Why Your Healthcare Provider Tests Your Blood Sugar

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Published on April 03, 2020

Screening for blood sugar levels, diabetes, prediabetesWhy Your Healthcare Provider Tests Your Blood Sugar

Screening for blood sugar levels, diabetes, prediabetesA screening blood sugar test is generally used to determine if your blood sugar is too high. High blood sugar doesn't cause obvious symptoms, but it can be a sign of diabetes or prediabetes. Finding and treating type 2 diabetes early is important to prevent problems it can cause.

PIH Health Endocrinology Specialist, Lisa C. Moore MD says, “Many people don't know what type 2 diabetes is or why we are interested in their blood sugar levels. The hormone insulin is made by your pancreas and it allows your body to use sugar and other food for energy. Blood sugar rises when you don't have enough insulin. It also rises when your body's cells can't use what is there.”

Dr. Moore also tells us, “In type 2 diabetes, your pancreas either does not make enough insulin or your body’s cells aren’t correctly using the insulin. This is called insulin resistance. When blood sugar goes up again and again, the risk for heart attack and stroke go up. It also greatly raises the risk for kidney disease, you become at risk for blindness, amputation because of poor circulation, and other problems, too.”

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Intense thirst
  • Need to pee (urinate) often
  • Sores that don't heal
  • Weight loss when you aren’t trying to lose weight
  • Tingling or numbness in your feet or hands
  • On-and-off blurry vision

Associated Risk factors for type 2 diabetes are:

  • Being older than age 45
  • High blood pressure (140/90 mmHg or higher in adults)
  • HDL ("good') cholesterol of less than 35 mg/dL, a triglyceride level of 250 mg/dL or higher, or both

Distinct Risk factors for type 2 diabetes are:

  • Getting little exercise
  • High-risk race or ethnicity. This includes African American, Alaska Native, Hispanic American, American Indian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander
  • Blood sugar test in the past that was high
  • Having a history of gestational diabetes
  • Having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Being overweight or obese. This means a body mass index of 25 or higher
  • Having parents or siblings who have diabetes

An A1C test is often used to help diagnose prediabetes and diabetes. The A1C gives an average blood glucose level for the past 3 months. An A1C level of around 5% is considered normal. An A1C of 6.5% or above shows diabetes. A1C in prediabetes is generally between 5.7 and 6.4%.

A1C testing will result in more testing for people who are at risk for diabetes or prediabetes. This would help reduce the number of people with undiagnosed diabetes in the U.S. 

To learn more about endocrine services, visit PIHHealth.org/Endo. To find a doctor, visit PIHHealth.org/Find-a-Doctor.

© 2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.