My Perspective On A1c As A Person Living With Diabetes
I have a very ambivalent relationship with my A1c myself. Ive been living with type 1 diabetes for over 20 years, and my A1c is not something I think about in my daily life. However, every three months when I see my endo, I get a little anxious because receiving your A1c can feel a lot like getting your diabetes report card.
And, quite honestly, thats really silly. My A1c number doesnt reflect whats been going on in my life for the last three months. It doesnt tell me how much effort Ive put into managing my diabetes and it does not define me as a person. Its a good source of information, nothing more.
Still, we tend to look at it and judge, good or bad, how weve done with our diabetes management. But we really shouldnt!
That doesnt mean that I think we shouldnt get our A1c checked. I absolutely think we should, but we also need to understand what it means as well as why we should look beyond the A1c number. I hope this guide has given you the knowledge and tools to do so!
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How To Lower Your A1c: The Complete Guide
We are always told that having a low A1c is an important goal in our diabetes management, but do you know why? Do you know what a good A1c target is, how to lower your A1c, and how quickly you can lower your A1c safely?
These are the questions I will answer in this comprehensive guide on what A1c is, how to lower your A1c, and why achieving a low A1c isnt the only goal when it comes to diabetes management.
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What Is The Hba1c Test
Your HbA1c also known as A1c is a blood test that measures the amount of leftover glucose that have accumulated in your bloodstream during the prior 3 months. The higher your A1c is, the more damage is occurring to your bodys nerve endings and blood vessels in areas like your eyes, your fingers, and toes, and your kidneys.
The higher your blood sugars are each day, the higher your next A1c result will be!
What To Do If Fasting Blood Sugar Level Is High
- Avoid sweet snacks late at night. If you have diabetes and your fasting sugar levels continue to rise at night, you may need to change your meal plan.
- Lower your blood sugar before going to bed. High glucose levels in the morning can be caused by high glucose levels at bedtime.
- Change your insulin schedule.
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When Things Go Awry
When we eat food, the pancreas goes to work, releasing enzymes that help to break down food and hormones that help the body handle the influx of glucose. One of these hormones is insulin, and it plays a key role in managing glucose levels in the blood.
And here is where things can go wrong. If the pancreas doesnt make enough insulin or stops making it altogether, in the case of type 1 diabetes glucose levels in the blood can rise too high. Another scenario is that the pancreas makes enough insulin but the cells have trouble using it properly, causing blood glucose levels to rise. This is called insulin resistance and is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes.
In the short term, high blood glucose levels can make you feel downright bad. Thirst, frequent trips to the bathroom, fatigue and weight loss are all symptoms of high blood glucose . If not treated, more serious issues can occur, such as diabetic ketoacidosis. Chronic high blood glucose levels can lead to complications such as heart, kidney and eye disease, as well as nerve damage. So, its all about the blood glucose.
High Blood Sugar Level Causes
Several types of diabetes and medical conditions are the primary cause of high blood sugar levels. Most of which are unpreventable issues but are the reason for a spike in high blood sugar. The causes for high blood sugar levels are as follows:
Causes of low blood sugar levels are very different and are as important to be aware of, as they are in fact easier to control.
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Translating Your A1c To A Blood Sugar Level
Using this easy calculator from the ADA, you can translate your most recent A1C result to an eAG or estimate average glucose level.
You can also use this translation when working to improve your A1c and achieving closer to normal blood sugar levels. If you know an A1c of 6.5 is an average blood sugar level of 126 mg/dL or a range of 100 to 152 mg/dL, then you can look at your current blood sugar results on your CGM and meter and pinpoint which time of day youre frequently higher than this range.12% = 298 mg/dL or range of 240 347 11% = 269 mg/dL or range of 217 31410% = 240 mg/dL or range of 193 2829% = 212 mg/dL or range of 170 2498% = 183 mg/dL or range of 147 2177% = 154 mg/dL or range of 123 1856% = 126 mg/dL or range of 100 1525% = 97 mg/dL or range of 76 120
Normal blood sugar levels in a person without diabetes can result in an A1c as low as 4.6 or 4.7 percent and as high as 5.6 percent.
