- What Is A Blood Glucose Blood Test?
- Diabetes And The Blood Glucose Blood Test
- How To Prepare For A Blood Glucose Test
- What To Expect During A Blood Glucose Test?
- Risk Associated With A Blood Glucose Test
- Understand The Results Of A Blood Glucose Test
- Tips To Naturally Manage Blood Sugar Levels
Diabetes is one of the most common conditions among the worldwide population. An estimated 10.5% of the adult American population has been affected by diabetes. This accounts for about 34.2 million people in the country1.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of the disease. This is often considered a preventable disease.
Testing for diabetes is essential. This should be done in people with signs of high blood sugar levels. The initial procedure involves a blood glucose test. This test reveals the level of sugar in the patient’s blood. It helps the doctor determine if there are abnormalities with blood glucose control in the patient.
We take a closer look at what a glucose blood test is. This article also focuses on how the test helps with the diagnosis and management of diabetes. We consider what normal results are. We also look at what happens when the test produces abnormal results.
What Is A Blood Glucose Blood Test?
A blood glucose test is a way of determining the amount of sugar in the blood. The sugar is often referred to as glucose instead. The test has a few purposes. The primary goal is to help determine if a patient may have diabetes.
There are a few reasons why a blood glucose test is used. It is not only used as a diagnostic tool. People with diabetes regularly need to undergo a blood glucose test. This gives them the ability to determine when they have a spike in blood glucose. It also helps to detect other problems, such as hypoglycemia.
A doctor can make several conclusions by looking at the results of a blood glucose test. The doctor may determine that changes need to be made to the person’s diet or perhaps their exercise routine.
The doctor can also determine if diabetes treatment is working effectively. This allows appropriate adjustments to be made. In such a case, the treatment may not be effective enough. There are also cases where treatment is too potent.
Blood glucose levels are often measured as part of a patient’s routine checkup. This helps the doctor identify signs of diabetes early on. It can help to diagnose prediabetes. This is when blood glucose levels are too high. It is not high enough to diagnose diabetes, however.
The test itself involves the use of a needle. The needle is used to prick the patient’s finger. The blood is then placed on a special stick. The stick is then placed into a device. The device detects the amount of sugar in the blood sample. It then displays the results on a screen2.
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Diabetes And The Blood Glucose Blood Test
Blood glucose tests serve as an important part of the management and diagnosis of diabetes. It is not the only test used to confirm a diagnosis of diabetes.
The doctor can detect abnormal blood glucose levels in the patient with this test. Additional tests may then be requested. This helps the doctor make a more accurate diagnosis. It also helps to differentiate between prediabetes and diabetes.
When diagnosed, the patient will be requested to perform a blood glucose test regularly. This is often done daily. It ensures the patient can monitor their blood sugar levels.
In some cases, the patient will need to keep a journal. The daily readings from the test should be recorded in the journal. The journal is then presented to the doctor. It helps the doctor see if the patient’s treatment is working.
Additional tests may be requested in patients with diabetes. This includes an oral glucose tolerance test. A fasting blood glucose test is also essential to diagnose the condition.
Causes Of High Blood Glucose
There are many reasons why blood glucose levels may rise. This is called hyperglycemia. It means there is too much glucose in the bloodstream. Both fasting and postprandial hyperglycemia need to be considered.
Fasting hyperglycemia is when blood glucose levels are high even when the patient has not had a meal within eight hours. In such a case, there is a spike in fasting blood sugar levels. Postprandial hyperglycemia refers to high blood glucose after eating. This is not the same as high fasting blood glucose levels.
Patients need to understand what may cause a significant spike in their blood glucose levels. Consider the following possible causes3:
- High levels of stress can cause a spike in blood glucose levels.
- Eating a significant amount of carbohydrates can be a cause.
- Eating more carbs than what the administered insulin can handle may lead to high blood glucose.
- People with an infection have an increased risk of hyperglycemia.
- When a person does not exercise enough, they may also experience elevated levels of blood sugar.
- Strenuous exercise may also be a problem. This may cause insulin levels to decline. In turn, blood glucose levels may rise.
- If a patient forgets to administer insulin, they may also experience hyperglycemia. The same applies to people who forget to use oral medication to manage blood glucose.
There are some cases where general illness may also lead to an increase in blood sugar levels. This can sometimes cause hyperglycemia too.
Causes Of Low Blood Sugar
People with diabetes do not only experience hyperglycemia. Sometimes, there may be a dip in blood glucose levels also. This can lead to hypoglycemia. It means there is an insufficient amount of glucose in the bloodstream.
