Managing Diabetes at Home – Know the Numbers!
Tracy E. Bingaman, MSPAS, PA-C
Over 30 million adults in the United States have diabetes. Diabetic patients account for nearly 10% of the U.S. Population, based on Data from 2015 from the CDC’s National Diabetes Statistics Report, published in 2017. Imperative to the control and management of diabetes is “knowing the numbers.” Your loved one’s numbers will be specific to them. These numbers give you a target for blood sugar. These goals should be specific, clear, and updated often as your family members condition and functional status change.
Zig Ziglar was famous for quoting “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” You need a target for managing your family members diabetes. Define the target – the target blood sugar, number of sugar tests per day, A1c level, blood pressure, cholesterol, kidney function, and the list goes on!
There are several numbers that are important to understand in caring for a loved one with diabetes:
Blood Sugar: Blood sugar is a short-term measure of glucose control.
- Blood sugar is a measure of the amount of sugar (mg of sugar) in a certain volume of blood (dL of blood) = blood sugar
- Think of blood sugar as comparable to the amount of sugar in a persons coffee – with black coffee being a blood sugar of 0 and extra, extra sweet with 5 sugars would be a blood sugar of 300+
- Blood sugar is a short-term measure of glucose control or “sugar levels”. Checking your blood sugar gives an instantaneous reading of blood sugar.
- Consult with your Endocrinologist, Gerontologist, or Primary Care Provider. Ensure you understand exactly when and how to check blood sugars. Keep a detailed, written log of blood sugars. Bring your log to each visit with a provider.
- It is prudent to record changes in diet and activity and jot notes to this effect alongside your blood sugar readings. This helps you and your providers identify patterns that might be improving or worsening your diabetes.
- For example: if you start going to the gym and exercising regularly you will likely see an improvement in your blood sugar control. Exercise has been proven to improve diabetic control, even without weight loss.
|Standard Blood Sugar Goals|
|1-2 hours after start of meal = post-prandial blood sugar||<180mg/dL|
– As always, find a local provider using our Provider Locator Search Bar to build a strong team to help manage diabetes.
Hemoglobin A1C: HbA1c “Hemoglobin A1c” or “A1c” is a long-term measure of glucose control.
- HbA1c, also known as “A1C” levels – is a measure of your average blood sugar over the last 3 months – your goal number should be personalized, but the American Diabetes Association recommends an A1c of less than 7%.
- A1C is calculated based on the percentage of hemoglobin in one’s bloodstream that is glycosylated, or paired with a glucose – the higher the A1c, the more “out of control” the diabetes.
- HbA1c “Hemoglobin A1C” or just “A1C” is a long-term measure of glucose control – contrasting this with blood sugar with is a short-term measure.
- As patients become older and at higher risk for falling and low blood sugars, we tend to increase this goal A1c. If you find your loved one having frequent low blood sugars, contact your Nurse or Diabetes Educator, as the Physician, PA, or NP may want to adjust the medication regimen.
- Find great local Diabetes Educators, Nurses, and Providers that specialize in Diabetes using our Provider Search Tool.
A1C levels and associated average blood sugars:
|A1C Level||Average Blood Sugar|
- Consult a local Dietician or Diabetic educator to help you develop a plan for meals, snacks, activity, and lifestyle changes that can assist you to control your diabetes.
Take an active role in the management of diabetes. Be proactive! Ask questions and be involved in tracking blood sugars and following HgbA1c levels over time. Be a team player and surround yourself with a strong team of caring, compassionate providers – Doctors, PAs, NPs, Dieticians, Counselors, Diabetes Educators and more. Use our Provider Locator Search tool to find these valuable team members in your local area.