Tag Archives: blood sugar levels

A Healthy A1C Level

Long View: What Does A1C Mean to Me?

Our community liaison team has never met a health fair or expo they didn’t love! Health fairs and expos are great places to learn about the abundance of services available in our communities to support seniors and their families.

With brightly colored, free shopping bags in hand, visitors gather pens, lip balms, and hand sanitizers, along with informational brochures and contact information for everything from beautiful, new living communities to financial planning. I’ve never seen so many butterscotch hard candies in one place since my grandmother’s candy dish in the 1970s.

Many health fairs and expos offer free checkups for various parts of your body and health. Participants aren’t the only ones taking advantage of a little free TLC. So far this summer, I’ve had the kinks rubbed out of my neck, the skin on my face analyzed for sun damage, and my blood pressure checked.

But one of the most interesting tests I’ve done recently came from my friends at Memorial Hospital in Carthage, IL. They measured my A1C level.

“What is A1C?” I asked, with a donut in one hand and a cup of coffee with cream in the other.

A1C is the measurement of the average blood sugar levels for the past 3 months, they told me. “Oh no,” I said. “I can’t get that done today. I’m eating a donut!”

The kind nurses assured me to sit down and relax. No fasting is required. In the blink of an eye, my finger was (painlessly) pricked, and a small amount of my blood slipped into a tiny little tube. The tube took a 5-minute spin in the centrifuge, and bingo, my A1C for the past 3 months is…. I’ll keep you in suspense until the end.

The National Diabetes Education Initiative recommends that diabetics have the A1C measurement taken at least twice a year. Everyone else should measure A1C once every 3 years. The nurses from Carthage recommended that most people should have measurements below 5.7%, since measurements between 5.7 and 6.4% indicate a greater risk for becoming diabetic.

The daily measurement of glucose levels is very important for diabetics who need to keep their levels within healthy ranges. Knowing your 2- to 3-month average can help you determine your overall glucose health, which in turn can help you make healthy choices throughout each day, like about sleeping, playing, working, eating, and more.

And if you don’t have diabetes, knowing if you have a higher than average A1C level can be a valuable piece of information to help you make healthy changes to curb your chances of getting diabetes at some point in your life.

Those who are already diabetic should strive to lower their A1C to at least 7% when possible. This could be a struggle for those who suffer from the disease, but the research points toward a much lower risk of developing diabetic complications like eye, heart, and kidney disease the closer you can get to 7%.

To tell you the truth, waiting for my blood to spin around for those 5 minutes in the centrifuge had me sweating a little. This could be the year my chickens come home to roost. I’ll be having one of those special birthdays next year where everyone wears black. I’m not exactly the healthiest eater. Leggings and stretchy-fabric pants have become my best friends.

This A1C measurement was an important wake-up call for me. The good news is that I measured well below 5.7%.

While I could have spiked the football, declared myself invincible, and grabbed a second donut, I didn’t. I decided to really pay attention to this information and be grateful for my health today, maybe take an extra walk around the block every week. Next year, I’m setting my sights on something in the high 4s.

Pass the kale.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

Managing Your Diabetes Instantly

Apps for Managing Your Diabetes

These days, we can do almost anything with our phones and tablets, and that includes getting help managing your diabetes. Check out these apps (and more) that the American Diabetes Association recommends.

Managing Your Diabetes On-the-Go

Glucose Buddy

Glucose Buddy has tools to track blood sugar levels, med doses, nutrition, and exercise, including handy graphs. And you can set up phone alerts to remind you when to check your levels.

Carb Counting with Lenny

This app makes learning to eat with type 1 diabetes fun and easy. There is a “Does This Food Have Carbs?” game and pictures of common foods with their carb counts.

Diabetes Nutrition by Fooducate

Eating smart is one of the best ways to control your diabetes. Diabetes Nutrition helps you do that by showing you what is actually in the foods you eat. Scan the barcode to see nutrition facts, added sweeteners, and a health grade for the food. When that food isn’t getting a great grade, just tap the screen to see healthier choices.

LogFrog DB

LogFrog helps track blood sugar levels with a frog as your guide. This app makes logging your levels feel like a game. Graphs show spikes in your levels to help you decide if you should change up your daily plan. You can also set alerts so you always remember to check levels and take your medicine on time. This app is a great option for helping your kids manage their diabetes.

GoMeals

GoMeals helps you eat right, even when you’re away from home. You can look up nutrition facts for restaurant meals and food. You can look at restaurant menus to help you plan ahead for smart choices. You can also track your foods and nutrition after eating.

Treating Diabetes with Glucose Checks

Treating Diabetes

There isn’t a cure for diabetes, but it is very treatable. Treating diabetes depends on which type of diabetes you have.

Type 1 Diabetes

Because those with type 1 diabetes can’t produce enough of their own insulin, they must treat their diabetes with insulin injections.

Type 2 Diabetes

For many, treatment for type 2 diabetes focuses on diet and exercise. If blood sugar levels stay high, oral medications can help your body better produce insulin.

In some cases, insulin injections are used.

For those who who are at risk of TOFI type 2 diabetes, it’s important to:

  • Exercise, which is the only way to shed fat on the abdominal organs.
  • Lower stress, which can temporarily raise your blood sugar.
  • Diet smart by avoiding “diet foods” that are actually loaded with sugar, like low-fat salad dressings and vitamin drinks.

