A1C is a blood test used to measure your average blood sugar over the past 3 months. It’s commonly used to diagnose diabetes or prediabetes and is the main test used for managing diabetes. High A1C levels are linked to complications with diabetes such as heart disease and nerve damage. It’s very important to know your A1C and reach or maintain A1C goals if you have diabetes. When sugar enters the bloodstream, it attaches to proteins called hemoglobin. It is normal to have some sugar attached to hemoglobin, however, the more sugar in the bloodstream, the higher the percentage of sugar-coated hemoglobin.
If you are over 45 years of age, you should get an A1C test. But you should also get tested if you are under 45 and have one of the following risk factors: are overweight, have a family history of diabetes, have prediabetes, are not physically active or have ever had gestational diabetes. Once your baseline A1C is complete, your physician will recommend an appropriate frequency for subsequent A1C testing.
Normal A1C levels are below 5.7%. A test result between 5.7% – 6.4% indicates prediabetes and a level higher than 6.5% indicates diabetes. If you are in the prediabetes range, the higher your A1C score, the more likely you are to develop diabetes. Several factors can falsely raise or lower your A1C. These include liver disease, severe anemia, pregnancy, blood transfusions, some medications, and certain ethnic backgrounds. Be sure to mention these to your physician so your test can be scored correctly.
The good news for the 30 million people in the United States living with diabetes is that studies have suggested that acupuncture can help. It can help regulate overall blood glucose management which could result in the need for less frequent insulin injections. Peripheral neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes that causes pain, tingling, numbness and burning in fingers and toes. Acupuncture can help relieve these symptoms and even improve nerve function. Acupuncture is also critical in relieving stress. Managing stress is important for individuals with diabetes because they are twice as likely to have high blood pressure. Acupuncture treatments create feelings of relaxation, which can reduce stress and it also dilates the blood vessels and can help lower blood pressure.
Acupuncture can be considered a safe and effective treatment for diabetes, especially when combined with other treatments such as medication, healthy diet and regular exercise.