Getting an A1C test helps to find out your blood sugar levels and to know if you are at risk of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
It is a simple blood test and is also known as hemoglobin A1C or HbA1c test. Generally, it helps to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes and is the most popular test that your health care team suggests you manage diabetes.
The A1C test measures the percentage of hemoglobin present in your red blood cells and is coated with sugar.
How does the A1C test work for diabetes patients?
The hemoglobin A1C test measures a person’s average blood glucose level and physicians normally use it to diagnose type 2 diabetes.
It detects the amount of sugar or glucose in the patient’s blood and the result will be the average view of blood sugar levels over an extended time, usually of 2 to 3 months.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the A1C test is commonly used by doctors to diagnose type 2 diabetes in the initial stages, but not type 1.
A1C test is unlike any other sugar test and you don’t need to fast before taking it. The health care professional collects your blood and sends it to the laboratory for further assessment.
The result of the A1C test will be in the percentage of the amount of hemoglobin that glucose has bound in the person’s blood.
If the results are below 5.7%, then diabetes is normal, if it is between 5.7% and 6.4%, then the patient is suffering from prediabetes. If the result is above 6.5%, then the patient is diabetic.
Accuracy of the A1C test
If the results of your A1C test is above 6.5%, then it confirms that you have diabetes. But some circumstances make the result of the A1C test inaccurate.
The most important thing about the A1C test is that it provides the average result of blood glucose for 2-3 months.
So to get an accurate result, you don’t need to fast before taking the test. But certain health issues or conditions make the test result inaccurate.
The following health conditions give an inaccurate A1C test result.
✔ Anemia: Untreated anemias that are caused by a lack of iron, vitamins, or folate may raise the average result that you get through the A1C test.
✔ Chronic kidney disease: Kidney diseases or kidney failures are commonly seen in people with high diabetes. This may lead you to an anemic condition which makes false A1C test result.
✔ Extremely high triglycerides: High amount of triglycerides found in your blood makes your A1C test result higher.
Apart from these factors, when the test is repeated more than one time per day, the result can be slightly higher or lower than the previous result.
So its recommended to conduct A1C test once in 2-3 months.
How to prepare for the A1C test for diabetes?
The A1C test determines the amount of hemoglobin with attached glucose and is reported as a percentage.
If the amount of glucose is higher in your bloodstream, then more glucose will attach to the hemoglobin.
This test alone or in combination with other diabetes tests will be conducted or prescribed by the health professionals to diagnose type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.
But the AIC test does not require any preparation like fasting that is needed for other sugar tests. It will provide accurate results even if you have didn’t took fast before drawing blood.
But if you have got a high result on the A1C test and don’t have any symptoms of diabetes, then you should repeat the A1C test on a different day or take any other glucose test to confirm diabetes.
A1C test pricing
The hemoglobin A1C test is done to check progress in diabetic patients who are under treatment or to diagnose prediabetes.
The normal blood sugar test provides the current level of glucose in the blood and it requires fasting before drawing blood from your body.
But A1C test is entirely different from that. It determines the average result of glucose which is bound to hemoglobin for the past 3 months.
This type of hemoglobin is also known as glycated hemoglobin. The A1C test pricing is different in different testing centers. Normally the cost of a Hemoglobin A1C test ranges from $10 to $55.
How to do A1C testing from home?
A1C home testing kit helps you check your blood sugar at home. It is similar to the glucometer that you use to check your blood sugar at home.
This helps people to know how well their condition has been controlled over the previous two to three months.
A1C testing from home provides a reliable average blood sugar result every few months and determines glucose levels for the lifespan.
Because daily glucose testing using a glucometer measures the blood sugar level of the testing spot and the A1C testing provides average results of a few months.
So it is needed to effectively manage diabetes. A home test kit of A1C is required if:
✔ You want to get a quick read of your average blood sugar levels
✔ Your health professional has prescribed that you should get your A1C tested every three months
✔ Your desire to keep the glucose level under control and want to monitor your A1C level regularly
✔ You have symptoms of diabetes
✔ Your family shows a history of diabetes
✔ You are more comfortable in testing from home rather than from the lab and choose to self-monitor.
A1C home testing kit is useful. But you should consult your healthcare professional if the results you got through A1C home testing are higher.
Also, remember that A1C tests should only be done every two to three months and the result shows the glucose levels for that time period.
If you want to monitor your glucose level more frequently, then use a glucometer. Follow the instructions provided within the A1C home testing kit carefully.
The whole kit includes an A1C analyzer, lancet, blood collector, shaker tube, test cartridge, and testing instructions from the manufacturer.
You can take test at any convenient time for you and need not requires fasting before drawing blood. The test kit will provide the result within 5 minutes.
Here are some guidelines that you should follow while doing A1C testing at home.
✔ Before conducting the test, wash your hands with soap and water and dry them well
✔ Clean your hands with sanitizers or alcohol
✔ Press the lancet into the tip of your finger and squeeze out a small drop of blood.
✔ Collect the blood into a blood collector and ensure that the amount of blood collected fills the manufacturer’s instructions.
✔ Shake the shaker 6 to 8 times by inserting the blood collector into it. This helps in mixing the blood with the testing solution present in the shaker.
✔ Press the shaker into the analyzer by removing its base
✔ Wait for 5 minutes to get your results
Where to buy A1C home testing kit?
A1C home testing kit is now available to purchase from online stores like Amazon or from any offline pharmacies and other retailers.
While purchasing an A1C home testing kit, buy the FDA-approved home A1C test kits that are available at pharmacies.
It is available as a whole package which includes accessories for tests like replacement strips, and all other parts.
There are several brands for A1C testing kits like Polymer Technology systems, CVS at home A1C test kits, ReliOn fast A1C tests, etc.
Choose the most reputable brand and make sure that the packaging is sealed before the first use.
Always keep in mind that the home A1C testings are not approved in order to diagnose diabetes and it is commonly recommended to monitor prediabetes or diabetes if you have diagnosed diabetes once from a healthcare professional.