Just a decade or two ago, it was rare for a person with type 1 diabetes to achieve an A1c result below 6 percent. Thanks to new and improved insulin and better technology like continuous glucose monitors and smarter insulin pumps, more people with diabetes are able to safely achieve A1c levels in the higher 5 percent range.
Why Your A1c Matters
In a nutshell: your A1c is one of the clearest indicators of your risk for developing diabetes complications like neuropathy , retinopathy , nephropathy , and severe infection in any part of your body that requires healing.
For instance, a small cut on your toe could become infected due to high blood sugars, struggle to heal, and become severe enough that the infection could lead to an amputation.
The general guidelines from the American Diabetes Association recommend an A1c at or below 7.0 percent for the best prevention of diabetes complications. Your risk of developing a diabetes complication continues to drop as your A1c drops closer to 6 percent.
Some people with diabetes aim for A1c levels in the 5s and lower especially those who follow strict low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet and the Bernstein diet. However, this hasnt been proven in research as especially necessary, nor is it reasonably achievable for the larger population of people with diabetes.
Its also important to remember that your blood sugar levels and your A1c are just information that tells you whether your body needs more or less of factors like insulin, other diabetes medications, changes in your nutrition, and changes in your exercise.
If you dont like the number youre seeing on your glucose meter or your A1c results, use that number as motivation to make changes in how you safely manage your diabetes in order to get different results.
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What Fruit Should Diabetics Avoid
Fruit is also an important source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, fruit can also be high in sugar. People with diabetes must keep a watchful eye on their sugar intake to avoid blood sugar spikes.Fruits high in carbohydrates.FoodCarb content1 serving of dried fruit20 g4 more rowsMar 29, 2021
How To Lower Morning Blood Sugar
I mean, it doesnt seem logical. After all, you havent eaten anything so it should be lower shouldnt it?
Its a common assumption and it would seem logical, but it is common for people with type 2 diabetes to have high blood sugar in the morning.
Because your body continues to produce glucose even when you dont eat. Its called gluconeogenesis.
This is a natural process for all of us. But in diabetes many people have increased gluconeogensis.
Another reason is that cortisol is the hormone that slowly increases in levels from around 3 am onwards to reach its peak early in the morning. Cortisol has a direct influence on blood sugar levels too elevating them.
Still, there are practical things you can do to lower morning blood sugar levels, heres how
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Smart Blood Sugar Plan
The Smart Blood Sugar System claims to be a 100% natural “powerful” system that uses a few simple diet changes to restore your metabolism and help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels for the rest of your life. Smart Blood Sugar is even formulated to immediately reduce the risk of diabetes without any medication or injections.
Why You Shouldnt Lower Your A1c Too Quickly
It can be a good idea to approach lowering your A1c with a bit of caution. Just as crash dieting isnt healthy, there can be some serious health risks associated with lowering your A1c too quickly. I turned to Dr. Peters for an explanation:
If you lower your A1c too quickly, many bad things can happen. First, weight gain and total body swelling. Next, it can cause bleeding in the retina which can lead to blindness, and third, it can cause painful neuropathy that never goes away. Its slightly different for newly diagnosed patients, but, in general, no one should try to go from an A1c of 10% to 6% quickly. Take slow steps. Wanting to get to a low number very fast only causes harm. Diabetes is a long-term disease, so slow steps to establish new habits that can last a lifetime is the way to go. Anything too sudden and the body reacts badly.
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What Does A Fasting Blood Sugar Of 135 Mean
What does a fasting blood sugar of 135 mean ? | Best Health Channel When your “normal” sugar level is not normal chris kresser. While I take a fasting blood sugar test, one taken when I have not eaten or drunk my 12 hour glucose levels from 115 135, I can maintain normal levels and I do not care what 16 2007 if you just test your sugar, I will let you know that the media needs to use each strip as efficiently as possible, see how the results of a1c correlate the average readings. In the mornings, blood sugar, 135 diabetes, daily diabetes, 3886, morning url? Q webcache. Here you will find information on why the blood sugar level is high in the morning, along with tips and resources to decrease those numbers! I am waking up my bs between 120 135. Mmol l) to 135 mg dl is normal? On good days, my blood glucose fasting and 2 hours the yogurt was simple, with that’s what Ro say without fruit, but tasted sweet there are many different occasions when you can taste your sugar. Fasting blood work must demonstrate glucose and insulin levels within the postprandial means afterContinue reading > >
Speak To Your Physician
Make sure you speak to your physician and healthcare team about making dietary and lifestyle changes.
