Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She researches and shares remedies for using certain products for illnesses.
When people are first diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, they probably will have no clue what numbers are associated with the chronic disease. However, as time goes on, they will need to know certain numbers in order to manage the disease.
This article is not about what to eat or drink or which medicines to take. Other articles cover those things. This article focuses only on the numbers you need to know if you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Why You Should Know Your Numbers
You should not be in the dark about what your numbers are. Knowing your numbers helps you know what changes you need to make in your diet, exercise routine, and other activities. Your numbers will also help your doctor know how to treat the disease by changing your medication and making other adjustments.
Below are two important numbers along with simplified explanations that will help you if you are a diabetic.
Blood Glucose Number
Your blood glucose number is the first one you should know because that number lets you know which foods, exercise, and other activities affect your blood sugar levels during the day.
When you have type 2 diabetes, you will know what your numbers are by checking them on a regular basis. In order to know the amount of sugar in your blood, you need to test your blood at least once a day. Some people choose to test their blood sugar levels several times a day to find out if their numbers are going up, down, or staying the same.
According to the National Institutes of Health, if your blood sugar is well controlled, you don't need to check it as often. In fact, some people check theirs only a few times a week. However, if people are curious about their numbers, there is nothing wrong with checking them as often as they like.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) gives the following numbers that are normal.
- 70 to 130 mg/dl before eating in the morning
- Less than 180 mg/dl one to two hours after eating
Items Needed to Test Blood Glucose
You need the following items in order to test your blood sugar.
- a meter (also called a monitor)
- lancing device for pricking fingers
- lancets for lancing device
- glucometer testing strips
- alcohol pads
Today, more and more diabetics are giving up pricking their fingers. Instead, they are using FreeStyle Fibre 14 Day Sensor that is worn on the back of their upper arm. The system has the following benefits:
- continuously measures glucose every minute
- records readings every 15 minutes
- accurate sensor readings
- stores up to 8 hours of glucose data
- no finger-sticking required
- saves money for not having to purchase testing strips
Your A1c level is another major number you should know. First of all, A1c is also written A1C. We should be glad the term is shortened to either A1c or A1C because the scientific term is glycated hemoglobin, glycohemoglobin, hemoglobin A1c, or HbA1c. A1c is much shorter and easier to say and remember.
Your diabetic's A1c is the average of your blood sugar level over three months. It is three months because red blood cells in your body live about 90 days. The A1c test indicates that red blood cells are present in the bloodstream at the time of the test.
Your A1c represents a percentage. That gives you and your doctor a very good idea of how the disease has been managed. If a blood test is given before three months, the A1c would not be accurate.
Your A1c is the result of a blood test done at your doctor's office or at a laboratory once a year or every six months. If you are having problems controlling diabetes, your doctor might want to see you more often, especially if a new medication has been prescribed.
Your A1c is a very good indication of how well your diabetes has been managed. If the number is out of range, then your doctor will know how to adjust your management plan with oral medication or insulin, or both.
There are some at-home A1c testing kits that you can purchase from Target, Walmart, or Amazon. I purchased a kit from Walmart because I was curious about what my A1C would be before my doctor's visit. The kit showed the same A1c that my doctor's office showed. Unless you are curious like I was, you can save yourself about $50 or more if you wait until your doctor's visit.
- Below 5.7% is a normal A1c or in the non-diabetic range.
- An A1c of 5.7 % to 6.4 % is considered to be prediabetic.
- An A1c of 6.5% or higher is diabetic.
Some doctors tell their patients they are satisfied if their A1c is kept below 7.0% because that number helps prevent or delay long-term complications of diabetes. The ADA also recommends less than 7.0%.
Things to Remember
- A blood sample using your glucose monitor shows what your blood sugar is at that particular moment. It changes multiple times during the day. Only a drop of blood from your fingertip will work.
- Your A1c shows the average of your blood sugar over three months. This is usually done in a doctor's office or lab. This test is more extensive than the blood from a pricked finger. For an A1c test to be accurate, about a teaspoon of blood is needed.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.