Random Glucose Tests: Testing Stability

Written by Brett Huffman | Published on August 8, 2014
Medically Reviewed by Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDE on August 8, 2014

Random Glucose Testing: Why It’s Important

A random glucose test is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a random blood test to check glucose levels. It’s a powerful tool for diabetics. Also called casual testing, it can help assess how well the disease is being managed.

Health professionals recommend that you use the post-meal glucose level as the standard for random glucose testing. Acceptable values are around 70-125 mg/dL (3.9-6.9 mmol/L).

Learn about blood glucose testing in pairs and how can it help manage type 2 »

How Does Random Testing Help With Disease Management?

In healthy adults, glucose levels are moderated within the bloodstream. Levels are balanced through the actions of insulin and the body’s use of sugars. If a healthy adult without diabetes received random glucose tests throughout the day, their glucose levels would remain relatively stable. This would be true even if they:

  • varied their diet
  • experienced stress
  • ate at different times of the day

In people with diabetes and prediabetes, glucose levels can vary widely over the course of the day. This is particularly true if the disease is not well managed. In these people, random test results will vary widely. Tests may also be consistently very high.

A random test is one performed outside your normal testing schedule. Random testing is an important part of diabetes management. If random glucose levels are acceptable, your strategy is probably working. Wide swings in your levels suggest you need to change your management plan.

Remember, high sugar levels are what cause symptoms in diabetics. Symptoms include:

  • weight loss
  • dehydration
  • increased urination
  • slow healing
  • blurry vision

Why glucose meters can't tell us our blood sugar levels »

Other Types of Glucose Testing

Random glucose testing isn’t a substitute for other types of glucose tests. You should also perform fasting tests and post-meal tests as suggested by your doctor.

A fasting blood glucose test is usually performed upon waking, before you eat. Post-meal blood glucose tests measure glucose levels around two hours after eating. Different testing times will yield different results. These are affected by:

  • the food you’ve eaten
  • stress
  • medicines you’re taking
  • any caffeine you’ve consumed

It’s important to test every day. This helps you get a sense of your personal levels. Testing is the best way to learn how your sugar is affected by your lifestyle.  

Exercise and Glucose Testing

Exercise can play a role in your random glucose test results. Generally, exercise will lower glucose levels. It may even require you to adjust your insulin regimen, if you’re taking shots every day. However, don’t let that discourage you from exercising. Exercise is one of the best ways you can help control diabetes. Most people with diabetes gain benefits from even moderate exercise.

Exercise increases your body’s ability to use insulin. It also burns extra glucose in your bloodstream. In the long term, exercise will lead to more stable random glucose test results.

The Importance of Listening to Your Body

If you have diabetes, paying close attention to your symptoms is very important. Many people with diabetes dread the horrible feelings of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. They know they are signs that something has gone wrong. However, these symptoms are a powerful ally in diabetes management. They signal trouble before it gets out of control. When you experience a symptom that may be related to poor glucose levels, it’s a good time to test.

Listen to your body. Being alert for symptoms can cue you to test your glucose levels and quickly overcome any rapid changes. Identifying symptoms can also help you learn to stabilize your disease.

If you manage your diabetes with oral medication, changes in symptoms can warn you that your diabetes may be getting worse. They can be a sign you need more direct management.

Using Test Results as a Tool for Change

Your blood glucose levels do not reflect your value as a person. They are just a measure of disease activity. Stressing over your glucose readings is counterproductive. It will only hurt your ability to successfully manage your diabetes.

Diabetes is a very serious condition. However, you can control it. The key is healthy behavior changes combined with good glucose monitoring. If you find that your glucose levels just aren’t getting under control, it’s time to speak with your doctor. You may need to make changes in your management program.

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