My Pancreas Failed Me! Now What Should My Blood Sugar Be?

by Cindy

What Should My Blood Sugar Be?

According to the American Diabetes Association 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, over 25 million Americans are living with diabetes. If you have just been diagnosed with diabetes it is important for you to know that you are not alone.  Despite your doctor’s best attempt to arm you with information, it is likely that you have been bombarded with a bunch of information that makes absolutely no sense to you.  Sure, you know a little about diabetes and your doctor probably did his best to explain things, but still you are left with your head spinning. Can’t anyone just put things in simplistic terms?!

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

You may be wondering, so what exactly is wrong with my body? Simply put, your body cannot process sugars, or glucose, effectively.  Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas.  This hormone helps keep your blood sugar levels in perfect balance by signaling the body to store excess sugar.  If the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, glucose will not be stored properly, resulting in abnormal, high blood sugar levels.

At this time we’ll focus on type 2 diabetes mellitus, as this is the most common form of diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes still produce insulin but experience a decrease in both its production and effectiveness.  Because these patients still produce their own insulin, it is possible to use methods other than injectable insulin to manage type 2 diabetes.  At the very least, dietary changes, exercise and weight loss will be prescribed to most people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  Often, medications will need to be added.

What is Normal Blood Sugar Level?

So you have supplies and are testing your blood as instructed, but what do these numbers mean?  Knowing how your physician arrived at this diagnosis will likely help you understand what an acceptable blood sugar level is.  The diagnostic criteria, as outlined in the Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes-2011, are summarized below.

Normal Blood Sugar Levels:

  • Fasting blood sugar levels of 70-100 mg/dl  OR
  • HbA1c less than 5.7% (Hemoglobin A1c blood test is a laboratory test that measures the average blood glucose levels over three months)

Pre-Diabetes Blood Sugar Levels:

  • Fasting blood sugar ranging from 101-125 mg/dl  OR
  • An abnormal oral glucose tolerance test measuring glucose between 140-199 mg/dl OR
  • Hba1c ranging from 5.7-6.4%

Diabetic Blood Sugar Levels:

  • Fasting blood sugar levels greater than 126 mg/dl OR
  • Random blood sugar greater than 200 mg/dl and symptoms of diabetes  OR
  • HbA1c greater than 6.5%  OR
  • An abnormal oral glucose tolerance test measuring blood glucose greater than 200 mg/dl

So now you have a rough answer to the question of what should my blood sugar be.  Ideally, we would like to see all patients with diabetes return with lab values in the normal  blood glucose range. (A fasting blood sugar level of less than 100 mg/dl OR a hemoglobin A1c less than 5.7%).  This is often unrealistic but are representative of healthy blood sugar levels that all diabetic patients should aim for. Your physician should review your overall health and lab values to determine your individual treatment goals. Your target blood glucose levels will likely follow the most recent clinical recommendations, as outlined below.

  • Blood sugar before meals: Your target blood glucose before meals is 70-130 mg/dl
  • Blood sugar after meals (Checked two hours a meal): Your blood sugar should not be higher than 180 mg/dl
  • HbA1c (This should be checked by your physician every three months): Your average blood glucose level, measured by a test called HbA1c, should be less than 7.0%.

It’s that simple! Continue to check your sugars as advised by your physician and be sure to keep a personal blood sugar level chart. Now you can monitor your own data and understand what an acceptable blood sugar is.

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