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What is a desirable blood glucose level?

A normal blood glucose level is 4-7mmol/l.

Your doctor may provide you with a blood glucose meter and prescribe you blood glucose strips and lancets to prick your finger. Not everyone with type 2 diabetes will be advised to test their own blood glucose. If your Hba1c is good and you are not at risk of hypoglycaemia (see below) then it is likely you will not need to test your blood glucose at home.
This is not to be confused with the Hba1c which is a blood test that identifies the blood glucose level over 3 months. This is the main test that can tell you and your healthcare professional what your levels generally are in the longer term and relates to your risks of ill health as a consequence of your diabetes.

The Hba1c units have been changed to mmol/mol but some people maybe more familiar with the older system which was a %. Below is the conversion chart which also shows desirable levels.

 

Hba1c conversion chart

Some of the signs and symptoms of a raised blood glucose are

  • feeling very thirsty

  • peeing more frequently than usual, particularly at night

  • feeling very tired

  • weight loss and loss of muscle bulk

  • itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush

  • cuts or wounds that heal slowly

  • blurred vision

Please be aware once you have your blood glucose levels treated most of the above symptoms will improve as they are symptoms of a high blood glucose not symptoms of diabetes. The aim of treatment for diabetes is to help you maintain a normal blood glucose level.

Hyperglycaemia

This is sometimes called hyper and happens when the blood glucose goes too high (above 7mmol/l before a meal and above 8.5mmol/l 2 hours after a meal).

This can happen if

    •you miss your medication.

    •You eat a lot of carbohydrate

    •If you are unwell i.e. fighting off an infection

    •If you are very stressed.

The symptoms of hyperglycaemia include

    •Excessive thirst

   •Passing more urine than normal especially at night

    •Tiredness

    •Irritability

    •Headache

How to treat hyperglycaemia

Occasional high blood glucose levels are unlikely to cause you any long-term harm but if they happen a lot please contact your healthcare professional.

Drinking lots of carbohydrate free liquids is advised. Water is always the best option.

If you have high blood glucose levels and are vomiting and feeling very unwell get urgent medical attention as this can indicate a dangerous condition that can develop in people with diabetes called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This is not common in people with type 2 diabetes.

Hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic State (HHS) can occur in people with type 2 diabetes if they have extremely high blood glucose levels (often over 40mmol/l). It is not common but is very serious and requires urgent medical attention. It is most likely to occur in a person who has been fighting an infection and has become dehydrated.

Hypoglycaemia

This is sometimes called hypo. It means low blood glucose and can be dangerous if not treated. Not everyone with diabetes is at risk of hypoglycaemia it is mostly people who are on insulin and some types of diabetes medication . Please ask your healthcare professional if you maybe at risk of hypos.

For more information on hypos, please refer to:-

https://trend-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/A5_Hypo_TREND.pdf

It is also important to know if you are at risk of hypos if you drive, as you will need to check your blood glucose before driving to ensure you are safe to drive. Remember ( 5 to drive) as your blood glucose must be above 5mmol/l to be safe to drive.

For more important information on driving when you have diabetes, please refer to:-

https://trend-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/A5_Driving_TREND.pdf

© 2018 DWELL - Diabetes and Wellbeing

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