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Keeping blood sugar in range

Why is staying in range for blood sugar important? 

Have you ever noticed the safety guardrails when you drive? Why are they there? You have some freedom to drive as you wish. But if you or I travel outside the guardrails, we are in dangerous territory. Knowing the range keeps us traveling safely. It is kind of like that with your blood sugar ranges. Knowing your blood sugar ranges helps keep you out of bad situations and on the road healthy and happy. Your doctor can help you know what your normal ranges (or guardrails) should be. For more information about that, see How To Make Sense of Blood Sugar Numbers.

Studies have shown that there are many benefits to staying in a normal blood glucose range.

  • Better knowledge of diabetes and self-care behaviors.
  • Lower A1c numbers.
  • Lower self-reported weight.
  • Improved quality of life.
  • Healthy coping behavior.
  • And reduced health care costs1.

What is the difference in HbA1c and glucose levels?

When checking your blood sugar (or glucose) using a meter, you can see how much sugar is in your blood at that single moment in time. As you check more often, you can start to see patterns, ups and downs through the day.

However, if you want to see blood sugar over time, the HbA1c (also called A1c) test is a good measure. The HbA1c indicates how much sugar has attached to your blood over the past few months. It can help you and your doctor see a broader view of the ups, downs, and the average. The number is given as a percentage and is best at 7% or below.

What is the difference in HbA1c and my checks using my meter?

When checking your blood sugar (or glucose) using a meter, you can see how much sugar is in your blood at that single moment in time. As you check more often, you can start to see patterns, ups and downs through the day.

However, if you want to see blood sugar over time, the HbA1c (also called A1c) test is a good measure. The HbA1c indicates how much sugar has attached to your blood over the past few months. It can help you and your doctor see a broader view of the ups, downs, and the average. The number is given as a percentage and is best at 7% or below.

Still, because it's an average, the A1c shouldn’t be used by itself. Think about it like a roller coaster. You can have steep ups and downs or mild ups and downs and average about the same in the middle. One roller coaster is hair-raising and the other is pretty mild.

How do I keep my blood sugar levels in range? 

While everyone is different, there are some common things that you can do to help keep blood sugar in range. Along with eating a good diet and regular activity, the Center for Disease Control lists these helpful tips:

  • Try to stay consistent in meal times.
  • During meals, eat moderate or smaller food portions.
  • Drink plenty of water and try to avoid juice or soda.
  • Limit your alcoholic drinks.
  • When your sweet treat calls, try fruit first.
  • Use an app or paper tool to track what you eat and exercise2.

Life is better when you are in the normal range. 

You have many places to go and things to do. We know it is hard to constantly think about diabetes and make changes to keep your blood sugar within that normal range. But staying in your range (your safety guardrails) can bring more to your life. It lowers your risk of health problems farther down the road. Working to keep your blood sugar in range daily can help you have more energy, sleep better and even be in a better mood every day3That can mean a lot to your day-to-day happiness. And, you don't have to wait for long to see benefits from staying in range.

How to know more about blood sugar ranges? 

If you want to know more, you can check out the article How To Make Sense of Blood Sugar Numbers. Or, you can click on the medical links below.

References:

  1. American Diabetes Association (2017). Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes Position Statement 4. Lifestyle Management. Retrieved from: https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/40/Supplement_1/S33.  Accessed May 18 2021.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Manage Blood sugar. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/manage-blood-sugar.html#:~:text=Ea...'t%20skip%20meals. Accessed May 18 2021.
  3. Polonsky WH. Diabetes Burnout: What to Do When You Can't Take It Anymore. Alexandria, VA: American Diabetes Association; 1999:15. Accessed June 30, 2015.

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