What is fasting blood sugar? Fasting blood sugar test at home

A fasting blood glucose test measures the sugar (glucose) in your blood. It is a simple, safe, and common way of diagnosing prediabetes, diabetes, or gestational diabetes. A healthcare provider punctures your finger or uses a needle to draw blood from a vein in your arm. Do not eat or drink anything (other than water) 8 to 12 hours before the test.

What is fasting blood sugar?

Fasting blood sugar is a simple, common blood test to screen for diabetes, pre-diabetes, or gestational diabetes (during pregnancy). Also called fasting blood sugar test.

When should a person measure their blood sugar with this test?

Prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes often have no symptoms at first. A person may have the condition and not know it. Health care providers often order a fasting blood glucose test:

  • As part of a standard annual physical exam to monitor a person’s blood sugar over time.
  • For pregnant women to make sure pregnancy hormones do not cause diabetes.
  • If a person has symptoms of diabetes, a family history of diabetes, or risk factors for diabetes (such as obesity).
  • When a person’s previous blood sugar level is higher than normal.

Who performs a fasting blood sugar test?

Fasting blood sugar tests occur in a doctor’s office, lab, or hospital.

How does blood sugar work?

Blood sugar or glucose is the main sugar found in your blood. When you eat or drink, your body breaks down carbohydrates in food or liquid into sugar for energy.

Your pancreas then produces a hormone called insulin, which helps blood sugar get into your body’s cells. It also helps your body store blood sugar for later use. As cells use blood sugar, blood glucose and insulin levels drop.

But with diabetes, your body has trouble regulating glucose. Either your pancreas is not making enough insulin or your body is not processing insulin effectively. Therefore, the amount of sugar in your blood is higher than normal. And too much glucose in your blood is bad for your body.

A fasting blood glucose test measures the amount of glucose in your blood when it should be at its lowest. This happens in the morning and when you haven’t had anything to eat or drink for a while.

How do I prepare for a fasting blood sugar test?

To prepare for the fasting sugar test, you should not eat or drink anything (other than water) for 8 to 12 hours. Your healthcare provider will tell you how long you should fast.

What can I expect on test day?

A fasting blood glucose test is usually done with a common blood draw. A healthcare provider:

  • Clean the area inside your elbow to kill germs.
  • Tie a band around your upper arm, which will help fill the veins in your arm with blood.
  • Insert a clean needle into a vein (which feels like a short pinch).
  • Draw blood into a vial attached to the needle and labeled with your personal information.
  • Remove the tape and then the needle.
  • Apply pressure to the needle entry site to stop bleeding.
  • Place a bandage on the area.
  • After testing, the healthcare provider will send the blood sample to a lab for testing.

In some cases, your healthcare provider may test your blood sugar by sticking your finger in a vein instead of a needle. The provider uses a blood glucose monitor and test strip to measure your blood glucose levels in the office.

Are there any risks with a fasting blood sugar test?

A blood test is a very common and safe test, with almost no chance of any complications.

When will I get the results of the test?

Results of a fasting blood glucose test are available quickly, usually within days or hours.

What is normal fasting blood sugar and what is diabetes blood sugar level?

The fasting blood glucose test results will come back as a number:

  • 99 mg/dL or less: This is a normal fasting blood sugar level.
  • 100-125 mg/dL: Fasting blood sugar in this range typically indicates prediabetes. This means your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
  • 126 mg/dL or above: This indicates high blood sugar, which is the main symptom of diabetes.

If your fasting blood sugar level is high, your healthcare provider may repeat the test to be sure. If the test reveals that you have prediabetes, your healthcare provider will recommend that you repeat the fasting blood glucose test every two years. The results will help you know if you are progressing to Type 2 diabetes.

Can I do a fasting blood sugar test at home instead?

There are kits that allow you to test your blood sugar at home. However, they should not be used to diagnose diabetes.

Results are often not as accurate as tests by a healthcare provider. Various factors can affect accuracy, such as:

  • Environmental conditions.
  • The dirty skin on the finger is pierced.
  • Expired or damaged test strips.
  • There is not enough blood in the test sample.

Home blood test kits are aimed at helping people who have already been diagnosed. They help people with diabetes manage the condition and understand what factors affect their blood sugar.

A note

Fasting blood glucose is a simple, common blood test to diagnose prediabetes, diabetes, or gestational diabetes. Before the test, you should not eat or drink anything (other than water) for 8 to 12 hours. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need a fasting blood glucose test.

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