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A1C vs Blood Sugar: What Are We Looking At?

A1C vs Blood Sugar: What Are We Looking At?

Find out how both blood tests give important insights into your health.

Checking your blood sugar and tracking your numbers is an important part of your diabetes care plan. Both your GLP-1GLP-1A hormone produced in the gut that helps the pancreas release insulin to move sugar from the blood into the cells. It stimulates the beta cells in the pancreas to release insulin when blood sugar is high after you eat. It also helps to lower the amount of sugar produced by the liver and slows down the emptying of the stomach. and your blood sugarBlood sugarOr blood glucose. The main sugar (glucose) found in the blood, and the body’s main source of energy. levels show how well you’re managing your diabetes. But what’s the difference between these two tests?

Measuring blood sugar

Measuring your blood sugar (or glucose) can show how well your diabetes is controlled from one day to the next. It’s something you can do at home. This test can:

  • Show you how well your medicines are working
  • Show how physical activity and the foods you eat affect your blood sugar
  • Help you avoid low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and high blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
  • Help you see the changes in your blood sugar and can help you better understand how physical activity, your diet, and stress affect blood sugar levels

Measuring A1C levels

The A1C test gives the big picture when it comes to your blood sugar. It shows how well you’re controlling your blood sugar over time by measuring the average blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months. It’s like a “memory” of your blood sugar levels. This is a test you’ll have done at your doctor’s office.

How do A1C levels relate to average blood sugar levels?

When you get your A1C result, you may see a blood sugar reading next to it. This is another way of showing your average blood sugar levels using the same measurement that you see on your meter, mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter).

a1c average blood sugar levels

Setting your blood sugar goals

These are the goals that the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends for adults with diabetes who are not pregnant. However, your doctor will personalize your plan and set goals that are right for you.

How often should you check your blood sugar?

You and your doctor will decide when and how often you should check your blood sugar. How diabetes affects the body is different for each person and changes over time. So, depending on what medicines you’re taking and your doctor's direction, your blood sugar testing schedule may change.

You should ask your doctor when you should call with your blood sugar results. For example, they might say that you should call if your blood sugar levels are lower or higher than usual. Guidelines from the ADA recommend that people contact their doctor if:

  • You have been sick for 1 or 2 days without getting better
  • You are taking oral medicine and have a pre-meal blood sugar level that is 250 mg/dL or higher and stays high for over 24 hours, no matter when you test

Progress, not perfection

Remember that it’s almost impossible to keep your blood sugar at an ideal level all the time. From time to time, almost everyone with diabetes will experience either high blood sugar or low blood sugar.

Reviewing your blood sugar readings with your diabetes care teamDiabetes care teamYour diabetes care team may include: a primary care doctor, a diabetes and hormone doctor (endocrinologist), a registered nurse, a diabetes educator, a dietician, a heart doctor (cardiologist), a foot doctor (podiatrist), an eye doctor (ophthalmologist/optometrist), a kidney doctor (nephrologist), a dentist, a pharmacist, and a mental health professional. can help you find things that can cause your blood sugar to go too high or too low. That way, you can make the changes you need to stay on track!

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