What Does Normal Blood Sugar Look Like
First, a quick note on how we measure blood sugar. In the USA, blood sugars are measured by weight in milligrams per deciliter, abbreviated as mg/dL. Most everyone else uses millimoles per liter, abbreviated mmol/L. If you are in the USA, look at the big numbers. Most everyone else should look at the small numbers.
In a person without diabetes, blood sugars tend to stay mostly between 70 and 100 mg/dL . After a meal, and depending on the composition of the meal, blood sugars can rise up to 120-140 mg/dL or 6.7-7.8 mmol/L. It will typically fall back into the normal range within two hours.
These are normal blood sugars in someone without diabetes. Source: Thriving with Diabetes
Blood Sugar Levels At Night
It’s also important to check your blood sugar before bedtime. According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, your before-bed blood sugar should be between 90 and 150 mg/dL. If your level is lower than this, you may need to have a small snack to prevent your blood sugar from falling too low overnight.
If you notice that your morning blood sugar levels are high, it may be due to something called the Somogyi effect, according to the Cleveland Clinic. This phenomenon occurs when blood sugar levels drop too low overnight, prompting the liver to release stored glucose to “rescue” you. If your doctor suspects that you are experiencing the Somogyi effect, he or she may ask you to check your blood sugar between 2 and 3 a.m. for several nights in a row. If your overnight sugars are indeed too low, your doctor will help you come up with a plan to manage the situation.
Read more:How to Quickly Reverse a Sugar Crash
Check Your Blood Sugar Often
Checking your blood sugar levels often and writing down, or using an app to track the results will tell you how well you are managing your diabetes. Talk to your doctor and diabetes educator about how often you should check your blood sugar.
- Not everyone with diabetes needs to check their blood sugar every day. But some people may need to check it many times a day.
- If you have type 1 diabetes, check your blood sugar at least 4 times a day.
Usually, you will test your blood sugar before meals and at bedtime. You may also check your blood sugar:
- After you eat out, particularly if you have eaten foods you don’t normally eat
- If you feel sick
- Before and after you exercise
- If you have a lot of stress
- If you eat too much
- If you are taking new medicines that can affect your blood sugar
Keep a record for yourself and your provider. This will be a big help if you are having problems managing your diabetes. It will also tell you what works and what doesn’t work, to keep your blood sugar under control. Write down:
- The time of day
- The amount of carbohydrates or sugar you ate
- The type and dose of your diabetes medicines or insulin
- The type of exercise you do and for how long
- Any unusual events, such as feeling stressed, eating different foods, or being sick
Many glucose meters let you store this information.
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What Does The Fasting Blood Sugar Test Really Tell You
Fasting blood glucose measures the amount of glucose in your blood to test for diabetes or prediabetes.
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Ways To Lower Your Glucose
As you learn more about the way food, combinations of foods, amounts of food, sleep, stress, meal timing, exercise, and more impact your glucose, youâll inevitably experience glucose spikes. Again, it can be completely normal to have high glucose spikes! But as you start to see what foods make your glucose go high, youâll start to see patterns in how your body reacts to food and drinks.
Some ways to keep your glucose in range:
- Limit carbohydrate intake, particularly from added sugars and processed, refined carbs from foods like white bread, pasta, and chips.
- Increase water intake to maintain hydration.
- Engage in physical activity, such as a post-meal walk, to burn excess blood sugar. Exercise encourages the release of glucagon from the pancreas to allow stored glucose back into the bloodstream to fuel your workout. This flood of glucose into the blood doesn’t require insulin, so it’s a healthy way to burn through glucose stores.
- Eat meals with more fiber, protein, and fat: A small study showed that meals with higher fiber, protein, and fat resulted in a smaller increase in glucose with post-meal glucose peaks ranging from 99â122 mg/dL or 5.5â6.8 mmol/L.
- Strive to eat minimally processed whole foods. Check out our one-week low-glycemic meal plan to get some kitchen inspo.
- Reduce stress through meditation, deep breathing, reframing negative thoughts.
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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.
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How To Maintain A Healthy Blood Sugar Level
You can maintain a healthy blood sugar level by following certain tips:
- Regular exercise like walking, swimming and dancing can increase your insulin sensitivity.
- Control your intake of carbs like sugary foods.
- Increase your intake of fiber-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains.
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
Target Glucose Ranges For Adults
- Fasting glucose range: 72-90 mg/dL or 4.0-5.0 mmol/L
- Before eating: Depends on what you ate, what you did, and what you plan to eat
- Glucose range 1-2 hours after eating: < 120 mg/dL or 6.7 mmol/L
Most blood sugar charts show recommended levels as a range, allowing for differences between individuals. People with diabetes will often have higher blood sugar targets or âacceptableâ ranges than those without the condition, although a standard treatment goal in diabetes is to keep your blood glucose in a normal range as much as possible.
For type 1 diabetics and type 2 diabetics, blood sugar ranges are higher than the averages and targets listed above. According to the American Diabetes Association, average blood sugar levels for diabetics are:
- Fasting plasma glucose: 126 mg/dL or higher
- Before eating: 80â130 mg/dL
- One to two hours after eating: < 180 mg/dL
Diabetes occurs when the pancreas cannot make enough insulin to clear glucose out of the blood. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that moves glucose from what we consume from the bloodstream and into the cells to make energy.
Abnormal blood sugar occurs when thereâs either too much or too little sugar in the blood.
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How Does Blood Glucose Work
Blood sugar, or glucose, is the main sugar found in your blood. When you eat or drink, your body breaks down carbohydrates in the food or liquid into sugar for energy.
Then your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which helps blood sugar enter your bodys cells. It also helps your body store blood sugar for later use. As the cells use the blood sugar, glucose and insulin levels in the blood decrease.
But with diabetes, your body has trouble regulating glucose. Either your pancreas doesnt make enough insulin, or your body doesnt process insulin effectively. Therefore, the amount of sugar in your blood is higher than normal. And a lot of glucose in your blood is bad for your body.
A fasting blood glucose test measures the amount of glucose in your blood when it should be at its lowest. That happens in the morning and when you havent had anything to eat or drink for a while.
How Do I Prepare For The Plasma Glucose Level Test And How Are The Results Interpreted
To get an accurate plasma glucose level, you must have fasted for at least 8 hours prior to the test. When you report to the clinic or laboratory, a small sample of blood will be taken from a vein in your arm. According to the practice recommendations of the American Diabetes Association, the results of the blood test are interpreted as follows:
Fasting blood glucose level
- If your blood glucose level is 70 to 99* mg/dL . . .
- What it means: Your glucose level is within the normal range
*Values between 50 and 70 are often seen in healthy people
**The condition of “prediabetes” puts you at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and blood lipid disorders
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/21/2018.
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What Do The Test Results Mean
- If your fasting blood glucose level is between 3.6mmol/l and 6mmol/l, this means that your blood glucose level is normal.
- If your fasting blood glucose level is 7mmol/l or higher, this is likely to mean that you have diabetes. Diabetes is a long-term condition where the body is not able to control the amount of glucose in the blood.
- If your fasting blood glucose level is between 6.1mmol/l and 6.9mmols/l, you may have IFG.
Treatment For Type 1 Diabetes
The impairment of the pancreas ability to produce insulin in type 1 diabetes means that insulin treatment is necessary.
Most people will take insulin by injection with insulin pens. Insulin can also be delivered by wearing an insulin pump. Use of an insulin pump will be considered in people that express an interest in having one and that meet certain eligibility criteria.
It is important that you are given education on how to balance insulin doses with dietary intake and physical activity and how to use blood glucose testing to help you control your diabetes.
Staying physically active and exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet are also important towards maintaining good blood glucose control and minimising the risk of long term diabetes complications. Although diet and exercise have a role to play in type 1 diabetes management, they cannot reverse the disease or eliminate the need for insulin.
- If you have recently been diagnosed, see our newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes guide.
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Types Of Diabetes And Their Major Causes
Diabetes is mainly of 3 types, type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes, and with all 3 types of diabetes, the body is either not able to produce enough insulin or unable to use the insulin that it makes, leading to high blood sugar levels.Type 1 Diabetes usually starts in childhood and carries on for life. Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the patients pancreas stops making insulin. The causes of Type 1 Diabetes are:
- Family History and Genetics: A person having a close relative with Type 1 Diabetes usually has a high chance of getting the condition himself. So, it is imperative for every child with a parent or a sibling having Type 1 Diabetes to undergo a screening test for Type 1 Diabetes.
- Pancreatic Diseases: Persons with diseased pancreas may acquire Type 1 Diabetes because the pancreas may fail to produce insulin needed to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
- Infections or Illnesses that Cause Damage to the Pancreas: Viral infections such as German measles, mumps, and rotavirus may cause damage to the beta cells of the pancreas which produce insulin and lead to the development of Type 1 Diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the body develops insulin resistance and is not able to make use of the insulin produced by the pancreas, leading to uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Type 2 Diabetes usually affects adults, but it can occur in individuals of any age. The main causes of Type 2 Diabetes include:
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What Should I Do After I Check My Blood Glucose
Write the blood glucose number in a log book or on a log sheet , and:
- Include all of your blood glucose numbers.
- Write a comment if there is a reason the blood glucose is above or below target.
- Take your blood glucose meter with you when you are away from home.
- Know your blood glucose numbers when you call the clinic or the doctor.
- Bring your blood glucose meter and blood glucose records to all your appointments.
- Bring a list of any questions that you may have.