What Is Blood Sugar
Blood sugar, or glucose, is your bodys main energy source. We get glucose from the food we eat, and our blood carries it around to all the cells in the body to give them energy to function. Glucose mainly comes from the carbohydrates we eat, though our bodies can convert protein and fat into sugar too if needed.
Glucose from protein is typically stored in the liver and doesnt enter the bloodstream, so eating protein-rich foods wont raise your blood sugar too much. Fats slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, which causes a delayed rise in blood sugar. A high blood sugar can be an issue because it usually leads to sugar crashes, which are no fun symptoms include fatigue, headaches and the jitters. So, eat meals balanced with protein, fat and carbs to avoid this.
Blood sugar is closely related to insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps your body use glucose thats in the carbohydrates you eat. Insulin helps regulate your blood sugar levels if you eat more sugar than you need in the moment, the hormone helps store the glucose in your liver until its needed for energy.
You probably also know about blood sugar in the context of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which people are unable to make insulin, so they need to inject the hormone in order to keep their blood sugar levels stable. People with Type 2 diabetes, which usually occurs later in life, either dont secrete insulin or are resistant to it.
You Can’t Get A Good Night’s Rest
Eating a cookie or cupcake with loads of added sugar too close to bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep, at least in the short-term. “It will give you a boost of energy by spiking your blood sugar, which always makes going to bed harder when you’re trying to wind down,” says Zeitlin. It might have the opposite effect shortly thereafter because sugar triggers the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which makes you feel relaxed and even sleepy, Ansel adds. But even if it is easier to nod off, the sleep you get probably won’t be as satisfying. “You might not wake up feeling as good, because your blood sugar dips during the night,” says Ansel.
A good rule of thumb, says Zeitlin: Stop eating entirelyâespecially sugary foodsâtwo hours before bedtime, so you don’t get indigestion and sugar has time to make its way through your systemâand you can relax and get into sleep mode.
High Sugar Intake Depletes Your Bones
There are many mechanisms by which sugar negatively impacts bone health. First and foremost, sugar promotes the formation of Advanced Glycation End-products, or AGEs. These byproducts of the Maillard reaction damage collagen, the primary substance that makes up bone.
Consuming large amounts of sugar and foods with a high glycemic index also cause an increase in the levels of cortisol in the blood. Studies have confirmed that excess cortisol is detrimental to bone health.
Finally, sugar has been shown to cause bone-building nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, and copper, to leech from your bones.
Don’t Miss: What Can I Do When My Blood Sugar Is High
Subtle Signs You’re Eating Too Much Sugar
You’ve finally kicked the ice-cream-after-dinner habit. There’s no way you’re eating too much sugar, right? Not so fast. While nixing obvious sugar bombs like candy and cake is a huge step toward a healthier diet, there are lots of other sneaky foods where sugar hides. That includes everything from high fructose corn syrup found in salad dressings to fruit juice added to “all-natural” protein bars.
The average American consumes 17 teaspoons of sugar per day, which is the equivalent of 270 calories, according to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. And that’s a major problem because added sugars contribute extra calories to your diet and have no essential nutrients to help your body function at its best.
Some preliminary research has suggested that a high-sugar diet raises your blood sugar, increasing free radicals and compounds that boost inflammation. Over time, too much sugar ups your risk of obesity, increasing your risk of diabetes, and may even on its own increase your risk of conditions like certain cancers and chronic illnesses like heart disease, says Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, CDN.
Before we get to the subtle signs to look out for that you’re consuming too much sugar, let’s delve into what sugar exactly is and how it affects your body.
Being Extra Thirsty And Having To Urinate More Than Usual
This is a common but not-so-obvious sign of blood sugar that is too high: feeling really thirsty and needing to drink more than usual. Excessive urination, known as polyuria, occurs when glucose builds up in your blood, and your kidneys begin working harder to get rid of the extra glucose, says Zanini. If your kidneys cant keep up and adjust blood sugar so that it returns to a normal level, the excess sugar is flushed out of your body through urine, she adds. You may become dehydrated and get dizzy.
Don’t Miss: What Cereal Has Low Sugar
How Do I Check For Ketones
There are two ways to check for ketones:
- Step 7
Ketone strip storage
- Keep ketone strips at room temperature between 59° and 86° F. Keep them out of direct sunlight.
- Step 8 After opening the first time, write the date on the bottle.
- Always put the lid back on right away after opening.
- Do not keep them in the bathroom because the moisture could ruin the strips.
- Throw the ketone strips away 6 months after first opening if they are not gone.
- Do not use them after the expiration date. Call your pharmacy for a refill.