And, if you think your morning levels are way too high, or no matter what you do you cant get them down, talk to your physician or health practitioner to see if you might need to alter your medication.
When it comes to lowering morning blood sugar levels, it really is a combination of things that can help.
Start with the apple cider vinegar and cheese before bed and see how that goes. Then, try working on all the other things in this list.
Give it some time and no doubt you will begin to see some great improvements.
Have you tried something else that worked? Have some comments youd like to add? Leave them below and lets chat about it.
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Still Frustrated With Your Blood Sugar And A1c Results
Your blood sugars and your insulin or medication needs never stay in one place. If you gain weight or lose weight, your insulin and medication needs will change. If you become more active or less active, your needs will change. If you make drastic or even small changes to your nutrition, your needs will change!
Working with your diabetes healthcare team, and diabetes coaches who can teach you how to make changes in your overall diabetes management plan are essential. Diabetes is a lifelong learning process.
Take a deep breath and be patient. If you dont like what youre seeing on your glucose meter, dont get madget studying! Take good notes and work with your team to make changes to reach your goals.
Read more about improving your A1c in DiabetesStrongs guide, How to Lower Your A1c.
If you liked this guide to normal blood sugar levels, please sign up for our newsletter using the form below. We send out a weekly newsletter with the latest posts and recipes from Diabetes Strong.
A Few Different Things Can Cause A Deficiency In Insulin
1. Sickness Stress hormones are produced in response to illness, infection, and dehydration, and stress hormones work against the action of insulin. When you are sick, your insulin doesnt work as well because its being impeded by the stress hormones.
When you are sick, you need to stay hydrated and may need as much as double your usual amount of insulin.
2. No insulin Forgetting to take insulin, especially basal insulin, will get you in trouble with ketones. Chronically missing or skipping mealtime insulin will also cause high blood sugar and lead to ketone development.
3. Spoiled insulin Insulin can spoil if it is exposed to temperature extremes or if it is too old. Know how long you can use your insulin once the pen or vial is opened, and discard it when it is at the end of its useful lifespan. Its also possible that you can become insulin deficient when your insulin is sitting in the tissues and not absorbing into the body where it can be used, so be methodical about rotating your sites.
What can cause this interruption? There are many points in the pipeline where things can go awry:
- Mal-absorption of insulin from the infusion site
- Tubing or infusion set clogs
- Leaking during a bolus improper connection between set and cannula OR a site that leaks around the cannula
- Spoiled insulin
- A leak where the cartridge connects to the tubing
- A dislodged cannula
There are 3 things you need to do
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What Should I Eat If My Sugar Is High
Here are seven foods that Powers says can help keep your blood sugar in check and make you happy and healthy to boot.Raw, Cooked, or Roasted Vegetables. These add color, flavor, and texture to a meal. Greens. Flavorful, Low-calorie Drinks. Melon or Berries. Whole-grain, Higher-fiber Foods. A Little Fat. Protein.Dec 1, 2015
What Is A Normal A1c
Now that you have your A1c number, lets look at what that number actually tells you. The American Diabetes Association has established the following guidelines:
This does NOT mean that you need an A1c of less than 5.7% if youre living with diabetes. It means that if you do NOT live with diabetes, your A1c is expected to be below 5.7%. There are different recommendations for what an appropriate A1c is for people living with diabetes.
I had a chance to asked Dr. Anne Peters, MD, Director, USC Clinical Diabetes Program and Professor of Clinical Medicine Keck School of Medicine of USC as well as Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE, owner and Clinical Director of Integrated Diabetes Services and author of Think Like a Pancreas, what their perspectives are on a good A1c target:
The A1c target should be whatever is best given the persons clinical situation. For athletes, too many lows can limit performance, for someone who is pregnant it should be < 6%, for an older person the target should be higher. I generally think an A1c target of 6.0 7.0% is ideal and data shows that going below 7% has fairly little impact on complications. Basically, Id rather see someone with an A1c of 6.9% and low blood sugar variability than an A1c of 6.2% with lots of variability
Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE:
To learn more about blood sugar levels, please read What are Normal Blood Sugar Levels.
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