Hypoglycemia can lead to many adverse symptoms. There are times where the patient may faint and lose consciousness. In severe cases, life-threatening complications can develop.
People must understand what may cause a decline in their blood sugar levels too. Some of the possible causes including4:
- Administering a higher amount of insulin than is needed.
- Taking oral medication that is too strong.
- Skipping important meals of the day.
- Waiting too long between different meals. This especially happens when no snacks are added in between.
- Not following a daily schedule where medication and meals are consumed at the same time.
- Intense exercise without eating an appropriate meal beforehand.
- Taking alcohol with diabetes medication may also lead to hypoglycemia.
- Some types of drugs can cause low blood sugar. Quinine is one example of such medication.
- Kidney disorders may also lead to hypoglycemia. Another condition that can cause a decline in blood sugar levels is hepatitis.
- A tumor affecting the pancreas should be considered too. This causes an excess amount of insulin to be released.
- Adrenal gland deficiency can lead to hypoglycemia. There are a few other endocrine disorders that can also cause such problems.
How To Prepare For A Blood Glucose Test
You don’t need to do much preparation for a blood glucose test. If the patient is not administering the test themselves, they will need to visit a doctor’s office. The patient should understand how the test works. They should also make sure they understand what the results mean.
The patient should ensure they get the appropriate instructions from the doctor. The doctor may ask the patient not to eat food or drink anything a few hours before the test is administered. These instructions should be followed. The doctor might want to perform a fasting blood sugar test.
The patient should also avoid excess exercise before the test. This can alter the results. In such a case, the results of the blood glucose test may not be accurate.
It is also important to avoid eating foods that are known to cause a spike in blood sugar levels before the test. These may also alter the results that will be obtained.
The patient will be asked a few questions. This may include any symptoms they have experienced recently. The doctor may also ask the patient if they have a family history of diabetes. This information can help the doctor determine the risk of diabetes in the patient.
Medications That Affect Blood Glucose
People need to understand that there are a few medications that may affect their blood glucose levels. Fasting plasma glucose can be affected by these drugs too.
When these drugs are taken prior to a test, the results may not be accurate. The patient should ensure the doctor knows about any medication they are taking. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter medicine.
The drugs that can cause an increase in blood glucose levels include5:
- Birth control drugs.
- Certain antipsychotic medications, including Zyprexa.
- Hydrocortisone and prednisone. Cortisone steroids can also cause an increase in blood sugar.
- Progesterone pills.
- Catecholamine agents. This is found in an EpiPen. Some asthma inhalers also contain catecholamine agents.
- Thiazide diuretics can also lead to an increase in blood glucose levels.
- Pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in some decongestants, may also lead to similar effects.
Some drugs may cause blood glucose levels to decline. A few examples include:
- Magnesium salicylate
It is important to note that there are also supplements that may alter blood glucose levels. Asian ginseng and aloe are two common ones. Patients should take a full list of supplements they use to the doctor as well.
What To Expect During A Blood Glucose Test?
A needle will be used during a blood glucose test. This is something that patients need to take into consideration. The needle will not be pushed deeper into the skin. Only a small prick is made with the needle. Most people find that prick is painless. A small alcohol rub may be used on the finger before the needle is used.
The doctor will use a new and clean needle. Sometimes, a glucose testing pen is used instead. This looks like a pen. It contains a needle on the inside. The tip of the pen is placed on the finger.
A button is pressed. This causes a needle to prick the finger. There may be a quick sensation of pain as the needle pierces the skin. It should not cause lasting pain.
Once the finger is pricked, the blood is placed on a testing strip. The doctor then places the strip in a blood glucose testing device. The device will only take a few seconds to provide a reading.
If a patient is suspected of having diabetes, they may be referred for further testing. In such a case, a blood sample may be required. This helps to diagnose diabetes. It also helps to identify other problems, such as insulin resistance.
A glucose challenge test may be ordered too. In such a case, a glucose drink may be provided to the patient. It is important to use these tests. The patient should understand the difference between prediabetes and diabetes.
Risk Associated With A Blood Glucose Test
A blood glucose test is a safe procedure. It does not involve any severe risks that the patient should consider before undergoing the procedure. Some patients may experience a short-lived pain sensation when the needle pricks their finger.
There may be some redness at the area where the needle was used to price the patient’s finger. Some patients may experience mild inflammation at the site too.
