Maintaining a mean blood glucose level within a normal range is essential to your continued good health. In addition to facilitating the management of your sugar levels, the monitoring of mean blood glucose also plays an important role in the prevention and diagnosis of any disease, particularly diabetes mellitus.
Glucose is the body's primary source of energy. It comes from carbohydrates found mainly in certain foods, such as bread, rice, pasta and candy; fruits, especially oranges, pineapple and grapefruit; as well as vegetables, like potato and squash. Once carbohydrates are digested by the body, glucose is released into the bloodstream and absorbed by the cells via insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas.
A blood test may be administered to measure the amount of glucose in your bloodstream -- either through a home test kit or medical laboratory test. Your mean blood glucose refers to the average level of glucose present in your blood and generally reads between 60 and 110 mg per deciliter or lower in healthy adults.
An excessively high mean blood glucose level, or hyperglycemia, may be an indicator of hyperthyroidism, pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, acromegaly, Cushing's syndrome, pheochromocytoma, glucagonoma or diabetes. Conversely, an unusually low level, or hypoglycemia, may indicate hypopituitarism, hypothyroidism or insulinoma. Although readings are generally accurate, results may vary, depending on the home test kit used or the laboratory in which the test is performed. It is therefore advised that you consult your doctor to clarify the significance of your specific test results.
An abnormal blood glucose level does not automatically imply that you have a medical condition. It is normal for levels to fluctuate throughout the course of the day, especially after food consumption. Thus, to obtain a mean average reading, it is advised that the home test be performed two to four times a day, either before meals or two hours after eating. Alternatively, a laboratory test may provide more accurate results. Stress, illness, hormones, medication and alcohol may also lead to temporary fluctuations in blood glucose levels and should be taken into consideration when tested.
Moderately elevated blood glucose levels may present a threat to your health even in the absence of diabetes in that they may contribute to risk factors associated with heart attack, obesity and cancer. Thus, maintaining a safe mean blood glucose level through regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet is vital for disease prevention and longevity.
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- “What Makes My Blood Glucose Go up... and Down? And 101 Other Frequently Asked Questions About Your Blood Glucose Levels”; Jennie Brand-Miller, Ph.D., et al.; 2003
- MedlinePlus: Glucose Test -- Blood
- Vermont Department of Health: Measuring Your Blood Sugar
- National Diabetes Education Program: If You Have Diabetes ... Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers (PDF)