Blood Glucose Test for Diabetes – Reference Ranges

Most diabetics will be familiar with the terms blood glucose, blood glucose test, blood glucose level and blood sugar meters, but what does blood glucose really mean? Why do blood sugar levels need to be controlled?

If you've done a blood glucose test through glucose testing meters and the lab technician has highlighted some of the results or marked them with an asterisk, you probably want to know what constitutes a normal, below normal or abnormal blood glucose test results. So today let us discuss blood glucose tests reference ranges.

The result of any blood glucose test in a clinical lab is compared to a "reference range". This simply means that the result of the blood glucose test must be considered in the context, without which the test is meaningless. To interpret what is normal for you, the doctor must know what is considered normal for people of your age and what activity was done before the test was conducted. For example, when you receive the results of your blood glucose test, your doctor might say something like, "Your blood glucose test was out of normal range."

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So, what is a reference range and what can be considered "normal"? Some laboratory tests give a simple yes or no result. Suppose you had a test done for strep throat, the result of the test would show if you have the infection or not. But most other tests are not so simple in that the meaning of the result will depend on the context. The lab report for your blood glucose test for example, will typically show your result followed by the reference range. This reference range is established by testing a large group of healthy people and study what appears to be 'normal' for them.

The normal fasting blood glucose level is about 70-99mg/dL or 3.9 to 5.5mmol/L. So if your blood glucose test result reads 100-125mg, ref. range 70-99mg/dL, it means that your blood glucose level is above the normal range. When the doctor in the example above said your blood glucose test was above the normal range, he is referring to the normal blood sugar level in context with the normal reference range for fasting blood sugar. Blood sugar levels above the normal range usually indicate a medical problem. If your blood glucose tests consistently show high levels of blood sugar, it may signify a pre-diabetic stage.

There are however many factors affecting your blood glucose test results. It could be factors like anxiety or stress, excessive intake of alcohol, caffeine, etc. Therefore, it is essential to take the blood samples in a standardized fashion. Hence, it is important to comply with the doctor's instructions to prepare for your blood glucose test, like coming in first thing in the morning to draw the blood through high quality blood glucose meters before eating anything. This ensures that your blood sample is close to the parameters of the reference group, which is crucial for the accuracy of the test results.

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Although your blood glucose test report may show the result in comparison with the reference range, your doctor will need to interpret those results in relation to your health status and physical evaluation based on his personal knowledge of your medical history. He would need to determine if the result falling outside the reference range does indeed mean something significant for your individual health status or not.

Also known as: Fasting blood sugar (FBS), Blood sugar; Fasting blood glucose (FBG), Blood glucose, Fasting plasma glucose (FPG), Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT), Urine glucose and blood glucose tests.

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