C peptide levels – key to understanding your diabetic body
Remember the time you got diagnosed with diabetes and thrown weird terms like c peptide levels;
Remember the feeling when you heard that it’s gonna stay you for life;
Remember how did you react when you heard about the complications;
When I got diagnosed I was fearful, anxious, frustrated and was blaming myself for all this.
And the most annoying part is that you are thrown with such a heavy load of information that only makes you miserable.
Never ending counseling, countless prickings, frequent blood test was too much to handle. When i got diagnosed, i had pretty bad time; you can read my story here
With time, you accept it and take it as a part of your life.
Ha! As if we had any choice.But it’s wise to gain superficial knowledge about the condition, it gets a lot easier to manage when you know with whom you are dealing with.
During your diagnosis, you may have come across the term C peptide.
You may have wondered what c peptide levels are?
What is the relationship between C peptide levels and diabetes?
How much is c peptide level good or bad?
How to test these levels?
These medical terms are so heavy and complicated, it makes people run away from them.
My life is already miserable and I don’t want to spoil it further by understanding these complicated terms; most the patients say.
But the patients need to understand that for solving any problem, you should understand the problem; same goes with diabetes.
So what is C Peptide?
C Peptides are proteins which get released by pancreas at the same time insulin is released.
They get released in an equal amount as the insulin as both were linked together when first made inside the pancreas.
Why C peptide level test done?
The amount of C Peptide levels in our body helps to determine the amount of insulin our pancreas is making.
As both C Peptide and insulin get released in equal amount and in same time, checking the level of C peptide helps to understand our insulin production
Ok, but why can’t we measure insulin directly. why go another way around?
Because insulin starts working and gets flushed out within 5 minutes of production.
But it takes half an hour for C Peptide to flush out of our blood stream. So it’s more convenient to measure the c peptide levels and extrapolate it to find insulin detail
What exactly C peptide levels test helps us to find out?
It can help doctors to get into following conclusions:
1. You have diabetes or not
2. To find if it is Type 1 or Type 2
3. Find the rate at which Beta cells are decaying
4. Check the cause of low blood sugar
5. Check whether pancreatic tumor has been eliminated or not
How is the C-Peptide levels test done?
Usually, in C-Peptide test, the doctor will take your fasting blood samples. So you would not be eating anything for 8 to 12 hours and would also not take any medication for that period as it could affect the C-Peptide levels
[ctt template=”2″ link=”yQddz” via=”yes” ]So what would be the normal numbers?[/ctt]
It’s important to know that different labs have different normal ranges. There is the difference in testing procedures and methodology from lab to lab.
In simple words, the same blood sample may give different C-Peptide numbers if you test it from other lab and each lab has different normal reference ranges.
So it’s wise to do all your C-peptide test from one lab only for better reference. But still I can share your generalized number for C peptide levels:
0.51 to 2.72 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL)
0.17-0.90 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L)
I have got my C Peptide level report. what to analyze from it?
The C-peptide report is analyzed with your blood sugar report by your doctor. With C peptide report you can derive the following idea:
1. High Fasting Blood Sugar and low C Peptide level
- In this condition, there are more chances that you have type 1 diabetes. Low C peptide level shows that you are producing a very low amount of insulin to absorb the glucose and that results in high fasting sugar level. And your B cells of the pancreas have been destroyed by the local antibodies.
- In few cases, it may be a condition of type 2 diabetes. Some people do not know for years that they have type 2 diabetes. So the high blood sugar over these long period destroys the existing Beta cells of the pancreas. Finally insulin level gets lower and lower, which shows with the lowered C Peptide levels.
2. High Fasting Blood Sugar and High C Peptide Level
High C peptide level shows that insulin is been produced by the body in sufficient amounts.
But high fasting blood sugar indicates that the insulin produced is not being used by our body. This condition is called insulin resistance.
You can reverse type 2 diabetes by changing your lifestyle and keeping diet control. Regular exercise and regular tracking of your activity help a lot. If you have a certain plan at the starting of a day, there is a good chance that you can abide by the routine.
However, failing to keep a stable blood sugar may lead to Beta cells destruction and fall in C peptide level.
3. Rate of Pancreatic Beta cells destruction
There is a form of diabetes called LADA, i.e Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults.
In LADA, the rate of decay of beta cells is slow, so the person would be making a good amount of insulin at the time of diagnosis. Hence the person can survive with medication initially.
But with time the beta cell would get destroyed and the person would need insulin.
Let’s understand the concept through a hypothetical conversation between Ram (the patient) and the Doctor. This will make us understand the concept better
Doctor: Hello Ram, I have got your reports and I think I have found out why you were having an issue with your body.
Doctor: Ram, your fasting blood sugar is quite high; You have diabetes. That’s why you were losing weight.
But you don’t have to worry, you have to make certain changes in your lifestyle and you will be fine.
Ram: Oh! I have heard about diabetes before. Do I need to take daily injection in my case
Doctor: Ram, you are diagnosed with LADA. Currently, you are making sufficient amount of insulin, so you can be fine with oral medication.
But with time your pancreas cells will decay. So after some time you may need to inject the insulin
Ram: ok, how long would that be?
Doctor: your current C Peptide level 0.4 ng/ml. But with time the number will deteriorate.
Visit me after 2 months, I will do the test again to check the C peptide levels.
Doctor: how you have been in these 2 months
Ram: Good, I have controlled my diet and do regular pricks to test my sugar level
Doctor: good, let me take your blood sample to check your latest C-Peptide level
you can buy good quality
Doctor: I have got your report. Your C peptide level has reduced to .35 ng/ml.
With this rate of reduction, you may need to inject insulin within next six months
Ram: ok, thank you, doctor. I will report to you if I face any issues.
Doctor: Sure, but try to keep your blood sugar within the recommended limit other wise you will develop complications later.
PP (post 1 hour): below 140 mg/dl
PP (post 2 hour): below 120 mg/dl
First target in this range then with time you can improve your number further.
The above hypothetical conversation should give you an idea about how c peptide levels are used to interpret different aspects of diabetes.
What factors can affect my C Peptide levels test?
Following factors may influence the test and give you wrong number, so be mindful about it
1. Eating before fasting test
C peptide levels test is usually taken with your fasting blood and the test is usually administered early morning.
Reason being you would be the empty stomach, whenever you performed your test in the morning.
But eating something in mid of the night will not fulfill the purpose and you will be not in fasting mode.
Hence the report would be faulty
2. Medications and Insulin
Doctor will ask you to keep yourself off from certain medications that can influence the results
C Peptide gets removed by kidney after a certain period of time. Having kidney failure or any other issues may not give you the perfect test results
I would again like to say that the article is about your understanding and in no way replaces doctor’s consultation. Before diagnosis, doctors take note of your weight, age, family history and another parameter to make a final verdict.