Question

Diabetes

What is a normal blood glucose level for someone with diabetes?

A Answers (6)

  • AMichael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    You should keep your blood-sugar levels to less than 100 mg/dL.

    The excess sugar in the blood that's caused by diabetes damages the arteries by inactivating a specific substance (phosphokinase, to get technical) that makes it possible for your arteries to smoothly dilate and contract. Without that substance, the risk of holes or cracks appearing at junctions in the arterial walls increases dramatically.

    So all of us, not just diabetics, really want to avoid foods that are high in simple sugars and saturated and trans fats like jelly doughnuts. Also steer clear of foods and drinks with high fructose corn syrup.
  • Diabetes can affect how you feel day-to-day. If your blood glucose level is too high or too low, you may not feel well. Both conditions interfere with your daily routine. Keeping your blood glucose in a target range will help you feel your best. Targets suggested by the American Diabetes Association are listed below:
    • When I wake up and before meals: 70 to 130 mg/dl
    • 2 hours after starting a meal: below 180 mg/dl
  • APauline Shipley, MD, Endocrinology/diabetes/metabolism, answered on behalf of NorthShore University HealthSystem
    An acceptable blood sugar level varies with the individual's personal situation. In general, we look for blood sugars between 80 and 140.
  • AIntermountain Registered Dietitians, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    Target range is the range of levels between which your blood glucose should stay. (For example, many school-age children have a blood glucose target range of 80 to 150 mg/dL.) Your medical team will tell you what your target range is.
  • AMerle Myerson, MD, Cholesterol Management, answered on behalf of National Lipid Association
    Dr. Merle Myerson - What should my blood glucose be?
    Cardiovascular specialist Dr. Merle Myerson explains what your blood glucose levels should be. Watch Dr. Myerson's video for important tips and information about heart health.
  • AWilliam Lee Dubois, Endocrinology/diabetes/metabolism, answered
    Quite literally, what’s “normal” depends on who you are. For non-diabetic persons, when looking at “high” numbers, it was long assumed that the body always kept their blood glucose under 100 mg/dL. Now that more and more research is being done on continuous glucose monitoring systems, we see that even non-diabetic folks will sometimes shoot upwards briefly following meals or drinks with heavy carb loads. You know, like when you stop for a 64-ounce Big Gulp, a bag of Doritos, and Ding Dongs on your way home from work (or God forbid, on your way to work). It shouldn’t come as any surprise that a “snack” like this would give even the non-diabetic’s body some trouble.

    On the low side, again for non-diabetic folks, being in the high 50s or 60s seems to have no ill effect.

    Now if you have diabetes, “normal” is out the window. By definition, having diabetes means normal blood sugar is no longer possible, but the generally accepted target blood glucose levels are around 115 mg/dL fasting with peak excursions after eating at either 150 or 180 mg/dL -- depending on whose standards of care you want to look at. It’s important to note that these “postprandial” targets are based on the assumption of testing two hours after eating. If you test 30 minutes after eating you may very well be above your target.

    Numbers below 100 in diabetics make us all nervous because, more often than not, it’s your medication that put you there. So while the non-D body might be comfortable at 50 or 60, a body that has been forced low by meds is not happy there and is in grave risk of going lower. When you are on glucose lowering medications your internal series of checks and balances is gone. Your body may not be able to overcome a med-driven low, which is why the target is kept at 115, to give you a safety zone. It’s never a good idea to skate on thin ice.
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