The Importance of Checking Your A1C

Reviewed by Robert Ehrman, MD

Checking blood glucose daily is important. But don’t forget to check your A1Cs regularly, as well. The A1C test is a blood test that shows your average blood glucose results over the previous two to three months. It gives you the big picture of your blood glucose levels, including all of the ups and downs.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), your A1C should be 7 percent or less. If your A1C is higher, you and your health care provider may need to make changes in your diabetes care plan. Your provider may suggest changes to your medication regimen. You may also benefit from more education or a visit with a dietitian.

A1C TESTING—FROM OFFICE TO HOME

Since the invention of the A1C test about 20 years ago, it has been done only in a health care provider’s office or a lab, using a blood sample from the finger or arm. But now you can check your A1C yourself with an over-the-counter A1C test. These devices have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

HOW OFTEN TO TEST?

According to the ADA, you need to have your A1C checked when you first find out you have diabetes. After that, the ADA recommends getting an A1C test at least twice a year. Your A1C testing schedule may be different. For example, if you start a new diabetes medication or your blood glucose readings aren’t in your target range, your A1C needs to be checked every three months.

SHARE YOUR RESULTS

The A1C test does not replace daily glucose monitoring or visits with your health care provider. If you choose to use the at-home A1C tests, share your results with your health care provider, just as you would your daily blood glucose readings.

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