What does a fasting blood glucose of 102 mean?
September 7, 2011 7:37 PM   Subscribe

What does a fasting blood glucose of 102 mean?

I understand that a normal reading is under 100, so my fasting reading of 102 is slightly elevated. Does this mean that I'm officially prediabetic?

My doctor's approach is to just "keep an eye on it and test it next year." Does this sound correct? Is there anything else I could or should do to monitor my blood sugar or change my diet?

I am a normal weight and exercise regularly. I do have a family history of diabetes but no one in my family ever developed it at such a young age.
posted by mintchip to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Two points is a negligible difference. Don't worry about it.
posted by Gridlock Joe at 7:41 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

"... I do have a family history of diabetes but no one in my family ever developed it at such a young age."
posted by mintchip to health & fitness

Welcome to the wonderful world of 21st century gene patrol. I think your doctor's general advice is sound, given your current number and physical shape. With your family history, you have to keep checking your blood sugar level, and keep your weight and diet under reasonable control. Otherwise, live life (with some nod to moderation in all things), and enjoy, and be prepared to do more, when you need to do more.
posted by paulsc at 7:43 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

I ran this by my resident physician, who sees a lot of diabetic/pre-diabetic patients. She recommends losing 10 lbs, starting now, by cutting out "white foods" (rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, sugar). If you drink a lot of soda, cutting that entirely might accomplish this. Then check again next year. Good luck.

On preview: she disagrees with the "wait and see" approach. "Don't fuck around with diabetes."
posted by Maximian at 7:45 PM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

IANAD. However -

There is always some tolerance in the accuracy of these tests. Additionally, there are other factors that can raise your FBG, such as stress, so take it easy and follow your doctor's advice. You're probably fine.
posted by blurker at 7:46 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

(I am not a doctor) It suggests to me that your insulin sensitivity is probably less than ideal. Having a higher than normal blood glucose level isn't just an indicator of stuff that could be wrong -- in and of itself it indicates that you're doing some level of subtle damage to your body (it is bad for you to have an elevated blood glucose level). With that in mind, I would recommend taking steps to try to increase your insulin sensitivity, and then retest your fasting blood glucose after adhering to those changes for a couple of months.
posted by telegraph at 7:46 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Was the test on one of those portable glucose monitors? I hope your doctor knows there's a lot of variation between different machines. You could be 102 on one machine and 94 on another. (I can't remember what the usual variation between machines is exactly.)

Wait and see is good advice because you have it in your family, not because you tested 102 once.
posted by INTPLibrarian at 7:53 PM on September 7, 2011

p.s. IANAD, but I've had Type I diabetes for almost 30 years.
posted by INTPLibrarian at 7:54 PM on September 7, 2011

I am also not a doctor. I have insulin resistance syndrome though I am at a healthy weight and BMI. I too have a family history with Type II diabetes.

Does this mean that I'm officially prediabetic?
Not necessarily. I agree with the commenters that it may be measurement error. I believe the variation that can occur is +/- 15mg/dL

Is there anything else I could or should do to monitor my blood sugar or change my diet?
If you really want to get proactive you can investigate a low carb diet. However, I would not do this without seeking the advice from a nutritionist or letting your doctor know about it first.

I am surprised your doctor has not called for an A1C if they truly want to keep an eye on it.
posted by BuffaloChickenWing at 8:03 PM on September 7, 2011

Seems within the normal range for me assuming you did a Glucose Tolerance Test.


Obviously consult a doctor, and it never really hurts to loose excess weight or cut refined foods in order to add 100% whole grains. Also, cutting soda and other sugary drinks is always a plus.
posted by Mr. Papagiorgio at 8:09 PM on September 7, 2011

I was freaked out by the prospect of developing gestational diabetes, so I invested in a relatively cheap home monitor and tested myself regularly. I forget when you're supposed to do it, though--I think before you eat and 2 hours after? My OB helped me out with that.

