Blood Sugar Level Test: Purpose, Procedure and Results

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For a diabetic patient, regular blood sugar test becomes an important part of their daily routine. Also, some pregnant women who develop a condition called gestational diabetes, are also asked to monitor sugar level in their blood to make sure they are within a healthy range. But, what is the healthy range? How do you monitor your blood sugar level? Here are some questions that pop up in our minds. In this article, we will shed some light on various aspects of the blood sugar test.

Blood Sugar Level Tests

What is Blood Sugar Level Test?

A blood sugar test is done to measure the amount of glucose content in your blood. You can check your sugar level at a doctor’s office or even at your home! The main source of glucose in your blood is caused due to the breakdown of carbohydrates. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, is responsible for the break down of sugar in our body. When it malfunctions, the sugar level in the blood may increase or decrease. Although glucose is the main source of energy for our body, extremely high or low levels of it is harmful for our very existence. 

Effects of Harmful Levels of Blood Sugar

When the sugar level is too high in the blood, it is called hyperglycemia. This can affect any type 1 or 2 diabetic patients and pregnant women too. Higher levels of blood sugar can cause ketoacidosis in type 1 diabetics while it can turn deadly for people suffering from type 2 diabetes

On the other hand, when the blood sugar level drops, it is hypoglycemia. This can happen to anyone including non-diabetics. This condition can cause seizures or even put a person in a coma.

Blood Sugar Symptoms

For this reason, doctors recommend diabetics to keep a note on their blood sugar level regularly. A blood sugar test will instantly give you results and help you determine whether:

  • The blood sugar level is high or low
  • You need to change your exercise or diet routine
  • Treatment goals are being met and manageable
  • Diabetic medications are working

Testing Procedures

There are various types of blood sugar test that are done based on the patient’s conditions. You can either test it at home or in a laboratory. When you are testing your sugar level at home, you can either use a Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) or a glucose meter. 

At a laboratory, doctors may use fasting blood sugar (FBS), glucose tolerance test, postprandial glucose test, and random blood sugar test.

1. Continuous Glucose Monitoring

In this method, you have to wear a monitor externally and a sugar sensor just under your skin. This arrangement will keep a tab on your sugar level and instantly alert you when there are drastic changes in your blood sugar level. The sensor lasts for a few days or weeks, after which, you will have to replace it. Although you have glucose sensors tracking your sugar levels, it is recommended to calibrate the results with a glucometer for at least twice a day.  

2. Glucose Meter

There are many varieties of glucometer available in the store. Depending on the instructions given for blood sugar test procedure, you have to go about taking the test. This process involves pricking your finger for a drop of blood that goes on a strip that needs to be inserted into the glucometer. After the chemical reaction on the strip, the device will give you the results instantly in about 20 seconds. 

3. Fasting Blood Sugar Test

As the name suggests, you have to fast before you can take this test. Fasting blood sugar test preparation is quite simple. You cannot drink or eat anything for about eight hours before the test. It is best if you schedule a test in the morning so that you can avoid fasting during day time. Most of the doctors prefer this test as fasting delivers accurate results.

4. Glucose Tolerance Test

This test helps you to understand how well the body cells are accepting glucose after consumption of a certain amount (75gm) of sugar. This test is used for pregnant women to monitor sugar levels during pregnancy. For this test, you are asked to fast for eight hours before the scheduled test. 

5. Postprandial Glucose Test

This test will measure the amount of glucose you have in your blood just two hours after a meal. In a healthy person, the blood sugar level will have gone back to the normal level. But, in the case of a diabetic person, the blood sugar level remains high. 

6. Random Glucose Test

This is a type of test taken at random intervals by a non-fasting person. For a healthy person, no matter what their diet plan is, the blood sugar level remains stable. But, this is not the same in the case of a diabetic patient. They will have trouble maintaining their blood sugar level. So, this test acts as a powerful tool for diabetics to figure out the changes they have to implement based on the results. 

Blood Sugar Test Results

When we take a variety of blood glucose level test, we must know the difference between normal blood sugar level and those of diabetics. Based on the results, you and your doctor can decide on the changes that you can implement in your lifestyle. 

Test Type Normal Range Prediabetes Diabetes
Fasting Blood Sugar Test 90 to 110 mg/dL 110 to 125 mg/dl >126 mg/dL
Postprandial Glucose Test Below 140 mg/dl 140 to 199 mg/dl >200 mg/dL
Random Glucose Test 79 to 160 mg/dl 140 to 199 mg/dL >200 mg/dL

In the case of the glucose tolerance test, the results vary based on the schedule at which you have taken the test. 

When blood sample is taken Prediabetes Diabetes Gestational diabetes
Fasting 100 to 125 mg/dL 126 mg/dL or greater >92 mg/dL
After 1 hour >180 mg/dL
After 2 hour 140 to 199 mg/dL    200 mg/dL or greater >153 mg/dL

FAQs

    1. Are there any side effects for blood sugar test?

There are almost no side effects or risk when it comes to blood sugar level test. However, you may experience swelling, soreness, and bruising at the site where your blood is drawn. It should heal in a day or two. 

    1. How to prevent gestational diabetes? 

As and when your fetus grows, it needs more glucose to fuel the growth. Due to this, your body naturally becomes insulin resistance causing your glucose level to soar up. So, gestational diabetes is common during any pregnancy. However, you can lower the risk by reducing your excessive weight with regular exercise before becoming pregnant. While you are pregnant, consider consuming lean proteins, healthy fats and fibre rather than food rich in sugar content. 

    1. Why does being overweight put you at risk for developing diabetes?

Obese people are generally more prone to developing diabetes than people with a healthy weight. This is because overweight people have high blood pressure and their body does not produce and use insulin. For this reason, doctors recommend doing more physical activities. 

Conclusion

Taking tests helps you understand where you are on the journey of maintaining your blood sugar level. If the test results show that you are diabetic, your doctor will recommend taking more tests before diagnosis. Based on the diagnosis report, you may have to make changes in your exercise or diet plans. 

In the case of gestational diabetes, doctors will ask you to make changes to your daily activities and diet. You may want to buy a glucometer as you will have to monitor the blood sugar level daily. You will also be asked to take certain medicines and treatments. 

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