Blood sugar: norm and target values

Understanding blood glucose levels is a key skill in self-managing diabetes. In this article, we look at target blood sugar ranges for people without diabetes and for adults and children with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

If you are self-monitoring with a glucometer , you need to understand what the numbers are saying (blood sugar readings).

Recommended blood sugar levels are subject to individual interpretation, so you should discuss your target blood sugar ranges with your healthcare professional.

The following ranges are guidelines provided by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), but each person’s target range should be agreed upon by their physician or diabetes consultant.

Recommended Blood Glucose Levels

The NICE recommended blood glucose levels are listed below for adults with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and children with type 1 diabetes.

In addition, the target group of the International Diabetes Federation for people without diabetes is indicated.

The table provides general recommendations. The individual goal set by your doctor is the one you should aim for.

Normal and diabetic blood sugar levels

For most healthy people, normal blood sugar levels look like this:

  • from 4.0 to 5.4 mmol / l during fasting.
  • up to 7.8 mmol / l 2 hours after eating.

For people with diabetes, blood sugar levels are as follows:

  • Before meals : 4 to 7 mmol/l for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
  • After meals : up to 9 mmol/l for people with type 1 diabetes and less than 8.5 mmol/l for people with type 2 diabetes.

Blood sugar levels in the diagnosis of diabetes

A blood sample for a random plasma glucose test can be taken at any time. It does not require such planning and is therefore used in the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes when time is of the essence.

Fasting plasma glucose test

A fasting plasma glucose test is taken after at least eight hours of fasting and is therefore usually taken in the morning. The NICE guidelines consider a fasting plasma glucose result of 5.5 to 6.9 mmol/L as someone has a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, especially when accompanied by other risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.

Glucose tolerance test (OGTT)

An oral glucose tolerance test involves first taking a fasting blood sample and then taking a very sweet drink containing 75 g of glucose.

After you drink this drink, you need to stay still until another blood sample is taken 2 hours later.

HbA1c test for diabetic diagnosis

The HbA1c test does not directly measure blood glucose levels, however the result of the test depends on how high or low the blood glucose level is, typically lasting 2 to 3 months.

Indications for diabetes or pre- diabetes are given under the following conditions:

  • Normal: below 42 mmol/mol (6.0%)
  • Pre-diabetes : 42 to 47 mmol/mol (6.0 to 6.4%)
  • Diabetes: 48 mmol/mol (6.5% or more)

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