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What is a blood glucose test?

A blood glucose test measures the amount of glucose in your blood. Glucose, a type of simple sugar, is your body’s main source of energy. Your body converts the carbohydrates you eat into glucose.

Glucose testing is primarily done for people with type 1 & type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. Diabetes is a condition that causes your blood glucose levels to rise.

The amount of sugar in your blood is usually controlled by a hormone called insulin. However, if you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or the insulin produced doesn’t work properly. This causes sugar to build up in your blood. Increased levels of blood sugar can lead to severe organ damage if left untreated.

In some cases, blood glucose testing may also be used to test for hypoglycaemia. This condition occurs when the levels of glucose in your blood are too low.

Why is it so important to check my blood levels?

Regular checking and recording of your blood glucose level can reinforce your healthy lifestyle choices as well as inform you of your response to other choices and influences.

Importantly, blood glucose level pattern changes can alert you and your health care team to a possible need for a change in how your diabetes is being managed.

What should I aim for?

Effective management of diabetes is all about aiming for a careful balance between the foods you eat, how active you are and the medication you take for your diabetes. Because this is a delicate balance, it can be quite difficult to achieve the best possible blood glucose management all the time.

The ranges will vary depending on the individual and an individual’s circumstances. While it is important to keep your blood glucose levels as close to the target range of target range between 4 to 6 mmol/L (fasting) as possible to prevent complications, it is equally important to check with your doctor or Credentialed Diabetes Educator for the range of blood glucose levels that are right and safe for you. Therefore the following information should be treated only as a general guide.

Glucose level targets:

Blood glucose levels are measured in millimoles per litre of blood (mmol/L). Target ranges may differ depending on your age, duration of diabetes, the type of medication you are taking and if you have any other medical problems. Speak with your doctor about your individual target ranges.

Normal blood glucose levels are between 4.0–7.8mmol/L.

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What to expect during a blood glucose test

A blood sample will be collected with a very simple prick to a finger with a lancing device.

The blood sample will be applied to the test strip in the blood glucose monitor where the result will be displayed.

How to prepare for a blood glucose test

Blood glucose tests are either random or fasting test.

For a fasting blood glucose test, you can’t eat or drink anything but water for eight hours before your test. You may want to schedule a fasting glucose test first thing in the morning so you don’t have to fast during the day. You may eat and drink before a random glucose test.

Fasting tests are more common because they provide more accurate results and are easier to interpret.

Before your test, tell your pharmacist about the medications you’re taking, including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and herbal supplements. Certain medications can affect blood glucose levels.

Medications that can affect your blood glucose levels include:

  • corticosteroids
  • diuretics
  • birth control pills
  • hormone therapy
  • aspirin 
  • antipsychotics
  • lithium
  • tricyclic antidepresants
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • ·phenytoin
  • sulfonylurea medications

Severe stress or illness can also cause a temporary increase in your blood glucose. Tell you pharmacist if you have recently been ill or stressed before the test.

Diabetes and the blood glucose test

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and teenagers whose bodies aren’t able to produce enough insulin. It’s a chronic or long-term condition that requires continuous treatment. Late-onset type 1 diabetes has been shown to affect people between the ages of 30 and 40.

Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in overweight and obese adults, but it can develop in younger people as well. This condition occurs when your body doesn’t make enough insulin or when the insulin you produce doesn’t work properly. The impact of type 2 diabetes may be reduced through weight loss and healthy eating.

Gestational diabetes occurs if you develop diabetes while you’re pregnant. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after you give birth.

After receiving a diagnosis of diabetes, you may have to get blood glucose tests to determine if your condition is being managed well. A high glucose level in a person with diabetes may mean that your diabetes isn’t being managed correctly.

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