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[Science of Diabetes] One of the most common questions asked by people with diabetes is: “What are normal blood sugar levels?” Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this question, because it depends on how you define normal. It’s like deciding when someone is rich or poor, tall or short, thin or fat, or young or old. Most people would agree that a very skinny person was thin and a very fat person was fat. But how about the sizes in between? When does underweight become normal and when does normal become overweight? It’s all a matter of definitions and cutoff points set by one group or another. The definitions of normal, prediabetes, and diabetes are usually made by august committees of diabetes experts, and they change from time to time. For example, not too long ago, it was decided that you’re diabetic if your fasting BG level is 126 mg/dL [to convert to mMol/L, divide by 18] or higher, instead of the previous cutoff of 140. There are some guidelines about ...
Does your hemoglobin A1c level not appear to agree with the average meter readings you get at home? You're not alone.
There are numerous reasons your A1c might appear to be higher or lower than what you were expecting. The most common reason is related to the fact that your A1c reflects an average blood glucose (BG) level. You can have a lot of highs but also a lot of lows and end up with a relatively normal A1c, the same as you'd have if you kept your BG levels normal all the time.
But this isn't the only reason for variation.
The A1c depends on glycation of the hemoglobin in your red blood cells (RBCs). Glycation means adding glucose, and the higher your BGs are, the more glucose you'll add to the hemoglobin.
Anything that affects the lifetime of your RBCs, which are assumed to live 120 days, will affect the A1c. If you give blood or have some kind of internal bleeding, or if you have a hemolytic anemia, you will lose some of the older RBCs cells wit...
For a loved one with diabetes, monitoring blood glucose levels is crucial. “Self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG testing) provides a map that guides decisions and changes in treatment components to improve diabetes control,” says Susan McLaughlin, American Diabetes Association president-elect, Health Care and Education. “Tracking patterns helps individuals know when they’re at greatest risk of very high or very low blood glucose, which can increase the risk of falls, result in fracture, decrease mobility , diminish quality of life, and lead to depression.” Today’s blood glucose monitors are portable, accurate, and reliable. Test results are sometimes reported in as little as five seconds, and almost always in less than a minute. Some are easier to use than others, require less blood for testing, and store more data. Error codes, automatic timers, and barcodes make calibrating the units less complicated, and large display screens allow people with l...
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