The blood sugar basics
Do you know how to control your blood sugar? If you are one of the millions of Americans living with diabetes, learning the basics is a great first step to help you manage your condition. Type 2 diabetes is one of the fastest-growing chronic medical conditions in the country, and if you don’t have it, chances are you know someone who does.
If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it means that your diabetes healthcare team (primary care provider, endocrinologist and diabetes educator) has found your blood sugar to be too high. It’s important to control your diabetes to stay healthy, and knowing your blood sugar goals is a great way to get started!
What is blood sugar?
- Blood sugar, or blood glucose, is the body’s main source of energy
- It’s important to check blood sugar regularly to make sure it is within range of your goals
- Following a well-balanced, healthy meal plan, staying physically active and taking your medication as prescribed are key components of controlling blood sugar successfully
How does blood sugar work in the body?
- When you eat food, the body breaks down the sugars and starches into glucose, which then enters the bloodstream
- Insulin, an important hormone produced in the pancreas, helps glucose move from the blood into most of the body’s cells, where it can be used for energy
What happens when blood sugar levels change?
- When blood sugar is too high, called hyperglycemia, people with diabetes may have symptoms such as frequent urination, increase thirst, fatigue or blurred vision
- When blood sugar drops too low, called hypoglycemia, people with diabetes may feel sweaty, dizzy, hungry and shaky. It’s important to recognize low blood sugar right away and take steps to raise it to avoid serious consequences
How is blood sugar tested?
- Self monitoring your blood sugar is an important aspect of controlling diabetes
- Using a blood glucose meter is the most accurate and easy way to test blood sugar regularly
- Having your A1C tested is also important for controlling your diabetes – the A1C test reflects your average blood sugar levels over the past 2-3 months.
- A1C test results are reported as a percentage
- A1C testing can give you a good idea of how your diabetes treatment plan is working
How often should I check my blood sugar?
- Talk with your diabetes healthcare team to develop a schedule for regular blood sugar testing that works for you
- Keeping a log of your blood sugar results is important and can help give you and your diabetes healthcare team a good picture of your body’s response to your diabetes care plan
- It’s important to test your blood sugar right away if you experience symptoms of low or high blood sugar
What are my blood sugar goals?
- Maintaining blood sugar goals is important – talk with your diabetes healthcare team to set your blood sugar targets
- An A1C goal recommended for many people with type 2 diabetes is 6.5 percent or less
- A different goal may be appropriate for some patients. Talk with your diabetes healthcare team about the right A1C goal for you