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Blood Sugar Testing

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Volume IV, Issue 7

Blood Sugar Testing


What is a good blood sugar range for a person with diabetes?
How do I check my blood sugar?
When should I check my blood sugar?
What is my A1c Test?
What do the results of the A1c mean?


What is a good blood sugar range for a person with diabetes?

A good fasting blood sugar (before breakfast) is <110 mg/dl.*
A good blood sugar before bedtime is <140 mg/dl.*

*Remember that everyone is different and their reading will vary. Check with your doctor to find out your target blood sugar range.

How do I check my blood sugar?

  • Wash your hands with soap and water. Use warm water to allow more blood to circulate to the fingers. Dry your hands well before you pierce your finger.
  • Pierce the side of your finger. The tip of the finger contains more nerve endings and will hurt more than the side of your finger when pierced.
  • Change which finger you pierce each time you test your blood sugar. Using the same finger will cause the skin to become tough and more difficult to stick.

If you have questions about how to use your monitor call the toll-free telephone number listed on the monitor.

When should I check my blood sugar?

You and your doctor can learn something about your control each time you test and record your blood sugar. The best times to check your sugar are:

  • In the morning, before breakfast.
  • 2 hours after a meal.
  • Before you go to bed at night.
  • Before and after you exercise.

If you are sick, have a fever or diarrhea, or have had changes in your medications, check your blood sugar more often.

Keep a log of your blood sugar levels, including the date and time of measurement. Bring this record with you each time you see your doctor. This will give you and your doctor a chance to check your blood sugar control and make changes in your treatment plan.

What is my A1c Test?

Self blood sugar testing reveals your blood sugar level at a particular moment. A1c is a blood test that reveals your average blood sugar level over the past 2-to-3 months. The result of this test gives you and your doctor a bigger picture of how well your diabetes is being controlled over time.

What do the results of the A1c test mean?

The results of the A1c test are given percentages:

  • 6% = an average blood sugar of 120 mg/dl.
  • 7% = an average blood sugar of 150 mg/dl.
  • 8% = an average blood sugar of 180 mg/dl.
  • 9% = an average blood sugar of 210 mg/dl.

A good A1c reading is below 6.5%.* Studies show that blood sugar levels under 150 mg/dl and A1c readings under 6.5%* reduce the risk of health problems related to poorly controlled diabetes, such as kidney, eye, heart, blood vessel, and nerve damage.

At least once a year show your doctor or diabetes nurse educator your blood glucose monitor and talk about any questions you may have.

*Reflects the new Diabetes Screening and Mangement Guidelines set by the American College of Endocrinology (ACE) and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), 2001.

Question: What are the normal ranges for the hemoglobin A1c?

Answer: Remember, the hemoglobin A1c result must be compared to the normal range for each particular lab. Eventually that normal range will be standardized to a range of 4-5% but some labs still have ranges that are quite different.

To convert the A1c to average blood glucose, consider the high end of the normal range (e.g. If normal is 4-6%, then 6%) is equal to 120 mg/dl. For each change in 1% of A1c, there is a corresponding increase or decrease of approximately 30 mg/dl average plasma glucose.

Question: What is the best way to measure control?

Answer: The A1c test is the preferred standard for measuring glycemic control. The A1c test measures your average blood glucose level over the past 2-to-3 months. It’s the best tool you and your healthcare provider have to assess your overall control–and your risk of developing serious complications.

AACE recommends an A1c target goal of 6.5% or less, and also suggests having an A1c test at least 4 times per year.

  • You and your physician should determine how often you should test.
  • In fact, AACE recommends talking to your physician about your A1c during every visit.
  • A1c testing is not substitute for regular blood glucose monitoring.

Question: If I’m measuring my A1c, is blood glucose self-monitoring also necessary?

Answer: The A1c test and blood glucose monitoring work together. The A1c test shows your average blood glucose over the past 2-to-3 months–while testing with a glucose monitor shows your glucose level at a specific point in time.

  • If you’re not in good control, self-monitoring your A1c and blood glucose can help you better understand your diabetes and how to manage it.
  • Talk to your physician about self-monitoring–and if a specific monitoring plan may make sense for you.