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Glycohemoglobin (HbA1c, A1c)

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Having severe blood loss or a blood transfusion in the last 3 months.
  • Having certain medical conditions, such as sickle cell anemia, hemolytic anemia, some types of thalassemia, and severe kidney disease.
  • Having your spleen taken out. This changes the normal life cycle of red blood cells and A1c levels.

What To Think About

  • If you have diabetes, your doctor may recommend that you have an A1c test every 3 to 6 months, depending on how well you are meeting your treatment goals.
  • Some people who develop diabetes have normal A1c levels early in the course of their disease.
  • A1c levels can be normal in some people who have untreated diabetes and certain medical conditions, such as sickle cell anemia, hemolytic anemia, severe kidney disease, or pregnancy.
  • A1c levels are not useful for finding low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
  • The A1c test does not replace the need for other regular blood glucose tests, including checking your blood sugar at home and a regular blood glucose test.

Citations

  1. American Diabetes Association (2012). Diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Care, 35(Suppl 1): S64–S71.

  2. American Diabetes Association (2013). Standards of medical care in diabetes—2013. Diabetes Care, 36(Suppl 1): S11–S66.

Other Works Consulted

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Alan C. Dalkin, MD - Endocrinology
Last Revised May 17, 2012
1 | 2 | 3

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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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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