What is a blood sugar test?

A blood sugar test is a procedure that measures the amount of sugar, or glucose, in your blood. Your doctor may order this test to help diagnose diabetes. People with diabetes can also use this test to manage their condition.

Blood sugar tests provide instant results and let you know the following:

  • Your diet or exercise routine needs to change
  • How your diabetes medications or treatment is working
  • If your blood sugar levels are high or low
  • Your overall treatment goals for diabetes are manageable

Your doctor may also order a blood sugar test as part of a routine checkup. They may also be looking to see if you have diabetes or prediabetes, a condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal.

Your risk for diabetes increases if any of the following factors are true:

  • You are 45 years old or older
  • You are overweight
  • You don’t exercise much
  • You have high blood pressure, high triglycerides, or low good cholesterol levels (HDL)
  • You have a history of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed over 9 pounds
  • You have a history if insulin resistance
  • You are Asian, African, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, or Native American
  • You have a family history of diabetes

Checking your blood sugar levels can be done at home or at a doctor’s office. Read on to learn more about blood sugar tests, who they are for, and what the results mean.

What does a blood sugar test do?

Your doctor may order a blood sugar test to see if you have diabetes or prediabetes. The test will measure the amount of glucose in your blood.

Your body takes carbohydrates found in foods like grains and fruits and converts them into glucose. Glucose, a sugar, is one of the body’s main sources of energy.

For people with diabetes, a home test helps monitor blood sugar levels. Taking a blood sugar test can help determine your blood sugar level to see if you need to adjust your diet, exercise, or diabetes medications.

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can lead to seizures or a coma if left untreated. High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can lead to ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition that’s often a concern for those with type 1 diabetes.

Ketoacidosis occurs when your body starts using only fat for fuel. Hyperglycemia over a long period can increase your risk for neuropathy (nerve damage), along with heart, kidney, and eye diseases.

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