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Diabetes: Blood Sugar Levels

Topic Overview

Keeping your blood sugar in a target range reduces your risks of complications. Studies found that improved blood sugar control lowers the risk of diabetic eye disease (retinopathy), kidney disease (nephropathy), and nerve disease (neuropathy).1

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests the following blood glucose ranges.1

  • Adults (non-pregnant)
    • A1c: Less than 7.0%
    • Before meals: 70 to 130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
    • 1 to 2 hours after meals: Less than 180 mg/dL
  • Women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who become pregnant
    • A1c: Less than 6.0%
    • Before meals, bedtime, and overnight: 60 to 99 mg/dL
    • 1 to 2 hours after meals: 100 to 129 mg/dL or lower
  • Women who have gestational diabetes
    • Before meals: 95 mg/dL or less
    • 1 to 2 hours after meals: 120 to 140 mg/dL
  • Adolescents and young adults (13 to 19 years old)
    • A1c: Less than 7.5%
    • Before meals: 90 to 130 mg/dL
    • Bedtime and overnight: 90 to 150 mg/dL
  • School-age children (6 to 12 years old)
    • A1c: Less than 8.0%
    • Before meals: 90 to 180 mg/dL
    • Bedtime and overnight: 100 to 180 mg/dL
  • Toddlers and preschoolers (under 6 years old)
    • A1c: Less than 8.5%
    • Before meals: 100 to 180 mg/dL
    • Bedtime and overnight: 110 to 200 mg/dL

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) episodes are a possible complication in people who tightly control their blood sugar by taking insulin or some oral diabetes medicines. Some people who have tight control of their blood sugar may not be able to sense when they have low blood sugar. Some people need to have a higher target blood sugar level because of the danger of low blood sugar. Work with your doctor to set your own target blood sugar range. This will help you achieve the best control possible without having a high risk of hypoglycemia.

People who may need a higher blood sugar range include:1

  • Children younger than age 7. Low blood sugar levels may harm brain development in young children. The risk of very low blood sugar from tightly controlling blood sugar levels is higher in these children because their food intake and activity level vary from day to day. Also, very young children are not able to describe the symptoms of low blood sugar when they experience them.
  • Children before they have reached puberty. These children seem to be protected from complications from diabetes. As a child grows older and can recognize early symptoms of low blood sugar, his or her blood sugar level can be lowered closer to the target range for adults.
  • People who already have severe diseases, such as kidney failure, from complications of diabetes. They may not benefit from such control of their blood sugar level.
  • Older adults who have atherosclerosis and are at risk for permanent injury (a heart attack or stroke) from low blood sugar levels.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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