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Glycohemoglobin (HbA1c, A1c)

How It Feels

The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.

Risks

Blood test

There is very little chance of a problem from having blood sample taken from a vein.

  • You may get a small bruise at the site. You can lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes.
  • In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be used several times a day to treat this.
  • Ongoing bleeding can be a problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell your doctor before your blood sample is taken.

Results

A1c is a blood test that checks the amount of sugar (glucose) bound to hemoglobin camera.gif. The result is shown as a percentage. The result of your A1c test can also be used to estimate your average blood sugar level. This is called your estimated average glucose, or eAG. Your doctor will have your test results in a few days.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) criteria to diagnose diabetes includes the option of testing A1c. The diagnosis of diabetes needs to be confirmed by repeating the same blood sugar test or doing a different test on another day.

Normal

The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.

Glycohemoglobin A1c 1
Normal

Less than 5.7%

Prediabetes (increased risk for diabetes)

5.7%–6.4%

Diabetes

6.5% and higher

The ADA recommends that most nonpregnant adults who have diabetes have an A1c level less than 7%.2 Talk to your doctor about your diabetes treatment plan and your target A1c goal.

A1c and estimated average glucose (eAG) 2
A1c % Estimated average plasma glucose (mg/dL) Estimated average plasma glucose (mmol/L)
6%

126

7.0

7%

154

8.6

8%

183

10.2

9%

212

11.8

10%

240

13.4

11%

269

14.9

12%

298

16.5

A1c recommendations for children and teens 2
Age A1c %
Children younger than 6 years old Less than 8.5%
Children ages 6–12 years old Less than 8%
Teens ages 13–19 years old Less than 7.5%

High values

Some medical conditions can increase A1c levels, but the results may still be within a normal range. These conditions include Cushing's syndrome, pheochromocytoma, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Corticosteroid treatment increases the A1c level.

A1c levels may be higher in children and adolescents with diabetes.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 17, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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