What Blood Sugar Level Is Too Low – The A1C test is a blood test that measures a person’s average blood sugar level, or blood sugar level over the past 3 months. An A1C reading above 5.7% may be cause for concern, but it depends on a number of factors.
Doctors use A1C tests to check for prediabetes and diabetes. A range of 5.7–6.5% suggests that a person may have prediabetes. More than 6.5% reported having diabetes.
What Blood Sugar Level Is Too Low
Keeping your A1C within the normal or target range can lower your risk of developing diabetes or its complications. Read on to learn what your A1C test results mean.
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The A1C table below can help people convert and understand their A1C test results. Your doctor can provide more background information and describe ways to keep your blood sugar in a safe range.
The A1C test measures the percentage of red blood cells that have hemoglobin coated with glucose. With this measurement, the doctor can see the average level of sugar in the person’s blood over the last 2-3 months.
Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein in red blood cells. It helps carry oxygen from the lungs to other tissues.
When glucose enters the blood, it binds to hemoglobin. The more glucose in a person’s blood, the more hemoglobin binds to glucose.
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Getting tested for A1C is simple: a healthcare professional takes a blood sample and sends it to a lab for testing.
If a person takes insulin to control their diabetes, their doctor may also instruct them to monitor their blood sugar at home with a blood glucose meter or continuous glucose monitor.
Traditionally, A1C levels are reported as a percentage. Alternatively, they can be reported as estimated average glucose (eAG) in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or millimoles per liter (mmol/L).
Glucose meters and continuous glucose monitors also provide eAG readings, some of which have been obtained for at least 12 days.
High And Low Blood Sugar
A1C tests give a more accurate long-term average. It takes into account fluctuations during the day, for example at night and after meals.
If someone’s A1C is higher than normal, they may have diabetes or prediabetes. Their doctor may order repeat tests to confirm this.
A doctor will set a target A1C level for a person based on many factors. The right goals depend on the person.
A person should work with their doctor to reassess and adjust their A1C goals over time. Conditions and goals of treatment may change.
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A doctor may order an A1C test for people over 45 to detect diabetes. They can also test young people with other risk factors.
If a person is meeting their treatment goals, they may need to have their A1C tested twice a year. When blood sugar is difficult to control, a person often needs to take this test more often.
Anyone who experiences any of the above symptoms or notices other changes in their health should notify their doctor.
Doctors order an A1C test to see if someone has prediabetes or type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Doctors also use the test to monitor blood sugar levels in people with diabetes to see if their treatment plan is working.
Blood Sugar Level Charts By Age: Know Your Normal Levels
A1C test results are usually presented as a percentage, but may be displayed as an eAG measurement. Target A1C levels vary from person to person based on age, general health, and other factors.
A high A1C level may indicate that a person is at high risk for diabetes or related complications. In this case, the doctor adjusts the treatment together with the patient.
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Because blood sugar levels are important to overall health, it’s good to know more about them. It turns out that blood sugar levels can fluctuate for a number of reasons, including your age.
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Blood sugar levels can vary depending on age and time of day. Figuring things out for yourself can be difficult, especially if you haven’t monitored your blood sugar before.
Read on to learn what “normal” is, then check out some blood sugar charts to learn more about typical blood sugar target ranges based on your age.
Before we get into the numbers, it’s important to note that “normal” blood sugar levels depend on many factors. A good way to learn more about what your levels mean for your health goals is to consult with a qualified healthcare professional.
“Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which is your body’s main source of energy. The pancreas then secretes insulin, which transports the glucose into the cells, where it is converted into energy. Glucose can also be stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles, or stored as “fat” in adipose tissue. Insulin and glucagon, among other hormones, help regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. —Heather Davis, MS, RDN, LDN
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To learn more about how the body regulates glucose balance, see our article on glucose homeostasis. Remember that some fluctuations in blood sugar are normal. Many factors affect blood sugar levels, including:
Typical glucose values are often given as a range to help capture any normal fluctuations that may occur within that range. Also, the normal blood sugar range may be wider or narrower for those who may have conditions such as prediabetes or diabetes (characterized by some degree of insulin resistance).
According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, normal blood sugar levels for children ages 6-12 without diabetes should look like this:
Parents or caregivers usually don’t check their children’s blood sugar throughout the day unless they have conditions like type 1 diabetes. Still, it’s good to know what’s healthy.
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In children with diabetes, their blood glucose levels fluctuate from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep, depending on their activity level.
However, it is important to remember that the recommended blood sugar level during the day is 80-180 mg/dL.
The American Diabetes Association does not have typical blood sugar guidelines for teens without diabetes. You should always consult your doctor for specific instructions. The Mayo Clinic recommends the same guidelines for healthy children/adults without diabetes, maintaining blood sugar levels between 70-140 mg/dL.
It is best for teens with diabetes to consult their doctor for specific recommendations. Some studies of teenagers with type 1 diabetes show blood sugar levels between 70 and 150 mg/dL during the day.
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Most research on normal blood sugar levels has focused on adults. While you may notice that different labs may have different reference ranges, research shows that for non-diabetic adults, the optimal fasting blood sugar level to minimize the risk of prediabetes may be 70-90 mg/dL.
Studies have also shown that blood sugar levels above 90 increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
There are many factors that can affect high fasting blood sugar levels. The following should be noted:
It may also be helpful to monitor your alcohol intake, be aware of any supplements you take, and monitor your overall physical activity and weight. Working one-on-one with a qualified health care professional, including a certified dietitian or nutritionist, can help you understand some of these patterns and how they affect your overall health.
Roller Coaster Effect (fluctuating Sugar Levels) In Diabetes
Of course, the expected blood sugar ranges for adults with diabetes are not the same as the target ranges for adults without diabetes. The American Diabetes Association also recommends different blood sugar ranges for healthy adults, adults with prediabetes, and adults with diabetes. Healthy adults without diabetes should maintain blood sugar levels between 70-140 mg/dL.
According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) guidelines, adults with healthy glucose metabolism should keep glucose levels below 140 mg/dL after meals. Healthy adults with demonstrated normal glucose tolerance remain below 140 mg/dL 95-99% of the time.
Peaks above 160 mg/dL can be problematic. Monitoring your blood sugar over time under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional can help you assess your risk of developing conditions such as prediabetes and diabetes. Remember that most healthy people will notice a spike in glucose within 30 minutes of eating.
Wondering how prediabetes affects all of this? The ADA classifies prediabetes as a fasting blood glucose level above 100 mg/dL and up to 125 mg/dL and a two-hour postprandial level between 140-199 mg/dL. This is usually diagnosed with an oral glucose tolerance test. An A1C between 5.7-6.4% is considered pre-diabetic by the ADA.
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Diabetes is usually diagnosed after two repeated fasting glucose tests of more than 125 mg/dL or a reading of more than 200 mg/dL two hours after an oral glucose tolerance test.
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