One of the most common health disorders Americans face today is diabetes mellitus. More than likely, if you were not diagnosed with diabetes before the age of 30, or are overweight and/or inactive, you have what is known as Type 2 diabetes. All forms of diabetes require management of blood sugar levels overnight and before daily meals.
“Normal” blood sugar is a bit of a misnomer because there are different ranges that are
considered acceptable for pregnant women, people with Type 1 (formerly known as “juvenile”) diabetes, as well as for those without any form of diabetes. In general, it is recommended to keep blood sugar levels below 140 mg/dL (or 7.8 mmol/L in other parts of the world). Notably, before 2015, the American Diabetes Association (or ADA, the leading authority on diabetes mellitus management in the United States) encouraged diabetics to target their blood sugars to be 70 mg/dL at the lowest. A study that came out at that time showed that people of all ages may have been overtreating to reach that goal, however, and the target was raised to 80 mg/dL at the lowest (90 mg/dL for children with type 1 diabetes).
It is also important to note that blood sugar levels are used to diagnose diabetes. Here is a
summary of some of the blood sugar requirements needed to diagnose this common (but manageable) disease:
● The easiest is likely a random blood sugar test. Regardless of when you last ate, a blood
sugar of >200 mg/dL is diagnostic for diabetes mellitus.
● A hemoglobin A1C blood test also does not require fasting, and instead measures the
percentage of your blood sugar attached to a protein in your red blood cells called
hemoglobin. This will give your health provider an idea of how well your blood sugars
have been controlled for the last 2-3 months. A hemoglobin A1C of 6.5% or higher on 2
separate occasions is diagnostic for diabetes mellitus.
This article reviewed by Dr. Jim Liu, MD and Ms. Deb Dooley, APRN.
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