Normal Blood Sugar Levels – What Are They?
The importance of normal blood sugar levels is related to the prevention of the complications of diabetes. If your blood sugar (glucose) level is not within the ideal or normal blood glucose range you can begin to experience short-term and long-term problems.
Short-term problems include high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Long-term problems include blindness, kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, impotence, nerve disease and loss of limbs. Nerve disease can affect the feet and legs as numbness, pain or a burning, tingling sensation. Loss of limbs is the result when amputations are needed because of poor circulation, infection or nerve disease.
Normal blood sugar levels depend on when the test was taken. A fasting normal blood glucose level is taken from a person who has not eaten for 8-12 hours. A person who does not have diabetes will have a normal fasting blood glucose level somewhere between 70 and 100 mg/dL. The goal for people with diabetes for a fasting blood glucose level is less than 110 mg/dL or in some cases 120 mg/dL. This is also the goal for normal blood sugar levels just prior to meals.
Blood sugar levels after meals, specifically 2 hours after one starts eating (2 hour postprandial blood glucose level), are less than 140 mg/dL in a person who is not diabetic. Poorly controlled diabetics will often have higher 2 hour postprandial (after meal) blood sugar levels depending upon how much carbohydrate they have consumed, how much insulin they are producing and how responsive their insulin is to the carbohydrate consumed. Other diabetic medications they may be taking and the effectiveness of that medication regimen are also an important factor in controlling blood glucose levels. Your health care team will help you set the blood glucose target range that is right for you. These guidelines apply to many people. Your target range may be higher or lower than these guidelines.
Another test your doctor may run is hemoglobin A1C (Hgb A1C) or sometimes just referred to as A1C. Hemoglobin A1C results give a number followed by a % sign. The test results of a person who is not diabetic will be less than 6%. Good control for a diabetic is often less than 6% as well. The initial goal for a diabetic person is to lower hemoglobin A1C to between 6 and 7%.
Hemoglobin A1C gives a 2 to 3 month perspective of what your blood glucose or blood glucose has been. It basically gives a 2 to 3 month blood glucose average. It gives it in a percentage based upon how many sugar molecules attach to the hemoglobin molecules (2 to 3 month life) in your red blood cells. That percentage then equates to blood glucose ranges. For instance, an A1C level of 6% is equal to a daily glucose testing average between 115 and 150 mg/dL, an A1C level of 7% equates to a daily glucose testing average of 150-180 mg/dL.
In summary, in a person who is not diabetic normal blood sugar levels are considered to be less than 100 mg/dL fasting or before a meal and less than 140 mg/dL 2 hours after the start of a meal. Blood glucose levels of diabetics can run too high causing short-term problems like hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. Long-term complications can be serious and include blindness and kidney, heart and nerve disease.
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