Diabetes: Blood Sugar Levels

Topic Overview

Keeping your blood sugar in a target range reduces your risk of problems such as diabetic eye disease (retinopathy), kidney disease (nephropathy), and nerve disease (neuropathy).

Some people can work toward lower numbers, and some people may need higher goals.

For example, some children and adolescents with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, people who have severe complications from diabetes, people who may not live much longer, or people who have trouble recognizing the symptoms of low blood sugar may have a higher target range.

And some people, such as those who are newly diagnosed with diabetes or who don't have any complications from diabetes, may do better with a lower target range.

Work with your doctor to set your own target blood sugar range. This will help you achieve the best control possible without having a high risk of hypoglycemia.

Diabetes Canada suggests the following A1c and blood glucose ranges as a general guide.

  • Most adults (non-pregnant) footnote 1
    • A1c: 7.0% or less
    • Blood glucose:
      • Fasting and before meals: 4.0 to 7.0 millimoles per litre (mmol/L)
      • 2 hours after meals: 5.0 to 10.0 mmol/L or 5.0 to 8.0 mmol/L if A1c targets are not being met
  • Women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who become pregnant footnote 2
    • A1c: 6.5% or less (6.1% or less if possible)
    • Blood glucose:
      • Fasting and before meals: Less than 5.3 mmol/L
      • 1 hour after meals: Less than 7.8 mmol/L
      • 2 hours after meals: Less than 6.7 mmol/L
  • Women with gestational diabetes footnote 2
    • Blood glucose:
      • Fasting and before meals: Less than 5.3 mmol/L
      • 1 hour after meals: Less than 7.8 mmol/L
      • 2 hours after meals: Less than 6.7 mmol/L
  • Children with type 1 diabetes (0 to 18 years old) footnote 3
    • A1c: 7.5% or less
    • Blood glucose:
      • Fasting and before meals: 4.0 to 8.0 mmol/L
      • 2 hours after meals: 5.0 to 10.0 mmol/L
  • Children, adolescents, and young adults with type 2 diabetes (up to 18 years old) footnote 4
    • A1c: 7.0% or less

Health Tools

Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.

Actionsets are designed to help people take an active role in managing a health condition.

References

Citations

  1. Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee, et al. (2018). Targets for glycemic control. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 42(Suppl 1): S42–S46. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcjd.2017.10.030. Accessed October 15, 2018.
  2. Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee, et al. (2018). Diabetes and pregnancy. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 42(Suppl 1): S255–S282. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcjd.2017.10.038. Accessed October 15, 2018. [Erratum in Canadian Journal of Diabetes 42(3): 337. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcjd.2018.04.006.] Accessed October 12, 2018.
  3. Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee, et al. (2018). Type 1 diabetes in children and adolescents. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 42(Suppl 1): S234–S246. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcjd.2017.10.036. Accessed October 15, 2018.
  4. Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee, et al. (2018). Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 42(Suppl 1): S247–S254. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcjd.2017.10.037. Accessed October 15, 2018.

Other Works Consulted

  • American Diabetes Association (2017). Standards of medical care in diabetes—2017. Diabetes Care, 40(Suppl 1): S1–S135.
  • Inzucchi SE, et al. (2015). Management of hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes, 2015: A patient-centered approach: Update to a position statement of the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. Diabetes Care, 38(1): 140–149. DOI: 10.2337/dc14-2441. Accessed February 18, 2015.

Credits

Current as of: December 20, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Donald Sproule MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

Thanks to our partners and endorsers: