Blood glucose (blood sugar) is a form of sugar produced when the body digests carbohydrates (sugars and starches). It's the body's major fuel for the energy it needs. When insulin is absent or ineffective, the blood glucose level increases. High blood glucose levels can lead to both short and long-term diabetes complications.
The goal in living with diabetes is to keep your blood glucose level as close to normal as possible, as often as possible. That means maintaining a healthy glucose average, and also preventing blood glucose swings that are too high or too low. Keeping in “good control” helps you feel better and reduces the risk of developing diabetes-related complications. “Poor control”, on the other hand, affects your health in the present, and puts you at higher risk for the long-term complications of diabetes.
The exact glucose target level can vary by person. A person without diabetes generally has an average blood glucose level of around 100 mg/dL. Good control for a person with diabetes before a meal is 90-130 mg/dL. But a number of circumstances can affect your ability to hit even that average. Your physician will give you guidance as to what average would define “good control” for you.
Blood glucose testing is an important part of diabetes management because it can show you how well your diabetes care plan and treatment decisions are working. The results from your blood glucose meter provide immediate feedback, which can help you understand how different factors are impacting your blood glucose levels.
But testing is not just about getting a test result. It's also about knowing how to interpret each result and how to take action. Your goal should be to keep your blood glucose in the target range recommended by your health care team, and avoid going either too high, which can lead to hyperglycemia, or too low, which can result in hypoglycemia. Keeping your blood glucose level as close to normal as possible is one of the best ways to stay healthy and reduces your risk of diabetes complications.