Blood Sugar Test
What is a blood sugar test?
Blood sugar test measures the glucose or sugar levels in the blood. It helps in monitoring whether the blood glucose levels are within the target range. In other words, blood sugar testing is used to diagnose diabetes as well as to monitor glucose levels for patients with a diabetic condition. Consequently, it is a significant part of diabetes care which helps in managing the condition.
Why do I need a blood glucose test?
Glucose is the main source of energy for the body and it comes from the intake of food. A hormone called insulin which is created by the pancreas helps to move glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of tissues of the body enabling the body to function properly. However, if the amount of glucose in the blood is either too high or too low, it can be a sign of a critical medical condition. The improper functioning of the pancreas can lead to type 1 and type 2 diabetes in people as a result of abnormal blood glucose levels. Patients with type 1 diabetes have a pancreas that fails to make insulin whereas patients with type 2 diabetes have cells in the body that are resistant to insulin or have a pancreas that slows or stops producing adequate insulin levels or blood glucose.
If left undiagnosed and untreated, it can cause serious damage or complications to the body over the course of years. Thus, it is crucial to measure and maintain blood sugar levels in a healthy range. Hyperglycemia refers to a high blood sugar level which can lead to developing many complications such as loss of vision, heart disease, kidney disease, and a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis which can result in loss of consciousness and possible death. Hypoglycemia, on the other hand, refers to low blood glucose levels which can also cause or lead to major health issues if left untreated such as seizures, coma, or brain damage.
The doctor may recommend a blood sugar test as part of a regular check-up, and to diagnose and manage if the patient has diabetes or prediabetes conditions where the blood sugar levels are higher than normal. The doctor may suggest a blood glucose test if the patient has symptoms of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.
What are the types of blood sugar tests?
The blood sugar level can either be tested at home, a clinic, or a lab and requires blood samples to be screened. The drop of blood can be taken by pricking the finger with a small sharp needle called a lancet for the test. This is done by patients who are monitoring their diabetes regularly. Another way of testing the blood sugar level is to draw blood out of the body using a syringe to diagnose diabetes.
The doctor may recommend the following blood sugar level tests:
- Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test :
This type of test helps measure the blood glucose or sugar level at a single point in time. Therefore, it is best to take this test in the morning to get reliable results.
- Hemoglobin A1C test:
This is a blood test that reflects the average levels of blood glucose over the last 3 months. It is also called HbA1C, glycated hemoglobin, or glycosylated hemoglobin test. The test can help diagnose prediabetes or diabetes and can help monitor the diabetic condition.
- Random plasma glucose (RPG) test:
This RPG test is used to diagnose diabetes when diabetes symptoms are present and does not require fasting. This test can be administered anytime.
Who is most at risk for developing diabetes?
The following factors increase the risk of developing diabetes:
- People who are overweight or obese
- People who are aged 45 years or older
- People who are Asian, African, Native American, Hispanic, or Pacific Islanders
- People with a family history of diabetes
- People with high blood pressure, low good cholesterol levels, or high triglyceride levels
- People who have impaired glucose tolerance or insulin resistance
- People who do not exercise or remain physically inactive
- Women who have gestational diabetes or develop diabetes while they were pregnant or giving birth to babies weighing 9 pounds or more
Blood sugar tests will enable people at high risk of developing diabetes and related health conditions to avoid or minimise risks by changing their diet, lifestyle, and medications in case other treatment plans are not showing progress.
What do the results of the blood sugar test mean?
According to the condition and the timing of the test, the blood sugar levels should be in the target ranges listed below:
- Before breakfast, the normal blood glucose level range should be within 70 to 99 mg/dL. People with diabetes will show a blood glucose level ranging between 80-130 mg/dL.
- Before lunch or dinner or snacks, the normal blood glucose level range should be within 70 to 99 mg/dL. People with diabetes will show a blood glucose level ranging between 80-130 mg/dL.
- After two hours of eating, the normal blood glucose level range should be under 140 mg/dL. People with diabetes will show blood glucose levels ranging under 180 mg/dL.
What do diagnostic results indicate?
The results of the blood sugar test can be interpreted as:
- If the blood glucose level range is within 70 to 99 mg/dL, it indicates a normal blood sugar level.
- If the blood glucose level range is within 110–125 mg/dL, it indicates prediabetes.
- If the blood glucose level is 126 mg/dL or higher, it indicates diabetes.
If the blood sugar level is higher than the target range suggesting prediabetes or diabetes, the doctor will help create a treatment plan. It is also advisable to keep a record of the blood glucose test results for better management of the diabetic condition.
For more information, you can visit Yashoda Hospital & Research Centre and consult the specialists who can help you in diagnosing and managing your blood glucose levels.