Metabolic Health

Glucose

Optimal Result: 65 - 99 mg/dL, or 3.61 - 5.49 mmol/L.

Glucose is a simple sugar formed from the breakdown of carbohydrates in our bodies. It is stored mainly in the liver and muscles as glycogen before being turned into free glucose, a primary energy source. Frequently referred to as “blood sugar,” glucose is a vital and necessary part of our metabolic process; however, too much blood sugar can become problematic. Typically, a hormone called insulin controls the amount of sugar in your blood. If your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or the insulin produced doesn’t work properly, then you may have diabetes or be pre-diabetic. Dysregulation of blood sugar levels can lead to a build up of sugar in your body, which can cause severe organ damage if left untreated. A healthcare professional may order a glucose blood test to:

- Detect high blood glucose (hyperglycemia) and low blood glucose  (hypoglycemia)

- Screen for diabetes in people who are at risk but have not started showing signs and symptoms

- Help diagnose diabetes, pre-diabetes, and gestational diabetes

- Monitor blood sugar levels in people diagnosed with diabetes

Blood glucose tests are either random or fasting tests. For a fasting blood glucose test, you can’t eat or drink anything but water for eight hours before the test. Fasting tests are more common because they provide more accurate results and are easier to interpret. There are a number of medications that can affect your blood glucose levels, including: acetaminophen, steroids, diuretics, birth control pills, hormone therapy, aspirin, lithium, tricyclic antidepressants, MAOIs, and others. In addition, severe stress like surgery, trauma, stroke, and heart attack can cause a temporary increase in your blood glucose levels.

Normal Ranges for a Fasting Blood Glucose Test in mg/dL:

Glucose level

Indication

Less than 100 mg/dL

Normal

From 100 to 125

Pre-diabetes

Equal to or greater than 126

Diabetes

Normal Ranges for a Gestational Diabetes Two-Step Approach in mg/dL:

Samples drawn at fasting and then 1, 2, and 3 hours after a 100-gram glucose drink. If two or more values meet or exceed the target level, gestational diabetes is diagnosed.

Time of collection

Target levels

Fasting (prior to glucose load)

95

1 hour after glucose load

180

2 hours after glucose load

155

3 hours after glucose load

140

What does it mean if your Glucose result is too low?

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can present with symptoms such as:

- Sweating

- Hunger

- Trembling

- Anxiety

- Confusion

- Blurred vision

Although not common, hypoglycemia can be indicative of several serious conditions, including:

- Alcohol abuse

- Severe liver disease

- Hypopituitarism

- Hypothyroidism

- Severe heart failure

- Chronic kidney failure

- Starvation

- Tumors that produce insulin (insulinoma)

What does it mean if your Glucose result is too high?

Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, can present with symptoms such as:

- Increased thirst

- Frequent urination

- Blurred vision

- Slow healing wounds / infections

An elevated blood glucose test score indicates that you have a type of diabetes or are at risk for developing one. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and teenagers whose bodies aren’t able to produce enough insulin. It’s a chronic condition that requires continuous treatment. Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in overweight and obese adults. The impact of type 2 diabetes may be reduced through weight loss and healthy eating. Pre-diabetes happens when you’re at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes occurs if you develop diabetes while you’re pregnant; it typically goes away after the pregnancy ends. Typically, a pregnant woman will be screened for gestational diabetes between their 24th and 28th week of pregnancy, unless they have already begun displaying symptoms. A woman may be tested earlier if she is at risk for type 2 diabetes. When a woman has type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes, her healthcare practitioner will usually order glucose levels throughout her pregnancy and after delivery to monitor her condition.

Hyperthyroidism, kidney problems, pancreatitis, and pancreatic cancer are also known to cause high blood glucose levels.

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