So, listen to your doctor, but if you need or want extra reassurance you can always test at home.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:14 PM on September 7, 2011

You didn't give any units, but I assume that the units are mg/dL. The cut-off for fasting blood glucose is 126 mg/dL, not 100 mg/dL. In fact, fasting blood glucose levels up to 110 mg/dL are considered within normal range. You are fine.
posted by qxrt at 8:28 PM on September 7, 2011

You're fine. But I came here to add that there is strong evidence that physical activity is as important as both eating habits and weight when it comes to diabetes. So keep up that regular exercise, or step it up, and that's advice for anyone really - no matter their blood sugar!
posted by serazin at 8:39 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

126 mg/dL is the cutoff for diabetes; 100 is the cutoff for prediabetes (impaired fasting glucose).
posted by blurker at 8:40 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

You could go to the pharmacy and buy one of those finger-pricking devices and glucose monitoring strips and start monitoring your blood sugar while fasting (before breakfast), one hour after eating, and two hours after eating. You can google what the normal ranges. If you do this for awhile, you will learn

a) if the slightly abnormal reading was anomolous
b) which foods give you abnormal readings
c) how exercise affects your blood sugar

If you test more than once in a row, you will also learn that the readings are not that accurate.
Nevertheless, I found monitoring my glucose (during pregnancy) helped me eat better and exercise because there would be a test later.

Good luck!
posted by pizzazz at 9:04 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

I learned everything I needed to know about diabetes recently when I had gestational diabetes during my pregnancy - initially controlled by diet, and then by diet and glyburide - I had to do a pin prick blood test at least 3x's per day and record my results.


Sugar, bread, rice sparingly. Nothing fried. Nothing with fructose corn syrup. Basically, I am totally low carb now because I see what the relationship is between blood sugar, weight gain, and my health.

I no longer have diabetes now that I've given birth.

I'm glad I had lots of french fries back in the day when this did not matter.

Potatoes are your enemy now. A beloved, but sworn enemy. Consume these responsibly, in any form, if at all.

Controlling my blood sugar through diet was SO MUCH easier than with the meds, FWIW.

Start now.
posted by jbenben at 9:52 PM on September 7, 2011

Since I am at high risk for diabetes (family history and PCOS), my doctor said I can test once in a while if I want to. No set schedule or anything. He even gave me a free meter. I know another friend at high risk for diabetes and she tests once in a while as well. Maybe once every couple of months. The meters and lancets aren't expensive, although the strips are... mine were $26 for a box of 25. Since I was following written instructions and didn't have anyone to show me how to test (should have asked the doc!) I wasted about 3 strips on learning until I finally got it on the 4th try. (It came with 10 strips.) First there wasn't enough blood, then it smeared, then I did it too soon before the meter was ready.

Favorite tip: When the nurse at the doctor's office tested me, she used my finger tip. That hurts! Use the side of your finger tip. Hopefully there's a diagram with your meter (which, as I mentioned - ask your doc, he may have freebies) which shows you where to test.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:05 AM on September 8, 2011

Are you me, by any chance?

I had a blood test with similar results, got told 'eat less white stuff and see what happens', moved, had another blood test that came back just in the normal range, though the change was minimal, and that doctor was like 'Problem solved'. I was a bit skeptical. I've since seen a third doctor and had another blood test, which was again just high and got told 'We'll keep an eye on that.' (I related the backstory and she was still happy with doing another blood test in a few months and seeing what happened.)

The losing 10lbs thing may or may not be feasible--I don't have 10lbs to lose.
posted by hoyland at 4:52 AM on September 8, 2011

If losing 10 pounds isn't going to work, what will work is building some muscle. Muscle consumes a lot of energy just sitting there, and will work to sop up the extra glucose.