Steps to check for blood ketones:
How Do I Measure Blood Sugar
If you have diabetes, you probably already keep a watchful eye on your blood sugar through the use of a continuous glucose monitor or a blood sugar meter . Blood sugar measurement is also typically included in routine lab work for people without diabetes — your physician will usually order a glycated hemoglobin test, which measures your average blood sugar over the past two to three months.
Say your A1C test comes back with no sign of diabetes — constantly measuring your blood sugar can still be helpful. For instance, some people experiment with using a CGM to see how their body responds to different types of food. However, it’s good to note that this is a fairly cost-intensive way of figuring out your nutrition, and writing down a food diary that includes how you felt after each meal will also help you figure out what to eat.
Check out these blood sugar monitors if you’re looking for recommendations on how to keep track of your levels at home.
Read Also: Is Extra Spearmint Gum Sugar Free
When To See A Healthcare Professional
Hyperglycemia can happen suddenly after injury or illness. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms call 911 or have someone else call for you:
- Trouble breathing or talking
- Weakness or confusion
The aforementioned signs and symptoms can be a signal of diabetic ketoacidosis or worse, and if left untreated can be life-threatening. Fortunately, immediate recognition and treatment of these symptoms can lead to a rapid amelioration of your high blood sugar levels.
Although more research needs to be done to elucidate the long-term impacts of hyperglycemia on nondiabetic patientsespecially after acute injuryone thing is clear: living a healthy lifestyle that includes eating a balanced diet and routine exercise is the best way to avoid hyperglycemia and acute complications.
To prevent hyperglycemia:
Problems Caused By High Blood Sugar
It’s not usually a serious problem if your blood sugar is sometimes slightly high for a short time.
But high blood sugar can cause serious problems if it stays high for a long time or gets to a very high level.
It can lead to:
- life-threatening conditions such as diabetic ketoacidosis
If you have high blood sugar, your doctor or care team may ask you to test your blood or pee to check for ketones. A high level of ketones is a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis.
You May Like: Does High Blood Sugar Cause High Blood Pressure
High Blood Sugar Levels
If you have diabetes, you can find out if your blood sugar level is high by having a blood sugar test.
You may have regular tests by your care team or GP surgery, or you may have tests you can do at home.
|Type of test||High level|
|Test done by a health professional to check your blood sugar level over the last 2 or 3 months||48 mmol/mol or over|
|Test done by a health professional after not eating for a few hours||Over 7 mmol/L|
|Home test done after waking up or before eating||Over 7 mmol/L|
|Home test done at any other time||Over 11 mmol/L|
When To Seek Medical Care For High Blood Sugar
If hyperglycemia persists for at least two or three days, or if ketones appear in the urine, call a doctor.
Generally, people with diabetes should test their blood sugar levels at least four times a day: before meals and at bedtime . The urine should be checked for ketones any time the blood sugar level is over 250 mg/dL.
When blood sugar stays high despite following a diabetic diet and plan of care, call the nurse, diabetes health educator, or physician for adjustments in the diet.
If blood sugars are high because of illness, check for ketones and contact a health professional.
Seek immediate medical care for these conditions:
- Blood sugar levels that stay above 160 mg/dL for longer than a week
- Glucose readings higher than 300 mg/dL
- The presence of ketones in the urine
Ketoacidosis or diabetic coma is a medical emergency. Call 911 for emergency transport to a hospital or similar emergency center.
Also Check: How Much Sugar Does Yogurt Have
Youre Getting Yeast Infections More Often Than Usual
Hyperglycemia may lead you to get more frequent genital yeast infections. The culprit is often a type of yeast known as Candida albicans, per the ADA. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in females the symptoms can include: vaginal itching, redness or soreness pain during sexual intercourse pain or discomfort during urination and thick, abnormal vaginal discharge. While yeast infections are common in people who dont have diabetes, having more glucose in your blood puts you at higher risk of getting them. The yeast feeds off the glucose, and if your blood sugar is high theres more glucose in the urinary tract, explains Bandukwala. Uncircumcised men with hyperglycemia are also at risk, he says.
Were also seeing this happen a little more now with patients who take SGLT-2 inhibitors, which force the body to expel more glucose through the urine, the endocrinologist adds. The FDA has added a warning to the prescribing information for SGLT-2 inhibitors about a far more rare and potentially fatal genital condition, known as necrotizing fasciitis of the perineum, or Fourniers gangrene .
What Is The Prognosis For Glycosuria
Your outlook with glycosuria depends on what may be causing it. If there are no other conditions present, symptoms or complications will be rare.
