This blood sugar chart shows normal blood glucose levels before and after meals and recommended HbA1c levels for people with and without diabetes.
|BLOOD SUGAR CHART|
|Normal for person without diabetes||70–99 mg/dl (3.9–5.5 mmol/L)|
|Official ADA recommendation for someone with diabetes||80–130 mg/dl (4.4–7.2 mmol/L)|
|1 to 2 hours after meals|
|Normal for person without diabetes||Less than 140 mg/dl (7.8 mmol/L)|
|Official ADA recommendation for someone with diabetes||Less than 180 mg/dl (10.0 mmol/L)|
|Normal for person without diabetes||Less than 5.7%|
|Official ADA recommendation for someone with diabetes||Less than 7.0%|
Source: American Diabetes Association
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. As a result, the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Type 1 diabetes is also characterized by the presence of certain autoantibodies against insulin or other components of the insulin-producing system such as glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), tyrosine phosphatase, and/or islet cells.
When the body does not have enough insulin to use the glucose that is in the bloodstream for fuel, it begins breaking down fat reserves for energy. However, the breakdown of fat creates acidic by-products called ketones, which accumulate in the blood. If enough ketones accumulate in the blood, they can cause a potentially life-threatening chemical imbalance known as ketoacidosis.
Type 1 diabetes often develops in children, although it can occur at any age. Symptoms include unusual thirst, a need to urinate frequently, unexplained weight loss, blurry vision, and a feeling of being tired constantly. Such symptoms tend to be acute.
Diabetes is diagnosed in one of three ways – a fasting plasma glucose test, an oral glucose tolerance test, or a random plasma glucose test – all of which involve drawing blood to measure the amount of glucose in it.
Fasting blood sugar
A fasting blood sugar (sometimes called fasting plasma glucose or FPG) is a blood sugar that is measured after fasting (not eating or drinking anything, except water) for at least 8 hours. The purpose of doing a fasting blood sugar test is to determine how much glucose (sugar) is in the blood, and this test is commonly used to check for diabetes or prediabetes. The blood test is usually measured at a lab, at the doctor’s office or at a hospital. A blood sample may be drawn from a vein in your arm and collected in a tube which will then be analyzed by a lab. Or, a blood sample may be obtained by doing a fingerstick with a lancet.
Normal fasting blood sugar for person without diabetes
A normal fasting blood glucose for someone who does not have diabetes ranges from 70 to 99 mg/dl.
Official fasting blood sugar ADA recommendation for someone with type 1 diabetes
The American Diabetes Association recommends a fasting blood sugar target of 80 to 130 mg/dl for most nonpregnant adults with type 1 diabetes. However, the fasting blood sugar target may need to be individualized for certain people based on such factors as duration of diabetes, age and life expectancy, cognitive status, other health conditions, cardiovascular complications and hypoglycemia unawareness. It’s important that people with type 1 diabetes discuss their target blood sugar goals with their health-care provider.
Blood sugar 1 to 2 hours after meals
Normal after-meal blood sugar for person without diabetes
Someone who does not have diabetes is unlikely to be checking their blood sugars. However, one of the screening tests for diabetes is called an oral glucose tolerance test, or OGTT. (A slightly different version of the OGTT is also used to diagnose gestational diabetes, which is diabetes that develops during pregnancy). For this test, the person needs to fast overnight and go to the doctor’s office or a lab in the morning. A blood sample will be used to measure the fasting blood sugar. The person then drinks a sugary drink that contains 75 grams of sugar. Two hours later, blood sugar is checked again. A normal blood sugar is lower than 140 mg/dl. A blood sugar between 140 and 199 mg/dl is considered to be prediabetes, and a blood sugar of 200 mg/dl or higher can indicate diabetes.
Official after-meal blood sugar ADA recommendation for someone with diabetes
The American Diabetes Association recommends that the blood sugar 1 to 2 hours after the beginning of a meal be less than 180 mg/dl for most nonpregnant adults with type 1 diabetes. This is typically the peak, or highest, blood sugar level in someone with diabetes. Again, this target may need to be individualized for certain people based on such factors as duration of diabetes, age and life expectancy, cognitive status, other health conditions, cardiovascular complications and hypoglycemia unawareness. It’s important that people with diabetes discuss their target blood sugar goals with their health-care provider.
The HbA1C test is a blood test that provides average levels of blood glucose over the past 3 months. Other names for this test are hemoglobin A1C, A1C, glycated hemoglobin, and glycosylated hemoglobin test. A person does not need to fast before having their HbA1C test measured; in other words, it’s OK to eat or drink something beforehand. The HbA1C test may not be accurate for some people, including those with anemias and for those receiving treatment for HIV, and for people of African, Mediterranean or Southeast Asian descent. The HbA1C result is reported as a percentage; the higher the percentage, the higher the blood sugar level.
In addition to being a tool for diagnosing diabetes, the HbA1C test is used to help people who have diabetes manage their condition.
Normal HbA1c for person without diabetes
For someone who does not have diabetes, a normal HbA1C level is below 5.7%. An A1C between 5.7% to 6.4% is indicative of prediabetes.
Official HbA1c ADA recommendation for someone with type 1 diabetes
The American Diabetes Association recommends an HbA1C of less than 7% for most nonpregnant adults with type 1 diabetes. A lower goal, such as less than 6.5%, may be appropriate for some people who have had diabetes for a shorter amount of time, for younger people, and for those without heart disease. A higher HbA1C goal, such as less than 8%, may be appropriate for people with a history of severe hypoglycemia, a limited life expectancy, advanced diabetes complications, other illnesses, or for whom a lower HbA1C goal is difficult to achieve. It’s important that people with diabetes discuss their target blood sugar goals with their health-care provider.
HbA1C levels should be checked between 2 to 4 times per year in people who have diabetes.
Blood sugar chart: summary
The fasting blood sugar, 2-hour post-meal blood sugar and HbA1C tests are important ways to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes, as well as indicate how well a person’s diabetes is being managed. If you think you have diabetes, it’s important to not try and diagnose yourself by doing a fingerstick with a home blood glucose meter. There are strict standards and procedures that laboratories use for diagnosing diabetes; therefore, you should get tested at your doctor’s office or at a laboratory.
It’s also important to talk with your doctor to make sure you understand a) how often you should have certain tests, such as a fasting blood glucose or HbA1C test; b) what your results mean; and c) what your blood sugar and HbA1C targets are.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, it’s recommended that you learn how to check your blood sugars with a meter so that you and your health-care team can determine how your treatment plan is working for you.
Interested in learning more? Read about normal blood glucose numbers and using blood sugar monitoring to manage diabetes.
A Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at Good Measures, LLC, where she is a CDE manager for a virtual diabetes program. Campbell is the author of Staying Healthy with Diabetes: Nutrition & Meal Planning, a co-author of 16 Myths of a Diabetic Diet, and has written for publications including Diabetes Self-Management, Diabetes Spectrum, Clinical Diabetes, the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation’s newsletter, DiabeticConnect.com, and CDiabetes.com