Gestational Diabetes

Treatment for gestational diabetes needs to happen quickly to protect you and your baby.

Treatment tries to keep your blood sugar levels at the same levels as healthy pregnant women’s through a combination of these:

  • Specialized meal plans
  • Regular, scheduled physical activity
  • Daily blood sugar testing
  • Insulin injections

It’s important to work with your doctor to make a treatment plan in all cases, but especially with gestational diabetes where personal changes are important for protecting your baby.

Testing

The A1c test measures your average blood sugar level over 2-3 months. Your doctor will generally order it every 3-6 months depending on which type of diabetes you have to keep an eye on how your treatment is working.

For most adults, the American Diabetes Association’s suggests your A1c be under 7%, but your doctor will help you decide what’s best for you. Studies show that people with diabetes keep normal A1c levels live five years longer, on average.

Checking your blood sugar with your personal meter helps you manage your treatment on a day-to-day basis. It gives you info right away to help you make decisions about taking your insulin, when to exercise, and tell you if you’re on track.

Keeping normal blood sugar levels reduces the risk of high cholesterol, and controlling your cholesterol can lower heart complications by 50%.

These two tests work together to tell you how your diabetes management is going. This chart shows what an A1c level translates to in blood sugar levels:

A1c         Average Blood Sugar (mg/dl)

6%                             126

7%                             154

8%                             183

9%                             212

10%                           240

11%                           269

12%                           298

Insulin Injections

The biggest challenge to people who are treating diabetes with insulin injections is balancing exactly how much insulin you need to take, which can vary based on:

  • Food
  • Exercise
  • Stress
  • Current emotions
  • General health

Not balancing these factors and your insulin can result in hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.

Hypoglycemia is when you eat too little food, take too much insulin or diabetes meds, or get extra exercise, which causes your blood sugar levels to be too low.

Hyperglycemia is when you eat too much food, don’t take enough insulin, or are stressed or sick, and then your blood sugar levels are too high.

The best way to know if your blood sugar is high or low is to test your levels. But it’s also good to know the warning signs:

Hypoglycemia

  • Shaky
  • Dizzy
  • Nervous
  • Sweaty
  • Hungry
  • Clumsy
  • Confused
  • Trouble paying attention
  • Tingling mouth
  • Headache
  • Pale face
  • Seizure
  • Passing out

Hyperglycemia

  • Going to the bathroom a lot
  • Thirsty
  • Tired
  • Weak
  • Blurry vision
  • Hungry, even when you’ve eaten.

When your blood sugar level is too low, you can:

  • Eat or drink something with 15 grams of carbs:
    • Try three glucose tablets, 4 ounces of apple or orange juice, 4 ounces regular soda, 1 tablespoon cake frosting or three Jolly Ranchers.
    • Wait 15 minutes, and then check your blood glucose level again.
    • If your blood glucose is still too low, eat another 15 grams of carbs. Wait another 15 minutes, and then check your blood glucose again. You may want to keep eating until you feel better, but it’s very important to wait the full 15 minutes.

If you or your care team feel your signs are serious, inject glucagon which is the opposite of insulin—it raises your blood glucose level.

If your blood sugar is high, it’s important to remember that one high blood sugar reading isn’t a big deal, it happens to everyone from time to time. But if you keep running high day after day, talk to your doctor.

No matter what, it’s important to talk to your doctor and care team about the best way to manage your diabetes and how to handle these situations.

Diabetes and Your Teeth

Caring for Your Teeth with Diabetes

We’re taught the importance of brushing and flossing from a young age. Although we no longer brush with bubble gum-flavored toothpaste and a vibrating cartoon toothbrush, it’s still just as important. In fact, it’s more important as your teeth age. Caring for diabetes and your teeth and gums at the same time needs even closer attention.

Diabetes and Your Teeth

High blood glucose promotes germs’ growth. When bacteria constantly attacks your teeth and gums, you can get red, sore, and swollen gums that bleed when you brush or floss.

If you have diabetes, you may have trouble keeping your blood sugar levels steady. High levels are not only bad for your health, but also your teeth. Teeth and gum problems occur more often when your levels stay high.

Smoking also makes it more likely for you to get a bad case of gum disease, especially if you have diabetes and are 45 or older.

If you have one or more of these problems, you may have tooth and gum damage from diabetes:

  • Red, sore, or swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Gums pulling away from your teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Your dentures no longer fit correctly

Caring for Your Diabetes and Your Teeth

To avoid permanent damage to your smile:

  • Keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible.
  • Use dental floss at least once a day. Using a sawing motion, gently bring the floss between your teeth, scraping from bottom to top several times.
  • Brush your teeth after each meal or snack using a soft toothbrush.
  • If you wear false teeth, keep them clean.
  • Get your teeth cleaned and your gums checked by your dentist twice a year.

When you do to the dentist, it’s important to plan ahead. If you’re taking a diabetes medicine that can cause low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, talk with your dentist before the visit about the best way to take care of your blood sugar during long procedures. You may need to bring some diabetes medicine or food to the dentist’s office.

If your mouth is sore after dental work, you might not be able to eat or chew right away. Talk to your doctor about how best to adjust your normal routine while your mouth is healing.