When blood is drawn from a vein, the pain may last a little longer. There may also be temporary bruising in the area. These symptoms will go away quickly. The patient is unlikely to experience any other side-effects when they undergo a blood glucose test.
Understand The Results Of A Blood Glucose Test
The results of a blood glucose test are generally instant. The test strip is placed on the device. The device then takes a few seconds to measure blood glucose in the blood sample. A screen is used to present the doctor or patient with the reading.
It is crucial that the person understands what the test results mean. People with normal results usually have no need to be concerned. A patient should be able to recognize abnormal results too. This ensures they know their risk for diabetes. It also ensures action is taken to control blood sugar.
Normal results depend on the time of day and whether a person has recently had a meal. The normal range should always be under 140 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter).
Before a person eats breakfast, dinner, or lunch, their blood sugar should ideally be below 70-99 mg/dL. About two hours after the person had a meal, a normal range is considered up to 140 mg/dL. A person that is not diabetic should not have a blood glucose reading that exceeds 140 mg/dL.
A person with diabetes or one who is prediabetic will generally have higher results than those who are not diabetic. It also depends on the time of the day that the test is administered.
For people with diabetes, results will generally be between 80 and 130 mg/dL before they have a meal – such as breakfast or dinner. About two hours after eating, a diabetic patient may experience a blood glucose result of up to 180 mg/dL.
If the results are higher than these, it means they are abnormal. In such a case, the patient is experiencing hyperglycemia. The person’s risk of suffering adverse effects becomes higher.
Tips To Naturally Manage Blood Sugar Levels
There are a few ways to manage blood sugar levels. Insulin is often prescribed for patients with diabetes. This is usually administered through an injection. This is a standard treatment option for type 2 diabetes6. The treatment is often called insulin therapy. There are oral drugs available too.
Many people try to manage diabetes without drugs. The medicines available come with certain side-effects. A few natural strategies have been proven successful. We take a look at practical ways that people can manage their blood sugar levels below.
Diet is one of the most important factors. What a person eats plays a significant role in their blood glucose levels. Eating too many carbs causes a spike in blood glucose levels. The same goes for foods and drinks that are filled with sugar content.
People should rather opt for a whole-food diet that combines a wide range of vegetables and fruits. These foods are known to be high in antioxidants.
A large number of vegetables and fruit options are low in carbs, yet high in nutrients. This helps to deliver essential nutrients to the body without causing a spike in insulin levels.
Some of the best foods that a person with diabetes can eat include7:
These foods help to add essential nutrients to the body. They will not cause a significant spike in blood sugar.
There are also some foods that people should avoid. This includes sugary beverages like soft drinks and sodas. People should also avoid candy and milk chocolate. Some foods are high in carbohydrates. The carbs are broken down into sugars during the digestive process. This can cause a rise in blood sugar levels. Eating too many carbs can lead to hyperglycemia.
Exercise should also form part of a diabetes treatment plan. People already realize the importance of physical activity. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with an increased risk of diabetes.
People are also more likely to become obese when they are not physically active. Being inactive causes a caloric surplus. This means more calories are consumed than the amount burnt. Obesity, in turn, further increases the risk of diabetes.
Appropriate exercise helps a person lose excess weight. This already helps to reduce the risk of diabetes. For diabetic patients, exercise is a great way to help control blood sugar levels. It ensures the sugar in their blood has a purpose. As the person exercises, the sugar is used to produce energy within the body.
It should be noted that strenuous and too much physical activity could be bad too. This may lead to adverse effects instead of being a beneficial way of managing diabetes.
Stress is something that most people suffer from today. High-stress levels have been linked to an increase in blood sugar levels. It is crucial to managing stress – particularly in patients with diabetes. This can help to bring blood glucose levels down.
There are also a few supplements that can be helpful. Ben’s Glucose Control is one example of such a supplement. The supplement focuses on helping to control blood glucose levels.
At the same time, it helps with weight loss. Obesity and diabetes have a strong link. Thus, by helping the person lose weight, it provides additional benefits to assist in the fight against diabetes.
A blood glucose test is crucial in the diagnosis of diabetes. It is used as an initial test. These tests are also crucial in the management of the disease. Patients with diabetes should monitor their blood glucose levels.
Blood glucose tests can be done at home. This provides an easy way to detect a spike in blood sugar levels. Several strategies can be used to control blood glucose levels. This includes medications and lifestyle changes. A few supplements may also be useful.