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Understanding A1C: What it Measures and Why It Matters

Have you ever heard about something called A1C? It is a simple test that helps doctors check how well your body manages sugar, also known as glucose.  

Let’s explore what A1C is and why it’s essential for staying healthy. 

What is A1C and What Does It Measure?

A1C is a blood test that shows the amount of sugar present in your blood over the past 2 to 3 months. But why does this matter? Well, after we eat, our bodies break down food into glucose, a kind of fuel for our cells. For the glucose to be stored and used for energy it requires insulin. Insulin is a special hormone that helps move the glucose from the blood into your cells to give us energy. 

The A1C test measures the percentage of glucose that attaches itself to a component of our red blood cells known as hemoglobin. When sugar sticks to it, it gives doctors an insight into your average blood sugar levels across a span of time. This way, they can understand how well your body has been managing glucose over the past few months. 

What is A1C Used For?

Doctors use the A1C test to better understand how someone living with diabetes is managing their condition. If you have diabetes, a high A1C might mean your blood sugar levels have been consistently high, which can lead to health problems. For people without diabetes, the test helps check for the risk of developing it in the future.   

What Can Affect Your A1C Levels?

Many things can affect your A1C levels. Eating healthy, staying active, and taking medicines as prescribed by your doctor can help keep it in a healthy range. But if you eat too many sugary foods, forget to take your medicine, or don’t exercise enough, your A1C might be higher than it should be. 

How to Prepare for an A1C Test?

If your doctor says you need an A1C test, there’s not much special preparation required. You can eat and drink as usual – no fasting needed! Just make sure to follow any instructions your doctor gives you before the test. It’s that simple! 

To Recap

Remember, A1C isn’t something to fear. It’s just a way for doctors to understand how your body handles sugar. If you have questions about your A1C or diabetes, ask your doctor. And if you want to keep your A1C in a healthy range, try to eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and follow your doctor’s advice. Taking care of yourself can make a big difference! 

Author: Connie Ely, Pharmacist | CCS Health   

This site is for educational purposes only. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before making any decisions about your health.