucose has been high, usually for a long period of time. When blood glucose is too high, people with diabetes 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

    High blood glucose can be caused by the following:

    • Eating more than usual
    • Decreased physical activity
    • Stress from any illness, including cold or flu
    • Emotional stress, such as family conflicts

    Consequences of High Blood Glucose

    In severe cases, high blood glucose can require emergency treatment; therefore, it’s important to test your blood glucose right away if you think you are experiencing a high blood glucose episode. It’s also important to ask your diabetes healthcare team how often you should test your blood glucose to keep track of it between office visits.

    Complications of hyperglycemia (over time) include:

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

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    Low Blood Glucose (Hypoglycemia)

    Many people with diabetes are aware of the importance of controlling high blood glucose by diet, exercise and taking medicine (if prescribed), but they may not know that blood glucose can also go too low. This is known as hypoglycemia. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of both high and low blood glucose, and talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing any problems with high and low blood glucose.

    Hypoglycemia can make you feel:

    • Shaky
    • Dizzy
    • Sweaty
    • Faint
    • Hungry

    Hypoglycemia can be caused by:

    • Certain diabetes medicines
    • Skipping meals
    • Excessive exercise

    If you check your blood glucose, and it is below 70mg/dL, or if you have any symptoms of hypoglycemia, it’s important to get a quick-acting source of sugar (e.g., fruit juice, hard candies, regular soda, or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey).

    People with diabetes should be sure to tell their doctor if they experience any signs or symptoms of high blood glucose or low blood glucose. Changes to their meal plan, physical activity or diabetes medicine may need to be discussed.

    Consequences of Hypoglycemia

    If left untreated, hypoglycemia may lead to a seizure or loss of consciousness. Make sure your doctor explains the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia to you, and let him or her know if you’re experiencing any of those symptoms.

    If you frequently experience episodes of hypoglycemia, 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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