Did you know that you have sugar in your blood? It may not be the same type of sugar you use when baking cookies, but it is sugar nonetheless. Blood glucose, or blood sugar. So, why exactly does blood sugar matter? It all comes down to the way we process food. Glucose comes from carbohydrates, one of the main sources of energy for the body. When we eat foods that contain carbs, the amount of glucose in the blood rises, triggering the pancreas to release a hormone called insulin to help regulate it. This is especially important because blood glucose that is too high or too low can cause a number of health problems.
Primarily, blood glucose tests are given to diagnose and monitor those with diabetes. There are also several different types of blood glucose tests that can be given, depending on the reason and purpose of the test:
- Fasting blood sugar – This test is done to detect diabetes and pre-diabetes, and measures a person’s blood sugar after they have not eaten for eight hours.
- Random blood sugar – This test involves several random measurements throughout the day. Since glucose levels in healthy people don’t vary much, this test can help to detect abnormalities.
- 2-hour postprandial blood sugar – To check if a person with diabetes is taking the right amount of insulin, this test measures blood glucose two hours after they started eating a meal.
- Hemoglobin A1c – This test can tell a person their estimated average glucose (eAG) by measuring how much glucose is stuck to the red blood cells.
- Oral glucose tolerance test – This test also helps diagnose pre-diabetes and diabetes, and is often given to pregnant women to detect gestational diabetes. After the person drinks a glucose-containing liquid, a series of measurements are taken.