Blood glucose, or blood sugar, is a very important source of energy for our bodies. It provides nutrients to the body’s organs, muscles and the nervous system. Glucose arrives in the body from the food you eat every day, with the absorption of glucose regulated by the small intestine, pancreas and liver.
Blood Sugar Normal Range
The normal range of blood sugar varies depending on the different laboratories that conduct tests. There are many factors playing a role in an individual’s blood sugar levels.And the normal levels may be slightly different in different occasions.
1. Normal Fasting Blood Sugar
An individual’s fasting blood sugar is measured when they first wake up in the morning. The idea is to get an estimation before any food is consumed. If your blood sugar levels are between 70 mg/dl (3.9 mmol/L) and 92 mg/dl (5.0 mmol/L) then you are at a normal fasting blood sugar level. A majority of research indicates that anyone with blood sugar levels in this range is not at risk of developing diabetes for at least another decade or two. If the blood sugar level is going above 92 mg/dl, the risk of diabetes begins to increase rapidly. Some doctors even consider blood sugar levels below 100 mg/dl (5.6 mmol/L) as normal.
2. Post-Meal or Postprandial Blood Sugar
This measures the blood sugar levels an hour or two after a meal is consumed. No matter what a person eats for his or her meal, the blood sugar level should not go above 120 mg/dl (6.6 mmol/L). For a majority of people, this level will not rise above 100 mg/dl after meals.
Individuals with diabetes are at greater risk when their blood sugar levels increase. For these people, keeping blood sugar between 4 to 7 mmol/L is vital before meals. For an after-meal level, blood sugar should not go above 9 mmol/L if you have type I diabetes, or above 8.5 if you have type II diabetes.
3. Normal Blood Sugars During Pregnancy
The blood sugar normal range during pregnancy is lower than other people, due to the dilution of blood sugar resulting from higher blood volume in pregnant women. A majority of research shows that the blood sugar range for a normal pregnant woman is
- between 70 to 79 mg/dl at fasting;
- between 109 and 132 mg/dl an hour after meals;
- and between 99 to 110 mg/dl two hours after a meal.
If you are pregnant but also have diabetes, make sure your blood sugar levels at fasting are 79 mg/dl or lower, with the one hour and two hour after-meals level at 122 mg/dl and 110 mg/dl respectively.
Abnormalities in Blood Sugar Levels
With the blood sugar normal range discussed above, it is time to look at the types of abnormalities people experience in their blood sugar levels.
Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar occurs when the blood glucose levels in the body drop to below 70 mg/dl (3.9 mmol/L). There are risks associated with lower blood sugar levels, such as the potentially fatal hypoglycemia. If you are worried about low blood sugar, keep an eye out for symptoms such as lethargic feelings, impaired mental functions, constant irritability, shaking, twitching, weakness in your arms or leg muscles, a pale complexion, excessive sweating and complete loss of consciousness.
High Blood Sugar
Similar to low blood sugar, high blood sugar involves health risks for both the short and long-term. If a person’s blood sugar levels are constantly high, it leads to appetite suppression and other issues. If this hyperglycemia is long-term, it can lead to other diseases such as heart disease, eye problems, kidney failure, nerve damage and more. Consistent high blood sugar most often leads to diabetes.
How to Tell If Someone Has Diabetes
Diabetes is a very serious illness that has immediate and long-term health consequences. However, people are often unaware of how to diagnose diabetes in themselves or their loved ones.
Tests to Diagnose Diabetes in Someone
There are two main tests performed by doctors to test the blood glucose in the body, thereby discovering if you are suffering from pre-diabetes or diabetes. These tests are the fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) and the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).
The FPG test is a test of your blood to understand the level of sugar in your body after you have not eaten anything for at least eight hours. If the fasting blood glucose level is at 100 to 125 mg/dl, a person is likely to have pre-diabetes. If the level is 126 mg/dl or above, they already suffer from full-blown diabetes.
The OGTT involves measuring an individual’s blood sugar level by eating nothing for at least two hours and then consuming some beverage rich in glucose. If the blood sugar level is between 140 mg/dl to 199 mg/dl then they are suffering from pre-diabetes. If the level reaches 200 mg/dl or higher, they have diabetes.
As with any tests, these blood sugar tests are not 100% accurate. For that reason, if anyone measures in a range that outside the blood sugar normal range, the test is taken again at a different day to confirm the results. According to the American Diabetes Association, the FPG test is easier to perform, quicker and costs less money.
Test Your Blood Sugar at Home
If you do not have the time or money to visit a doctor to test your blood sugar, there are some home methods to check whether you are in the blood sugar normal range.
- Using Your Fingertips: Take a small but sharp needle and prick your finger. Place the resulting blood onto a test strip. This test strip is then placed on a meter that indicates blood sugar levels. These results come in less than 15 seconds, allowing you to perform multiple tests on different days to get a more accurate assessment. Meters are also available that provide you with your average blood sugar levels over an extended period of time. These meters even come with charts and graphs to indicate past results. Blood sugar meters and strips are readily available at all major pharmacy locations.
- Other Meter Tests: These tests are not exclusive to blood from the fingertip. Other parts of the body, such as your arm, forearm, thumb and thighs are sometimes used for testing. These results are sometimes different from the fingertip tests. If you want a more accurate assessment, use different meters on multiple days and take the average of the results. However, fingertip readings are said to come more quickly, and they are often more accurate for people who suffer from hypoglycemia.