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Navigating the Numbers: A Guide to Understanding Blood Sugar Levels

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Decoding Blood Sugar: Understanding What's Normal and What's Not

Hey Team,

Women check her blood sugar
Checking your sugars

Welcome back to the Diabetic Guide. This week, we're focusing on a crucial aspect of diabetes management - understanding blood sugar levels.

What is Blood Sugar?

Blood sugar, or glucose, is the main sugar found in your blood. It comes from the food you eat and is your body's primary source of energy. Your bloodstream carries glucose to all of your body's cells to use for energy.

What's Considered Normal?

Blood sugar levels can vary depending on when and what you last ate, and if you have been exercising. Here are the general guidelines for normal blood sugar levels:

  • Fasting (before meals): 70-99 mg/dL (3.9-5.5 mmol/L)

  • Postprandial (1-2 hours after meals): Less than 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L)

Pre-diabetic Blood Sugar Levels:

  • Fasting: 100-125 mg/dL (5.6-6.9 mmol/L)

  • Postprandial (1-2 hours after meals): 140-199 mg/dL (7.8-11.0 mmol/L)

  • Hemoglobin A1c (a test that measures your average blood sugar over the past 2-3 months): 5.7% to 6.4%

Diabetic Blood Sugar Levels:

  • Fasting: 126 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests

  • Postprandial (1-2 hours after meals): 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) or higher

  • Hemoglobin A1c: 6.5% or higher on two separate tests

When to See a Doctor:

  • If your blood sugar levels are consistently outside of the normal range.

  • If you experience symptoms of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) such as increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision, and unexplained weight loss.

  • If you experience symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) like dizziness, shakiness, sweating, and rapid heartbeat.

  • If you have risk factors for diabetes, such as a family history, obesity, or a sedentary lifestyle.

  • Regular check-ups are recommended for those with pre-diabetes or other risk factors, as early intervention can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.

It's essential to consult with a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and personalized advice.

Please note, these ranges can vary slightly depending on the source, and individual targets can vary based on age, presence of other health conditions, and how long you've had diabetes. Always consult with your healthcare provider for your specific targets.


Highs and Lows

Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, can occur when your body has too little insulin or when your body can't use insulin properly. Symptoms can include frequent urination, increased thirst, and high levels of sugar in the urine. A blood sugar level of 180 mg/dL (10 mmol/L) or higher is considered high.

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can occur when your blood sugar levels drop below 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L). Symptoms can include shaking, sweating, fast heartbeat, and blurred vision. A blood sugar level below 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L) is considered low.


Managing High and Low Blood Sugar Levels

When You Have High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia):

  1. Monitor Closely: If you suspect your blood sugar is high, test it with a glucose meter. This will give you an accurate reading and help you decide what steps to take next.

  2. Stay Hydrated: Drinking water can help flush out some of the excess sugar through urine.

  3. Exercise: A light walk or gentle exercise can help lower blood sugar. However, if your blood sugar is above 240 mg/dL (13.3 mmol/L) and ketones are present in your urine, avoid exercise as it may elevate your blood sugar even more.

  4. Medication: If you're on insulin or other diabetes medications, you might need to adjust your dose. Always consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes.

When You Have Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia):

  1. Act Quickly: Low blood sugar can be dangerous, so it's essential to treat it immediately.

  2. Consume Sugar: Have a fast-acting source of sugar. This could be glucose tablets, a glass of fruit juice, a tablespoon of honey, or a handful of raisins.

  3. Recheck Blood Sugar: After 15 minutes, test your blood sugar again. If it's still below 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L), have another serving of sugar.

  4. Avoid Over-Treating: It's easy to consume too much sugar in a panic. Stick to the recommended amount and wait to see if your levels rise.

  5. Stabilize: Once your blood sugar returns to normal, eat a protein or complex carbohydrate snack to stabilize it. This could be a handful of nuts, a slice of whole-grain bread, or a yogurt.

Prevention Tips:

  1. Always Carry a Sugar Source: Whether it's glucose gel, candy, or a juice box, always have something on hand to treat low blood sugar.

  2. Regular Monitoring: Regularly checking your blood sugar levels can help you understand your body's patterns and anticipate highs and lows.

  3. Balanced Meals: Eating balanced meals at regular intervals can help maintain stable blood sugar levels. Include a mix of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in your diet.

  4. Educate Loved Ones: Ensure that family members, friends, and colleagues know the signs of low and high blood sugar and how they can help.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your healthcare provider or a qualified medical professional regarding any health concerns or conditions. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

Remember, while these tips can be helpful, it's essential to work closely with your healthcare provider to create a personalized plan that's right for you.

As always, if you have any questions or need assistance, feel free to reach out to us at

Best Regards,


Diabetic Guide Team

Share this email with friends and family who might benefit from this information. Let's spread awareness together!

Please note that this information is intended for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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