What is a Hemoglobin A1C?
Having a stable blood sugar level is one of the most underestimated aspects of health. If your blood sugar is too low, it can cause fainting, fatigue, and in more severe cases, seizures. If it’s too high, it can cause damage to your nerves, blood vessels, and organs. Monitoring your blood sugar levels is critical to those who suffer from diabetes.
Diabetes can happen to anyone, from all walks of life. And unfortunately, it does – and in numbers that are dramatically increasing. In the last decade alone, the cases of people living with diabetes jumped almost 50% to more than 30 million Americans. Worldwide, it afflicts more than 422 million people.
But what exactly is diabetes and how does it relate to your blood sugar levels?
To answer that, you first need to understand the role of insulin in your body. When you eat, your body turns food into sugars, or glucose. At that point, your pancreas is supposed to release insulin. Insulin serves as a “key” to open your cells, allowing the glucose to enter and be used for energy.
But with diabetes, this system does not work.
The A1C test is a blood test that provides information about a person’s average levels of blood glucose (also called blood sugar) over the past 3 months. The A1C test is the primary test used for diabetes management and diabetes research.
The A1C test is based on the attachment of glucose to hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. In the body, red blood cells are constantly forming and dying, but typically they live for about 3 months. Thus, the A1C test reflects the average of a person’s blood glucose levels over the past 3 months. The A1C test result is reported as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the higher a person’s blood glucose levels have been.
Who should get this test?
People who take control of their own diabetes care by eating healthy foods and living an active lifestyle often have good control of their blood sugar levels. Still, regular health checkups and tests are needed.
Testing is especially important because early in the disease diabetes presents no symptoms. Although no test is perfect, the A1C and blood glucose tests are the best tools available to diagnose diabetes.
Symptoms of diabetes may include:
- An increase in how often you need to urinate
- Blurred vision
- Confusion or a change in the way you normally talk or behave
- Fainting spells
- Seizures (for the first time)
When will I receive my results?
Once completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How do I prepare? Do I need to fast?
No preparation or fasting required. Just bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.