Blood sugar levels are a daily subject for discussion among people with diabetes, whether they have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
If you've recently been diagnosed with diabetes or you are a non-diabetic, you may be wondering what normal blood sugar levels are. What are the normal blood sugar level ranges in healthy non-diabetics? What should my A1C be? What blood sugar goals should I be aiming for? In this article, we will answer all of the above questions and more!
What Is Blood Glucose?
Blood glucose is the main sugar content in your blood. Usually it's expressed in mg/dL (USA, Europe) or mmol/L (Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and China). It comes from the food you eat, and it's your body's main source of energy. Blood glucose levels are a measure of how much sugar is in your blood. Blood sugar levels can fluctuate depending on the time of the day due to a number of reasons. What we eat, how active we are, any medications we take, and even stress can all affect our blood sugar levels.
What Are Normal Blood Sugar Levels?
Normal blood sugar levels vary based on when you last ate. For example, immediately after a meal, your blood sugar levels will be higher than if you haven't eaten in a few hours.
The normal blood glucose range is 70-99 mg/dL before meals, and less than 140 mg/dL two hours after eating. If you are fasting (not eating anything), your blood sugar would normally be below 95 mg/dL.
Use the blood sugar conversion calculator to convert mg/dL to mmol/L or mmol/L to mg/dL.
How Should Blood Sugar Levels Be Before And After Eating?
In healthy individuals, preprandial blood glucose levels (before a meal), are usually between 80-130 mg/dL. One to two hours after a meal (postprandial), blood sugars levels are normally below 180 mg/dL.
Blood glucose levels can be affected by the type and amount of food consumed, as well as other different factors like physical activity, medications, co-existing medical conditions, stress, age, an illness, and even menstrual periods or pregnancy.
What Is a Normal Blood Sugar Level for a Non-diabetic Person?
The normal blood glucose level for a non-diabetic should be between 70-100 mg/dL when fasting (not having eaten anything for at least eight hours). This range is called the euglycemic range. After eating a meal, it's ideal that your blood sugar level remains below 140 mg/dL.
What Is a Normal Blood Sugar Level for Diabetics?
A normal blood sugar level for diabetics is more difficult to define because it can vary greatly from person to person and the normal range varies depending on one’s age.
What's important is that you work with your doctor to set goals that are achievable as well as safe for you and that you maintain good blood sugar control as much as possible.
What Blood Sugar Goals Should I Be Aiming For?
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that most people with diabetes aim for the following blood sugar goals:
- Preprandial (before meals): 80-130 mg/dL
- Postprandial (one to two hours after meals): Less than 180 mg/dL
Your doctor will likely set different goals for you based on many factors including your age, how long you've had diabetes, any co-existing illnesses or long-term conditions you might have, your individual lifestyle and social circumstances.
What Is the Normal Blood Sugar Level for Children?
Young children (younger than 6) have different normal blood sugar levels as compared to adults. The normal range even varies depending on the age of the child.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) provides the following ranges as a guide:
- Fasting: 80-180 mg/dL
- Preprandial (before meals): 100-180 mg/dL
- Postprandial (one to two hours after eating): Less than 180 mg/dL
- Bedtime: 110-200 mg/dL
What Is the Normal Blood Sugar Level for Teens?
Teenagers are recommended to have a blood sugar range between 70-150 mg/dL. It's not easy for a teenager to maintain a tight range, therefore it's important to aim for these numbers to give them a bit more flexibility.
- Fasting: 70-150 mg/dL
- Preprandial (before meals): 90-130 mg/dL
- Postprandial (one to two hours after eating): Less than 140 mg/dL
- Bedtime: 90-150 mg/dL
What Is the Normal Blood Sugar Level for Adults?
As we age, our bodies become less able to regulate blood sugar levels as well as they used to. That's why the ADA recommends that older adults (older than 20) aim for a fasting blood sugar level of less than 100 mg/dL. After eating, it's ideal that your blood sugar level is below 180 mg/dL.
The ADA recommends that most adults with diabetes aim for the following blood sugar goals:
- Fasting: Less than 100 mg/dL
- Preprandial (before meals): 70-130 mg/dL
- Postprandial (one to two hours after eating): Less than 180 mg/dL
- Bedtime: 100-140 mg/dL
If you experience high blood sugar levels or low blood glucose levels compared to this range you should speak to your doctor.
How Do You Manage Blood Sugar?
It's not easy to manage your blood sugar, but it's important to do so if you have diabetes. There are many things you can do to keep your blood sugar levels in the healthy range.
The first step is to understand what causes your blood sugar levels to go up and down. This will help you make choices that keep your blood sugar levels within your target range.
Food choices are an important part of managing your blood sugar. Eating foods that raise your blood sugar too much can cause problems such as weight gain, high triglycerides, and low HDL (good) cholesterol. On the other hand, eating foods that don't raise your blood sugar enough can leave you feeling tired and hungry. You'll need to find a balance that works for you.
Your doctor can help you create a meal plan that includes the right mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. You'll also need to pay attention to how much you eat and the timing of your meals.
Exercise is another important part of managing your blood sugar. Exercise can help your body use insulin more effectively. It can also lower your blood sugar levels by helping your body burn off glucose that's in your bloodstream.
You'll need to talk to your doctor about how much exercise is safe for you. While daily exercise is proven to be protective against future complications of diabetes as well as other major conditions like heart disease and stroke, people with diabetes are at risk for developing low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) during or after exercise. This can be dangerous and even life-threatening. It is therefore particularly important to set individual goals depending on each person’s medical background as well as lifestyle.
The plate method can help you control your portion sizes and make sure you're getting the right mix of nutrients.
Start by filling half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. These are low in carbohydrates and calories, but high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Next, add a serving of protein to your plate. This can be lean meat, chicken, fish, tofu, or beans.
Every diabetic learns it at diagnosis, and many nondiabetics know it too: “You have to watch your carbs!”
Carbohydrates are found in lots of foods, including bread, cereals, fruits, starchy vegetables, dairy products, sweets, and some processed foods. When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose (sugar). This raises your blood sugar levels.
That's why it's important for people with diabetes to be aware of the number of carbohydrates they're eating. You'll need to learn how to count carbohydrates if you want to keep your blood sugar levels within your target range.
Your doctor or dietitian can teach you how to count carbohydrates.
Low Blood Sugar Levels Symptoms
Low blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia can happen to anyone but is more common in people with diabetes. Low blood sugar levels can occur if you miss a meal, exercise too hard, or take too much insulin or oral diabetes medications.
Signs and symptoms that your blood sugar might be on the low side include:
- Anxiety or feeling of nervousness
If you have any of these symptoms, it's important to check your blood sugar levels right away. You can use a home glucose meter to test your blood sugar levels. The ADA recommends that people with diabetes keep a fast-acting source of sugar like glucose tablets with them at all times in case they experience low blood sugar levels.
High Blood Sugar Levels Symptoms
High blood sugar levels, or hyperglycemia can occur if you don't take enough insulin, you miss a meal, or you exercise too little. High blood sugar levels can also be caused by stress, illness, or some medications.
Signs and symptoms that your blood sugar might be on the high side include:
- Increased urination
- Excessive thirst (dry mouth)
- Blurry vision
It's important to treat high blood sugar levels quickly to avoid more serious problems. You can avoid high blood sugar levels by taking your insulin or diabetes medications regularly and following your recommended diet as best as possible.
If your blood sugar levels are higher than acceptable, you should monitor levels at frequent intervals and seek advice from your doctor or specialist nurse).
How Is Diabetes Diagnosed?
A diagnosis of diabetes is usually made when fasting blood sugar is above 126 mg/dL or the A1c is 6.5% or higher.
HBa1c (A1c) is the level of glycated hemoglobin and represents blood glucose control over last 3 months by measuring glycated hemoglobin levels.
If your fasting blood sugar levels are between 100 and 126 mg/dL you can be diagnosed with prediabetes.
In some individuals diabetes may develop quite quickly and this can cause very high blood sugar levels that range between 200 mg/dL and 400 mg/dL or above. This often leads to a life threatening condition requiring hospitalization and sometimes intensive care treatment.
If you have any of the following symptoms, it's important to speak to your doctor:
- Increased urination
- Excessive thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Blurry vision
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Slow-healing cuts and bruises
A diagnosis of diabetes is a serious matter, but it doesn't mean your life has to change dramatically. There are many treatments available that can help you manage your condition and live a long, healthy life. Treatment usually involves a combination of lifestyle modification, medication, diet, and exercise. You'll work with your healthcare team to create a treatment plan that's right for you.
There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body to process glucose (sugar) from food. Type 2 diabetes is when the body does not use insulin properly. People with either type of diabetes need to control their blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and medication.
Measuring Your Average Blood Sugar With A1c
Your A1c level represents your average blood glucose control over the past two to three months. The lower your A1c, the better your blood sugar control. An A1c of less than seven percent is normal for people without diabetes. For people with diabetes, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends an A1c below eight percent.
The ADA provides us with a clear range of blood sugar levels next to the A1c percentages.
Poor A1c Results for a Diabetic
- 12% = 298 mg/dL or range of 240 – 347
- 11% = 269 mg/dL or range of 217 – 314
- 10% = 240 mg/dL or range of 193 – 282
Moderate A1c Results for a Diabetic
- 9% = 212 mg/dL or range of 170 –249
- 8% = 183 mg/dL or range of 147 – 217
Good A1c Results for a Diabetic
- 7% = 154 mg/dL or range of 123 – 185
A1c Results for Non-diabetics
- 6% = 126 mg/dL or range of 100 – 152
- 5% = 97 mg/dL or range of 76 – 120
Frequently Asked Questions
Normal blood sugar levels can vary based on many factors, including age and health conditions. The ranges for normal blood sugar levels provide a general guideline, but it's important to work with your doctor to set goals that are achievable for you and maintain good blood sugar control. Blood glucose levels should be monitored closely with a daily blood sugar test, especially if you have diabetes, to prevent any long-term health complications.
Is Blood Sugar of 135 High?
A blood sugar level of 135 is not considered high. However, it is still important to take steps to lower your blood sugar levels if they are above your target range. You can do this by making changes to your diet and exercise routine. You should also talk to your doctor about ways to lower your blood sugar levels.
What Are Normal Fasting Blood Glucose Levels?
Normal fasting blood glucose levels are less than 100 mg/dL. However, if you have diabetes, your target fasting blood sugar level is less than 130 mg/dL. You should talk to your doctor about what your target blood sugar level should be.
Normal blood sugar levels can vary based on many factors, including age and a person's health conditions. The ranges for normal blood sugar levels provide a general guideline, but it's important to work with your doctor to set goals that are achievable for you and maintain good blood sugar control and ultimately prevent future complications of diabetes. Blood glucose levels should be monitored closely with a daily blood sugar test (or several times a day, as per your physician), especially if you have diabetes, to prevent any long-term health complications