How much time do you spend thinking about your blood sugar levels? If you happen to be one of the 34.2 million Americans, or roughly 1 in 10 people, who have diabetes, chances are you think about them constantly. Unfortunately, diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes increased from just 0.93% of the population in 1958 to 7.40% in 2015. In this article, we will review diabetes and discuss the process of maintaining consistent blood sugar levels by using a blood sugar chart.
Learning how to properly manage your levels is a great first step in managing your diabetes and improving your quality of life.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as just diabetes, at its most basic level occurs when the body does not produce insulin or use it at an efficient rate. The result of this causes a person to have higher than normal blood sugar levels.
Diabetes can have various impacts on the body, but commonly causes problems with major organs, including the heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Generally, there are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that results in a person's immune system attacking cells living in the pancreas. The attack causes the pancreas to produce insufficient levels of insulin, reducing the body's ability to properly store glucose needed to provide energy.
This form of diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, but it can also develop in adults. There is no known cure for Type 1 diabetes at this time, with treatment generally focusing on making diet and lifestyle changes to prevent complications.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease. This form of diabetes occurs when your pancreas does not produce enough insulin and the cells that make up your body respond become resistant to the insulin you may be producing. Type 2 diabetes historically has been referred to as being adult-onset and heavily linked to a person's weight.
In fact, obesity is believed to account for 80-85% of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. While there's no cure for type 2 diabetes, losing weight, eating well and exercising can help you manage the disease.
If diet and exercise aren't enough to manage your blood sugar, you may also need diabetes medications or insulin therapy.
Using a Blood Sugar Chart
A blood sugar, or blood glucose, chart is a reference guide for a person's ideal blood sugar levels at different points in the day, including critical times like before and after meals. Doctors treating patients with diabetes will typically provide A1C blood sugar recommendations in blood sugar charts, giving the patient a set of guidelines to follow.
A blood sugar chart is an essential tool that helps people with diabetes to manage glucose levels to prevent further complications of the disease. To help interpret and assess blood sugar results, the following numbers outline normal and abnormal blood glucose levels for those with and without diabetes.
When checking your blood sugar levels before you eat, you should look for a number less than 100 mg/dl. For diabetics, that number should range between 80 and 130 mg/dl.
One to two hours after the beginning of a meal
It’s important that this sugar level check comes after the start of your meal, not the end. With this check, you should aim for a number under 140 mg/dl if you’re not a diabetic and less than 180 mg/dl if you have diabetes.
Over a three-month period
An A1C test can help you measure your numbers over an extended period of time. Ideal numbers for non-diabetics would be 5.7% and for diabetics, a number of 7% (or less than 180 mg/dl) is ideal.
Time of check
Target blood sugar levels for people without diabetes
Target blood sugar levels for people with diabetes
less than 100 mg/dl
1–2 hours after the start of a meal
less than 140 mg/dl
less than 180 mg/dl
Over a 3-month period, which an A1C test can measure
less than 5.7%
less than 7%
less than 180 mg/dl
It is important to work with your doctor as these numbers are generally provided as a guide. An individual's blood sugar management plan will likely need to be adjusted for numerous factors.
Determining and Measuring Blood Sugar Level Guidelines
Determining what an appropriate blood sugar level is at different points of the day can vary substantially from person to person. Blood glucose levels are often at their lowest before you have had your first meal of the day and generally follow a pattern of reducing as you lead up to subsequent meals.
Since the body creates blood sugar by digesting the food you eat into sugar, glucose levels are often highest in the hours following meals. It is common for people who have been diagnosed with a form of diabetes to often have higher blood sugar targets than those without the condition.
Some of the variables used to determine the blood sugar targets include:
- Age and general life expectancy
- The presence of other relevant health conditions
- Period of time the person has had diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
- Issues with small arteries in the body
- Damage to the eyes, kidneys, blood vessels, brain or heart
- Lifestyle factors
- Stress levels
- Other associated illnesses
When it comes to measuring blood sugar levels, many types of monitors are available for patients to conveniently take readings at home. Most commonly in the United States, taking a blood sugar reading with these monitors typically involves using blood obtained from a finger prick and testing strips.
These give blood sugar readings in mg/dl, which the patient would then compare to the provided blood sugar recommendations. If your doctor provides you with a blood sugar chart, you can expect the recommended levels to be represented as a range. This allows for variances that may exist between individuals.
Managing Your Blood Sugar Levels
Managing diabetes requires a heightened sense of awareness, as knowing what foods you are putting in your body can prove to be critical. While eating healthy is important for anyone, diabetics need to know how specific foods are going to affect blood sugar levels.
Here are a few tips to help manage those levels:
- Pay close attention to carbohydrate counts
- Be mindful of portion sizes
- Eat well-balanced meals
- Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages
- Stick to an exercise plan
- Have a consistent meal and medication schedule
- Drink plenty of water
Managing diabetes is a process. The more you know about food, your body and the variables associated with managing blood sugar levels, the more successful you will be.
If you are one of the millions of U.S. citizens living with diabetes, you know managing blood sugar levels is a crucial step in preventing potential complications of the disease. Keeping yourself within normal blood sugar levels has a host of benefits like avoiding long-term health issues, managing a healthy weight and just feeling good.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or feel you may be struggling with your blood glucose levels, our qualified physicians and nurses at CareNow® will help you determine what’s really going on. Walk-in patients are welcome at all of our locations throughout the country. To find the CareNow® nearest you, visit our website.
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