What is considered a normal blood sugar level?
The glucose level for a healthy adult (without diabetes) should be less than 126 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) or 6 mmol/L (millimole per litre) before fasting and meals, and below 200mg/dL (or 11 mmol/L) two hours after meals.
If you are diabetic, then you should consult with your doctor in order for appropriate blood sugar level targets to be set based on the severity of your condition, medications taken and overall health status.
The below information describes what normal blood sugar levels are prior to and after meals and what the recommended HbA1c levels are for those with and without diabetes.
A HbA1c test determines your average level of blood glucose over the past two to three months. Red blood cells have a lifespan of roughly three months, and a HbA1c blood test measures the amount of glucose that has bound to them during this period.
A blood test to determine Haemoglobin A1c levels is often performed in those who have diabetes. These levels are a reflection of how well diabetes is being controlled.
Blood sugar level chart
- Normal reading for nondiabetic person = 70–99 mg/dl (3.9–6 mmol/L)
- The recommendation for someone who is diabetic = 80–130 mg/dl (4.5–7.2 mmol/L)
Two hours after a meal
- Normal reading for nondiabetic person = Below 140 mg/dl (11 mmol/L)
- The recommendation for someone who is diabetic = Below 180 mg/dl (10.0 mmol/L)
- Normal reading for nondiabetic person = Below 5.7%
- The recommendation for someone who is diabetic = 7% or less
**My Med Memo – The measurement ‘mmol’ is the abbreviation for millimole.
What is high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia)?
If your blood sugar levels are chronically higher than normal, then this is referred to as hyperglycaemia. This is a common issue for those suffering from diabetes. The condition can also affect pregnant women who have gestational diabetes and occasionally those who are severely ill (i.e. have suffered a stroke, heart attack or severe infection).
Some of the symptoms of hyperglycaemia include:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Issues with concentration and/or thinking
If severe hyperglycaemia is left untreated the condition can lead to organ and tissue damage as the excess glucose present in the body can make it difficult for the organs and cells to function correctly. The disorder can also impair the immune system response in the healing of wounds and cuts.
Other severe symptoms of hyperglycaemia include:
- Nerve damage
- Visual issues
- Kidney damage
- Blood vessel damage
Mild hyperglycaemia, depending on the cause, will not typically require medical treatment. Most people with this condition can lower their blood sugar levels sufficiently through dietary and lifestyle changes.
Those with type 1 diabetes will require the administration of insulin (usually via injection), while those with type 2 diabetes will often use a combination of injectable and oral medications (anti-diabetic medications), although some may also require insulin.
What is low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia)?
Hypoglycaemia is a condition wherein blood sugar levels are too low. This condition affects a number of diabetic people when their bodies do not have enough glucose to use as energy. Hypoglycaemia is commonly the result of taking too much of the medication/s prescribed to treat diabetes, eating less than expected, exercising more than normal or skipping meals.
Some of the symptoms of hypoglycaemia include:
- A pale face
- Unexplained fatigue
- Excessive perspiration
- Skin tingling
- Trembling in hands and other body parts
- Blurry vision
- Rapid heart rate
The key to treating low blood sugar is to eat something rich in carbohydrates such as a granola bar, fruit, fruit juice or cookies if you begin to show any of the above-mentioned symptoms. Those who have low blood sugar are often aware of this and will tend to carry something to eat on them in case of a hyperglycaemic episode.