July 24


What Level of Blood Sugar is Considered as Normal?

By Gabriela

July 24, 2017

Finding out if our blood sugar is normal is not as simple as it seems. It depends on our particular situation.

To find out whether our blood sugar is normal, there are several factors we should take into consideration.

Still, we should consult our doctor to find out our personal goals.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Range of Blood Sugar Levels

First of all, we have to know how blood sugar is measured. In the USA, the standard measurement is by weight in mg i.e. milligrams per dl i.e. deciliter. While in most cases, everyone else uses millimole i.e. mmol per liter.

People from the USA should see the big numbers, while others should see the small numbers.

Someone that does not have diabetes usually has blood sugars between 70 to 100 mg/dl which is 3.8 and also 5.5. mmol. And after they eat, their levels of blood sugar can rise to 120 mg/dl i.e. 6.7 mmol.

And within 2 hours it will return to normal. On the other hand, the situation is more complicated with people that don’t have this insidious disease.

People That Have Hypoglycemia i.e. Low Blood Sugars

The blood sugar of these people is below 70 mg/dl i.e. below 3.8 mmol. When the blood sugars are below this level, we can experience racing our heart, hunger, or shakiness.

That is when the body is starving for sugar i.e. glucose.

Normal Blood Sugar

For these people their blood sugar is from 70 mg/dL to 140 mg/dL i.e. 3.8 mmol to 7.7 mmol. The body functions normally as it should.

People that do not have the disease, most of the time are in the lower half of this range.

Elevated Blood Sugars

The blood sugar is 140 mg/dL to 180 mg/dL i.e. 7.7 mmol to 10 mmol. The body may function relatively normally.

But, if we are in this zone for a long period that can lead to a risk of long-term complications.

High Blood Sugar

The blood sugars in this range are above 180 mg/dl i.e. above 10 mmol. When in this range, our kidney is not able to reabsorb all amounts of glucose in the blood, and we can start to spill sugar i.e. glucose in the urine.

The body can start to release ketones in the urine and turn to fat to get energy. To find out if we have ketones in the urine, we may buy strips to make a test.

If someone has ketones in the urine, they should immediately see a doctor.

Fasting Blood Sugar or Normal Waking Blood Sugar

In an ideal situation, if we have diabetes we need to wake up with normal blood sugars. However, numerous people experience the “dawn phenomenon.”

When the body gets ready to start moving and wake up, it liberates stored sugar into our blood. This can lead to a moderate spike when it comes to blood sugar.

We can check whether we have this “dawn phenomenon.” We need to do the test at night, set the alarm to wake up, and check blood sugar.

If it is in the normal range, we can relax because then it is fine. But if it is high after we wake up the reason behind it might be the “dawn phenomenon.”

However, if there is a small spike that disappears quickly, probably it is nothing serious. However, just to be sure, we should consult our doctor.

The spike from this phenomenon is usually less than the spike from consuming a typical meal. Bear in mind that events from the night before might affect the morning blood sugars.

Another thing that might have an impact on blood sugar is the amount of medicine we took, and also the number of carbs we consumed.

One more thing that can cause high blood sugar is a stressful night of turning and tossing.

The key to finding out the reason why we have high blood sugars in the morning is to learn the reasons behind the rise and fall of our blood sugars by checking our blood sugars.

Normal Post-Meal Blood Sugars

This chart compares the blood sugars after eating in an individual without the disease and the individual with it. The recommendation from experts is to keep the rise after eating below 180 mg/dl i.e. 10 mmol.

If we look at the chart carefully, we will understand things better. One hour after eating,  is 200 mg/dL i.e. 11 mmol a high blood sugar?

If before we started eating we were actually at 150 mg/dL i.e. 8.3 mmol, then it is not. That means that our meal caused only a small bump of 50 mg/dL which is 2.8 mmol.

This is perfectly reasonable for an individual that has a pancreas that functions perfectly. It is crucial to know where we began to find out if our blood sugar is at its normal level.

What Level of Blood Sugar Is Healthy?

This question always leads to a long debate. According to long-term studies, the risk of complications has a dramatic drop off when the HbA1c is lower than 7 percent, which is estimated average blood sugar of 154 mg/dL i.e. 8.6 mmol.

It will continue to drop until it comes below 6 percent, average blood glucose of 126 mg/dL i.e. 7 mmol.

Many people strive for lower targets than this. However, there is still no research that outlines this approach and its benefits.

Another thing is that A1c studies only pay attention to averages. While in reality, based on genetics there is a large difference when it comes to the risk of complications.

There are cases of individuals who had 30 or 40 years of diabetes type 1 controlling high blood sugar levels without experiencing any complications.

On the other side, some people have almost perfect blood sugars, and still, they have complications.

For most people, a realistic goal to stay healthy is HbA1c of below 7 percent and even below 6.5. percent.

However, of course, for every rule, there is an exception. The doctors can recommend even higher targets for individuals that have some health conditions, which are not able to sense low blood sugars, or for older adults.

Most complications do not occur right away, they, in fact, need decades to happen. For example, if someone at the age of 90 gets diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, there is almost no chance for that individual to experience the complications.

That is why our doctor can prescribe us less intensive therapies. According to many studies, the time spent in a healthy range is more important when compared to our A1c.

Note About The Accuracy of The Meter

We should know that in the USA the meter is usually approved for sale as long as the results have consistency within 20 percent of the right number.

To be more accurate, if we have a blood sugar of 180 mg/dL i.e. 10 mmol, then even the following result will be seen as accurate 216 mg/dL i.e. 12 mmol or even  144 mg/dL or 8 mmol.

Bear in mind that in practice, most of the meters are accurate. However, we should also know that even a hospital blood test with the use of calibrated equipment has a 10 percent margin of error.

Next time we check our very own blood sugar we should remember not to panic if it shows 140 mg/dL (7.7 mmol) and if we recheck it a couple of minutes later and it gives us a different result such as 150 mg/dL i.e. 8.3 mmol.

Remember that this is a change of only 1 mmol or 10 mg/dL, and it is probably because of the meter.

Is The Level of My Blood Sugar Normal?

And that is how we ended up with this seemingly simple question, which comes with a very long answer.

Remember that we need to talk to our doctor about healthy blood sugars for us.

Source DD | Cleveland Clinic


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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