When should you go for sugar testing?
Posted By Suborna Fermi
Posted on Oct 21, 2023
A blood sugar or blood glucose test helps examine the blood sugar level in your body. There are many types of sugar testing, such as fasting blood sugar tests, random blood sugar tests and A1C tests. Doctors generally recommend sugar testing for patients with type 2 diabetes. Read on to learn more about sugar tests.
What is a blood sugar test?
A blood sugar test measures the level of sugar in your blood sample to detect a diabetic condition. Sugar, or glucose, is our body’s primary source of energy. Insulin, an essential hormone produced by the pancreas, helps deliver glucose from your bloodstream to the cells.
Too much or too little blood sugar in your body can cause a critical medical condition. Excessive blood sugar levels cause hyperglycemia, which is a long-term medical condition that needs to be managed to prevent complications.
Low blood sugar levels can cause hypoglycemia, which is common in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Low blood sugar levels can also cause major health concerns, including seizures and brain damage.
What is the purpose of this test?
Sugar tests are used to check if your blood sugar levels are in a normal range. It is used to detect diabetes conditions and monitor diabetic patients.
When do I need a sugar test?
Your healthcare provider may recommend this test if you are having symptoms related to high or low blood sugar levels. They might also ask you to go for this test if you are about to undergo surgery.
The most common symptoms of high blood sugar levels are:
- Blurry vision
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Sores or cuts that do not heal
- Unexplained weight loss
- Numbness or tingling sensations in hands and feet
The common symptoms of low blood sugar levels include:
- Increased hunger
- Feeling shaky
- Vision problems
- Trouble speaking
- A fast heartbeat
You might also require a blood sugar test if you are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The risk factors for diabetes include:
- Being overweight
- Having a family history of diabetes
- Being older than 45 years
- Having high blood pressure
- Having a history of heart disease and stroke
- Not being physically active
- Having a history of gestational diabetes (which happens during pregnancy)
During pregnancy, the blood sugar level may get higher than usual; make sure to consult with your doctor to check for gestational diabetes.
What happens during the test?
Generally, a blood sample is required to perform a sugar test. A medical practitioner will collect a sample of blood through a vein in your arm. You might feel a sting when the needle is inserted. After the blood collection, they will collect the blood sample into a small vial and send it to the laboratory for examination.
In some types of sugar testing, you might be required to drink a liquid before the sample collection. Your doctor may also ask for a glucose urine test, for which a urine sample will be needed.
What preparation do I need for the test?
If you are going for a fasting blood glucose test or an opal fasting glucose test, then you cannot eat or drink for about 8 to 10 hours before the test. Other sugar tests do not require any preparation. You can talk to the doctor to understand whether you need to fast before the test.
What do the test results mean?
A higher than normal blood sugar level may indicate that you have or are at risk of developing diabetes. Many reasons can cause high blood sugar levels, including hyperthyroidism, pancreas disorder, trauma, stress, or a very serious illness.
If you have diabetes and your test report shows lower than normal blood sugar levels, then it may indicate medication side effects or that you are not eating enough.
If you do not have a diabetic condition and your test report shows lower than normal blood sugar levels, then it might be a sign of hypothyroidism, liver disease, kidney disease, underactive adrenal, underactive pituitary gland, or alcohol use disorder. However, make sure to consult with your doctor to find out what the test results mean for you.