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A random glucose test is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a random blood test to check glucose levels. It’s a powerful tool for people with diabetes. Also called casual testing, it can help assess how well the disease is being managed.
Random blood glucose values vary depending on the last time you ate. If you are testing within one to two hours after the start of a meal, the American Diabetes Association recommends glucose levels be under 180 mg/dL.
For other random times of day, levels will generally be below 125 mg/dL for people with well-controled diabetes.
In healthy adults, glucose levels are managed through the actions of insulin and the body’s use of sugar for energy. If a healthy adult without diabetes received random glucose tests throughout the day, their glucose levels would remain relatively stable. This would be true even if they:
In people with diabetes and prediabetes, glucose levels can vary widely over the course of the day. This is particularly true if the disease is not well managed. In these people, random test results will vary widely. Tests may also be consistently high.
A random test is one performed outside your normal testing schedule. Random testing is an important part of diabetes management. If random glucose levels are acceptable, your strategy is probably working. Wide swings in your levels suggest you need to change your management plan.
Remember, high sugar levels are what cause the complications seen with diabetes over time. Symptoms of acute high blood sugar levels include:
Random glucose testing isn’t a substitute for your normal glucose testing schedule. You should also perform fasting tests and post-meal tests as suggested by your doctor.
A fasting blood glucose test is usually performed upon waking, before you eat. Post-meal blood glucose tests measure glucose levels around two hours after the start of a meal. Different testing times will yield different results. These are affected by:
It’s important to test every day. This helps you get a sense of your overall blood sugar control and can help you make treatment decisions. Testing is the best way to learn how your sugar is affected by your lifestyle, medications, or both.
Exercise can play a role in your random glucose test results. Generally, exercise will lower glucose levels. It may even require you to adjust your insulin regimen, if you’re on intensive insulin therapy. However, don’t let that discourage you from exercising. Exercise is one of the best ways you can help control diabetes. Most people with diabetes gain benefits from even moderate exercise.
Exercise increases your body’s ability to use insulin. It also burns extra glucose in your bloodstream. In the long term, exercise will lead to more stable random glucose test results.
If you have diabetes, paying close attention to your symptoms is very important. Many people with diabetes dread the horrible feelings of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. Be sure to test immediately if you feel you are experiencing low blood sugar. Random blood glucose readings can help you identify hyperglycemia and help you to avoid any chronic complications.
Testing your blood glucose levels at various times throughout the day can help you manage your diabetes and reduce your risk of complications. The only way you can know what your blood sugar level is is to test it on a regular basis.
Diabetes is a very serious condition. However, you can control it. The key is healthy behavior changes combined with good glucose monitoring. If you find that your glucose levels just aren’t getting under control, it’s time to speak with your doctor. You may need to make changes in your management program.
Written by: Brett Huffman and Justin Sarachik
Published on: Aug 08, 2014
Medically reviewed on: Mar 02, 2016: Mark R Laflamme, MD
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