If a condition is causing high levels of glucose in your urine, you will need to be monitored by your healthcare provider. Your doctor will create a treatment plan that works best for your needs. Getting treated as soon as possible may help reduce the chance of complications if your condition progresses.
Keep in mind that some conditions can trigger serious complications. For example, conditions associated with high blood sugar levels can lead to complications like:
You May Like: Does Sugar Cause Stomach Bloating
Why Do These Symptoms Matter For Diabetics
These symptoms are essential for diabetics to understand, because they may encounter high or low blood sugar levels from time to time.
A cold or virus can cause sudden high blood sugar levels, and understand the symptoms means knowing how to deal with hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.
People with diabetes who can recognise the symptoms can avoid levels that lead to medical emergencies such as diabetic ketoacidosis
How Do You Treat Hypoglycemia
Low blood sugar levels happen when theres too little glucose left in the bloodstream to continue supplying fuel to your organs, muscles, and tissues. It most often occurs when you dont eat enough food, especially carb-containing foods, given your blood-sugar-lowering medications and physical activity levels, ONeill says. Levels can decrease gradually or suddenly.
When the amount of glucose in the bloodstream drops to too-low levels, the body reacts by releasing epinephrine, also called adrenaline or the fight or flight hormone. Epinephrine revs your heart rate and can cause sweating, shaking, anxiety, and irritability. If not enough glucose is able to reach the brain, the result may be difficulty concentrating, confused thinking, and slurred speech. In extreme cases, a lack of glucose within the brain can lead to seizures, coma, and even death, she says.
People with low glucose levels can use the ADAs 15-15 Rule, which advises people consume 15 g of carbs, wait 15 minutes, and check their levels again. If the number is still low, repeat until reaching at least 70 mg/dL.
You can find 15 g of carbs in:
- 1 slice of bread
- 1 small piece of fresh fruit
- cup of yogurt
- Three to four hard candies
- Glucose tablets as indicated on the label
- Glucose gel as indicated on the label
Once your glucose levels are back to normal, the ADA suggests going ahead and eating your next scheduled meal or snack, which will help prevent levels from dropping again.
You May Like: Which Milk Has The Least Sugar
You’re Noticing Skin Tags And Other Skin Issues
Skin tags and other skin issues can be a sign that something is wrong with your blood glucose levels. People with diabetes frequently have to deal with these types of things because high glucose levels affect the way cells produce collagen, making it difficult for the body to heal itself properly after an injury or wound occurs.
In addition, high glucose levels can cause blood vessels to become damaged, which leads to skin issues such as spider veins and rosacea. It’s important that you make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin A in your meal plan, so the body has what it needs to keep itself strong and healthy.
What Are The Signs Of High And Low Blood Sugar
The symptoms vary depending on whether you have hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. Find out how to spot the warning signs and stabilize your glucose.
One of the challenges of managing diabetes is maintaining consistent blood sugar levels. Even with diligence, some situations can cause high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, while others can bring on low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia.
After all, its not just carbohydrate intake that influences the amount of glucose coursing through your bloodstream when you have type 2 diabetes. Emotional stress and certain medications can increase your blood sugar levels, and a boost in activity can cause it to drop, says Megan ONeill, CDCES, a medical science liaison for diabetes care at Abbott healthcare company in Monterey, California. Sometimes people experience a spike in their blood sugar early in the morning due to the dawn effect, a temporary surge of hormones that occurs as the body prepares to wake, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
For people with diabetes, managing blood glucose levels is especially important, ONeill says. Levels that are too low or high can result in complications that affect your kidneys, heart, and vision, reduce your quality of life, require expensive interventions, or even be fatal.
- Between 80 and 130 milligrams per deciliter before meals
- Less than 180 mg/dL two hours after meals
Recommended Reading: What Does It Mean When You Have Low Blood Sugar
How To Check Blood Sugar Without A Meter
Diabetes is a chronic condition where the body either doesnt make enough insulin or doesnt use insulin properly or both. This can lead to a higher than normal blood sugar level.
Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to complications, such as:
- heart disease
- nerve damage
For these reasons, its important to monitor your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
Prior to using meters, people with diabetes would monitor their blood sugar by testing their urine. This method, however, wasnt as accurate, nor did it provide real-time results.
If you self-test your blood sugar several times a day using a glucometer, or meter, it requires that you prick your finger to draw blood to test. Due to the discomfort of this method, you might look for a way to monitor your level without this tool.
If finger pricks are very bothersome for you, dont worry theres hope. Advances in blood sugar monitoring technology could mean no more finger pricks in the future.
If you have diabetes, there are several portable devices you can use to check your blood sugar level and not all of them require a finger prick.