What is a blood sugar test, how is it tested & what does it show?

A blood sugar test can be used to monitor and diagnose type 1 and 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes. This guide highlights what a blood sugar test is, how it is undertaken and what the results may show.

What is the test for blood sugar?

A blood sugar test involves checking the levels of glucose in the blood. There are several types of blood sugar tests. However, a very common test is called a glycated haemoglobin A1C test (also known as the HbA1c test). This test is undertaken by taking a small blood sample either via a needle or via a finger prick. The sample will then be used to measure the HbA1c level which will give an indication of your average blood sugar levels over the last 4-6 weeks.

The other types of blood glucose tests available are generally undertaken in the event that A1C test results are inconclusive. These tests include:

  • Random blood sugar tests: taken at a random time, regardless of when you had your last meal.
  • Oral glucose tolerance tests: taken after fasting overnight and then at specific times after drinking a liquid containing a defined amount of sugar.
  • Fasting blood sugar tests: taken after fasting overnight.

What is a blood glucose test used for?

A blood glucose test shows whether your blood sugar level is high (hyper-glycemia) or low (hypoglycaemia). This information can be used to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes, as well as monitoring an existing diabetic condition and helping to determine the need to adjust diabetes medication, diet, and / or exercise routine.

Prediabetes doesn’t usually have any signs or symptoms. Therefore, it is particularly important to get tested if you are at an increased risk of developing diabetes due to:

  • Being overweight
  • Being over 45 years old
  • Doing little to no exercising
  • Having high blood pressure and / or high triglycerides levels
  • Having low ‘good’ cholesterol levels (HDL)
  • Having a history of insulin resistance, strokes and / or hypertension
  • Having a family history of diabetes
  • Having had diabetes in pregnancy

Even though pre-diabetes is usually symptomless, an indicator of the condition could include symptoms such as fatigue, blurred vision, frequent urination, excess hunger and thirst. The evolution from prediabetes to diabetes can result in symptoms such as fatigue, blurred vision, frequent urination, and excess hunger and thirst.

How do I prepare for a blood glucose test?

There is no preparation required for a standard A1C blood glucose test, and you can eat and drink as normal before the test. The other types of blood glucose tests however generally require overnight fasting and taking the test at a particular time.

What is the normal range for blood sugar?

For a standard A1C test, a reading of anything below 6% is considered normal and a low risk of developing diabetes. A level of 6% – 6.4% indicates prediabetes and a high risk of developing diabetes. A level of 6.5% and above means a person meets the definition of being diabetic.

How do you feel when your blood sugar is too high?

Some of the most common hyperglycaemia symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent urination
  • Drowsiness
  • Excess hunger and thirst

It is recommended to seek medical attention if you are experiencing such symptoms.

How can I lower my blood sugar level?

You can reduce the risk of developing diabetes and prediabetes by:

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Exercising
  • Eating a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables
  • Cutting out sugary drinks and refined carbohydrates such as white bread and rice.

How can I get my blood sugar tested?

At a clinic

You can book a health check with one of our Certified Healthcare professionals at one of over 2,000 mobile clinics nationwide. All of our Health MOT Packages include a blood sugar test, in addition to a wide array of health markers for a detailed view of your health. You can choose between 3 levels of testing to suit your own personal needs.

At Home

Alternatively, you can get a liver function test from the comfort of your own home with a single blood sugar home test kit. All you need to do is order your kit, take your own sample, send it back in our pre-addressed return envelope, and wait to receive your results online within 8 days.