Managing Sweetness with Hemoglobin A1c

Health & FitnessMedicine

  • Author Martin North
  • Published September 5, 2014
  • Word count 537

What is HbA1c?

The HbA1c test is also called the glycosylated hemoglobin test and is typically expressed as a percentage. If you are currently suffering from Type 2 diabetes, assessing your HbA1c can tell you how effective your treatment is and how well your diabetes is under control. High levels indicate a problem with current treatment and a physician may recommend appropriate changes to the doses or frequencies of medicines which are prescribed.

The key to keeping your HbA1c low is to regularly check your blood glucose levels using a quality glucometer, which is a significant component of any diabetes treatment regimen. A blood glucose test will give you a precise amount of the blood glucose levels found in your body at any specific point in time. The HbA1c evaluation will tell you how well your blood glucose has been maintained over the past 3 months on average. The HbA1c can quickly point out if you’ve been having too many bad days in regards to your blood glucose levels, which is a good indication that a change of treatment is in order.

How the HbA1c Test Works

Glycosylation occurs when hemoglobin attaches to red blood cells. The HbA1c blood test essentially measures the quantity of glucose that's attached to each red blood cell. A blood test is drawn and sent to the laboratory after which results arrive in a day or two. The perfect level is around 6.5%, but since this isn't always attainable, a level under 7% is usually desired. In fact, the real goal is the number agreed upon with your physician. It's vital that you stick to that goal while undergoing your particular diabetic treatment for optimal health and reducing potential dangerous, even lethal consequences of diabetes.

Anyone with diabetes should receive the HbA1c test every three to six months. Those who have more poorly controlled blood sugars should get examined more frequently to ensure that optimal levels are being obtained.

Assessing your HbA1c results with a physician at least once every 6 months will provide you with an excellent indicator on how well you are controlling your diabetes. While getting the test isn’t as convenient as checking your glucose levels at home, knowledge of the results can help you and your physician take more decisive action on finding an ideal treatment regimen for you.

Sometimes, aside from a treatment change, an entire lifestyle change may be in order. Your physician will let you know what you have to do. The most important thing is to regularly check your blood glucose levels at home, so that you take action faster if your treatment requires modifications. Also, since the HbA1c level is a running average, this can lead to an increased level of compliance because it’s difficult to "fudge" blood sugar numbers if someone at risk for not sticking to a treatment plan. Therefore, it can be of great benefit to the healthcare provider to devise alternative treatment plans if they are dealing with noncompliant patients.

Disclaimer: The information contained herein is for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please check with your health care professional before implementing any treatment for diabetes.

Martin North RN, BSN has 15 years clinical experience caring for those who have diabetes. He is committed to writing quality articles in an effort to help manage or even prevent the complications that come with diabetes. For more information visit:

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