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How to test your blood glucose levels accurately.

You should check your blood sugar (glucose) levels frequently and accurately. There are many test available therefore its important to know the difference between blood glucose and HbA1C tests.

How to test your blood glucose levels accurately.

With the countless tests available to the general public, it has become necessary to understand the relevance and the difference between tests.

For example, being assessed for a specific condition may require a more in-depth view than is commonly perceived. With this in mind, we look at the difference between blood glucose and the HbA1c tests and why one is more effective in managing an individual’s diabetic status than the other.

The glucose test

Activity levels, stress, types of food, infection and/or illness can affect glucose levels. The amount of food consumed and periods between meals also play a role in determining blood sugar levels. Generally, blood sugar levels are at their lowest after overnight fasting, or in instances where a meal has not been consumed for a period of at least eight hours. Blood sugar levels are raised to their highest levels within an hour of eating foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as potatoes, chocolate, bread, rice and pasta. Blood sugar levels are measured in two ways i.e. molar concentrations, measured in mmol/L (millimoles per litre) and mass concentration which is measured in mg/dL (milligrams per decilitre).

The above graph depicts just how an individual’s Random Glucose level fluctuates throughout the day. Mealtimes such as breakfast, lunch and dinner produce spikes in the Glucose levels as expected. This person may still be diabetic or prediabetic, however, as we can see from the above, this method of diagnosis may be inaccurate. In terms of managing one’s day to day diet however, this test could prove useful, specifically for individuals using insulin.

The HBA1C test

When seeking to determine one’s status in terms of diabetes, the HbA1c, also known as the A1C or glycosylated haemoglobin test, can be used for the accurate diagnosis of both prediabetes and diabetes.  The A1C test measures the average blood glucose control over a period of 2 to 3 months. The period alone which is set aside for the measurement of an individual’s blood glucose levels ensures a significant dataset on which outcomes are based. The possibility of an outcome being skewed due to a once-off view of an individual’s A1C percentage is nullified, so fasting or having a meal before taking the test won’t have an impact on the test reading, as is the case with the random blood glucose test.

Most tests of this nature require a period of fasting prior to being carried out, however in the case of the A1C test, this is not the case and proves more convenient in this regard. In terms of interpreting the outcomes of the assessment, it is important to note that an A1C of 5.7% to 6.4% means that the individual is at high risk for the development of diabetes and that prediabetes is in fact evident. Diabetes is diagnosed in circumstances when the A1C is 6.5% or higher.

The graph above shows an individual who is Prediabetic i.e. who has an average A1C of 5.7% to 6.4% as measured over a 6 month period.

The graph above similarly depicts a clear outcome, in this case, that the HbA1C test has yielded a positive diagnosis for diabetes i.e. the patient has an A1C of 6.5% or higher as measured over the course of 6 months.

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So, what does this mean?

It is critical to understand that these two tests, although similar, are in fact carried out for different reasons. Both require a sample of the individual’s blood i.e. a prick of the finger or a vial of blood drawn from the arm. Having a higher than normal blood glucose level does not necessarily mean that an individual is pre-diabetic or diabetic. For confirmation of one’s diabetic status, the one sure way to know is to have the HbA1c test. It is for this reason that AllLife requests the HbA1c test results when assessing a diabetic insurance candidate, it’s simply the most accurate indicator regarding diabetes and one that cares givers the world over rely on.

We all have questions.

Below are some of the answers to the most common questions that you need to know.

Which is worse – Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?

“Worse” is a harsh comparison. The difference between these two types of Diabetes is that Type 1 requires insulin, and it never goes away. Type 2 requires consistent effort and can be managed over your lifetime.

What is the normal HbA1C level?

It is generally accepted that you should maintain HbA1C below 8%. The following guidelines are suggested by the South African Diabetes Association:

  • 4 – 6% Non-diabetic range. 
  • < 7% Well-controlled diabetic 7% – 8% Acceptable diabetic control > 8% 
  • Poor diabetic control needs attention.
What is the main cause of Diabetes?

Diabetes (Type 1) is usually a predisposed or genetically inherited condition. Diabetes (Type 2) is caused by lifestyle choices. Gestational Diabetes can be caused by either genetics or lifestyle choices.

What are the first signs of diabetes?
  • Excessive thirst over a prolonged period.
  • Increased frequency in the need to urinate.
  • Significant weight loss or gain.
  • You find yourself fatigued, tired, and irritable, on a regular basis.
  • Open or ruptured wounds take a long time to heal.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Tingling sensations in your hands and feet.
Can you get life insurance if you have Diabetes?

Yes. AllLife can help you get up to R10million life insurance, as either a Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetic.

Can I test myself for Diabetes?

Although you can easily test your own blood glucose levels at any time, only your doctor, nurse, or clinic team can confirm a Diabetes diagnosis. This is because a series of specific tests are required for diagnosis.

Up to R10 million Life Cover for people living with Diabetes.

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What will I be covered for?

With just one phone call, you could be offered comprehensive Diabetic Life Cover and Diabetic Disability Cover (optional). A simple underwriting process is completed once you’ve signed up, usually consisting of common blood tests, to determine if full cover can be continued.

What happens after I‘m covered?

After you’re covered you can enjoy the benefit of our Health Control Programme where we remind and assist you when it comes to regular tests and checkups, ensuring that you live a healthy and happy life.

Remember, life cover gets more expensive as you get older, so your premium will never be lower than it is today.

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*Risk Profile Dependent, Premiums increase by 6% every year and can be reviewed given 30 days' notice.