Understanding Blood Glucose Levels: What Do Glucometer Readings Mean?

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अनबीटेबल- सतीश राव

Before we delve into the question “What Your Glucometer Readings Mean”, let us first understand the two distinct types of tests available today.

Blood Glucose Test Type 1 – One of the most popular and personalised ways to test your blood glucose levels is via a capillary method. It may sound overwhelming and overtly scientific, but it is not. This type of test is done by pricking the finger with glucometer lancets. The resultant drop of blood is then placed on the test strip, which is inserted into a glucometer device. And voila, the reading pops up on the screen within seconds!

Blood Glucose Test Type 2 – This is a professional option and typically uses a robust and large analyzer for blood sugar levels. A healthcare professional/lab assistant will draw blood from the vein, collect the same in a glass reservoir, and then analyse this sample. The medical term for this type of test is “Veni-puncture”. A point to note is that the accuracy of this type of test is far more dependable than test type 1.

Either way, interpreting the reading correctly and then monitoring and managing the same is imperative. 

Introduction to Blood Glucose Monitoring –

Our food contains various nutrients, fats, proteins, and, of course, carbohydrates. Our body converts carbs into glucose through a complex metabolic process, which in turn is used by the body for its energy needs. One of the essential components of this process is a hormone called “Insulin”, made by the pancreas. Efficient production and use of this hormone play a significant role in keeping the blood sugar level in check. Blood glucose monitoring, generally initiated via glucometer, is a process of maintaining a record of these readings over a definite/indefinite timeline. 

Normal Blood Glucose Range –

At the very outset, you need to understand that there are 3 types of diabetes: type-1, type-2, and gestational. While the last variant is temporary and generally goes away on its own, type-1 appears out of the blue and mostly affects children. A routine test is then conducted after the symptoms surface. On the other hand, type-2 diabetes is quite secretive in nature and, therefore, difficult to detect in the early stages. This is why the world is seeing a massive spike in the pre-diabetic population. Doctors, therefore, advise people who are overweight, over 35 years or those with other illnesses such as high cholesterol/blood pressure, etc., to undergo blood sugar tests. Remember, normal blood glucose levels should be below 100 mg/dL (fasting) and below 140 mg/dL (full stomach).

Hyperglycaemia (High Blood Sugar) –

So, what exactly is Hyperglycemia? It is a term used for excessive sugar in the bloodstream. Hyperglycemia can occur in all types of diabetes (type-1, type-2, and gestational). Although the sudden spike in sugar levels is typically associated with type-1 and gestational variants, people with type-2 diabetes can also experience hyperglycemia if it is left untreated for a long time or the right medication is not prescribed. Some of the common symptoms associated with hyperglycemia are thirstiness, dry mouth, frequent desire to urinate, fatigue, and even blurred vision.  Glucometer use becomes mandatory in such cases.

Hypoglycaemia (Low Blood Sugar) –

Conversely, hypoglycemia is a term used for low blood sugar levels. So, what causes the glucose level to fall, and more importantly, is there a benchmark for this? First off, if a person has a reading of 69 mg/dL or lower, it is a sign of hypoglycemia. The low sugar level episode is generally experienced by people with type-1 and gestational (women) diabetes. That doesn’t mean people with type-2 diabetes cannot face this upheaval.  Strong or overdose of medicines and improper monitoring, especially after imbibing a new regime to counter diabetes, can cause hypoglycemia. People suffering from kidney/liver disease or those with hypothyroidism can also face this medical turbulence.

Interpreting Glucometer Readings –

Below is a ready reckoner in case you use a glucose meter to monitor your blood sugar level for whatever reason. However, your healthcare provider will ask you to do a lab test, typically A1C, in case your readings show signs of high or low count. This is to ensure that the recorded readings are not faulty and also to narrow down the cause/type of diabetes.

Healthy blood sugar reading (Fasting) – Should be between 70 mg/dL and 99 mg/dL. In case your reading is between 100 mg/dL and 125 mg/dL, it hints that you may be pre-diabetic. Anything beyond 126 mg/dL signals that you have diabetes. A word of caution—you must conduct several tests (glucometer machine) and a lab test before arriving at a conclusion. Even then, your healthcare provider will look into your medical history and perform supplementary tests to categorise you as someone with diabetes.

Factors Affecting Blood Glucose Levels –

Apart from faulty insulin production by the pancreas and insulin resistance, some of the other factors affecting blood glucose levels are stress, ailments such as thyroid, poor liver condition, consumption of medications to treat chronic illnesses, and excessive indulgence in alcohol and smoking. Even physical and mental trauma can disturb the production of insulin and thereby disrupt blood sugar levels.

Read More: The Essential Guide to Glucometer Strips – What People With Diabetes Should Know

Winding Up –

Understanding blood glucose levels is not rocket science. What is critical, though, is exploiting these signals to address the underlying issue/cause. You must also understand that high blood sugar levels do not mean you are pre-diabetic or diabetic. The reason for that spike could be temporary or due to a completely different medical condition or consumption of certain medications. In such a scenario, a simple glucometer reading will not suffice, especially when you have just started recording. What you need is professional healthcare support and lab tests such as A1C. Need a dedicated, one-stop shop for all your “diabetes” related needs? Yes! Then, visit BeatO’s website, an innovative start-up known for its personalized, 24/7 AI-based support, including expert health coaches and doctors.

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