I had similar problems with fasting glucose, and they were mostly solved by sitting down and looking at my diet and realizing that while I wasn't eating that much food, it was high-calorie, low-quality foods. If you just switch to eating more protein, you'll be less hungry for the empty carbs.
posted by gjc at 7:02 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Anecdote alert: I do fasting blood draws ever 6 months because my cholesterol is high. I had exactly one high fasting glucose level (similar to yours), three years ago, and it hasn't been high again since. A colleague of mine who studies diabetes in the lab assured me that there are many reasons you might have a one-off high or low reading.

That said, if this is your inspiration to eat a little better and keep up your good exercise habits, then great.
posted by BrashTech at 7:19 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

As a two-time gestational diabetic (diet controlled, thankfully), I can confirm that one reading is not sufficient to give a definitive answer. It's a bit like weighing yourself one day and then saying that's your definitive weight. It depends on so many things (have you had a heavy meal the night before, have you been to the bathroom, did you have a lot of water, etc).

You need to monitor your blood glucose over the course of several days. You need to see the effect of last night's dinner on your fasting numbers. If the 102 is confirmed over several reads you are definitely in the low pre-diabetic range - a completely healthy person should not have that high a fasting read ever. Unless perhaps that person had a complete carb overload late the night before, and even then, it would not be a good thing that their glucose was still so elevated by the morning.

Carbs are the enemy of anybody, not just prediabetics and diabetics. It's really not that hard to modify your diet to reduce them once you're aware of the damage they do. Just up the protein instead (and don't go low fat, it'll keep you hungry).

Try it, you'll feel so much better, you'll lose excess weight, and you'll be doing your future self a favour by postponing the arrival of the diabetes that runs in the family.

Also, as someone who checked her blood glucose many times before and after meals to figure out how my body processes the carbs, I found even the mild physical exercise of a walk after eating had a positive effect on my levels.

That's the great value of having that little monitor: you have the answer right away, without needing to see your doctor. You learn how what you eat affects you and how exercise affects you.
posted by Dragonness at 7:43 AM on September 8, 2011

IANAD. If it was me, I'd switch doctors immediately. What you want to know, is if your reading is a one-off, or a sign that something is going on. For that, it would be useful to test glycated hemoglobin:

"Glycated hemoglobin ( hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c, A1C, or Hb1c; sometimes also HbA1c) is a form of hemoglobin which is measured primarily to identify the average plasma glucose concentration over prolonged periods of time. It is formed in a non-enzymatic glycation pathway by hemoglobin's exposure to plasma glucose. Normal levels of glucose produce a normal amount of glycated hemoglobin. As the average amount of plasma glucose increases, the fraction of glycated hemoglobin increases in a predictable way. This serves as a marker for average blood glucose levels over the previous months prior to the measurement."

This test is crucial to determine if you are having a problem, but regardless, having blood sugar that high is an issue. You should take measures to lower those levels. Several posters already remarked upon dietary approaches, and I would add that cutting back on calories is a critical factor. Exercise is also important, especially anaerobic (such as weight-lifting) - here in particular, if you can swing it, it would be useful to time your exercise to deplete your muscles of glucose just before you eat, and then also some time after the meal so that the glucose is taken up quickly. See the charts in Regulation of Skeletal Muscle Glucose Uptake During Exercise.

Diabetes is an extremely destructive disease, and any doctor who is not actively seeking to have you take measures to prevent it, at this high a blood sugar level, is not a doctor worth having, IMHO.
posted by VikingSword at 10:26 AM on September 8, 2011

Seconding the recommendation that you get an A1C test. It gives an average blood sugar level for the prior three months. That constitutes the answer to what you're worrying about. Ask your doctor to either do it or refer you to a lab that will. The A1C numbers are on a completely different scale from the test you had, so do some research.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:45 AM on September 8, 2011

Nthing A1C.

It's pretty easy to modify a diet toward a more preventative one, unless you're used to living on junk food. Just add extra veggies, switch to whole grains, reduce sugar (or eliminate it, but that's a little extreme at this point), and make sure you're not bombing yourself with lots of carbs in one meal.
posted by moira at 1:35 PM on September 8, 2011

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