Blood Sugar Basics: What Is Blood Sugar
The term blood sugar refers to the sugar, or glucose, that is floating around in your bloodstream at any given time. Blood sugar, or blood glucose is the main source of sugar found in your blood, and comes from the food you eat. I
f you are monitoring your blood sugar, it is important to keep these numbers in check according to the American Diabetes Association .
Your blood sugar needs to be in the right range for you to be healthy. At least some glucose is necessary for your muscle, liver, and some other cells to use as fuel so they can function.
At least some sugar is necessary for your cells and organs to function properly. When our blood sugar levels get too low, it is called hypoglycemia. Without enough glucose as fuel, we lose the ability to function normally. This can make us feel weak, dizzy, and sweaty. And it can even lead to loss of consciousness.
On the other hand, blood sugar levels that get too high are also harmful, this is called hyperglycemia. Our blood sugar levels can get too high when we dont have enough insulin, or when our insulin isnt working well. This is the case for people who have prediabetes or diabetes. If it isnt treated, high blood sugar can lead to serious problems that can be deadly
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that keeping blood sugar levels in the target range is vital. It can help us prevent serious health concerns like heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease, for example.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Prediabetes
Diabetes is a measure of levels of sugar in your bloodstream. Physicians check this in two different ways:
1. A standard blood glucose test
This requires you to fast before a blood test, so your PCP or endocrinologist can check the level of glucose in your bloodstream at any given time. Ideally, fasting glucose levels should be 99 mg/dL or lower. If your fasting blood glucose levels are between 100 and 125mg/dL, it could be considered prediabetes, says Martha McKittrick RD. I like to have people get a second test done, to make sure its accurate, she says. A reading higher than 126 mg/dL indicates diabetes.
2. An A1C blood test
The test for A1C, or hbA1c, is a non-fasting blood test that measures the average amount of glucose in your blood stream over a period of three months and is measured in percentages. A healthy percentage is under 5.7%. A result between 5.7 and 6.4% suggests prediabetes. Anything higher than 6.5% indicates diabetes.
A person who is prediabetic may not always show symptoms. In fact, the majority dont. Oftentimes, an asymptomatic person will only get a prediabetes diagnosis if their general physician gives them a blood glucose test or checks their hbA1C readings and finds an atypical result.
Although most people dont show noticeable symptoms of prediabetes, if you are experiencing fatigue, excessive hunger, excessive thirst, and frequent urination, its better to be safe than sorry. Make an appointment to get your glucose levels checked ASAP.
Caution: Birth Control Pills
Types that have estrogen can affect the way your body handles insulin. Still, oral contraceptives are safe for women with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association suggests a combination pill with norgestimate and synthetic estrogen. The group also says birth control shots and implants are safe for women with the condition, though they can affect your blood sugar levels.
Also Check: Sugar Tablet Before Or After Food
Understanding Blood Sugar Target Ranges To Better Manage Your Diabetes
As a person with diabetes, you may or may not know what your target ranges should be for your blood sugars first thing in the morning, before meals, after meals, or at bedtime.
You may or may not understand what blood sugar ranges are for people without diabetes. You may or may not understand how your A1C correlates with your target ranges.
How do you get a clear picture of what is going on with your blood sugar, and how it could be affecting your health?
In this article, we will look at what recommended blood sugar target ranges are for people without diabetes.
We will look at target ranges for different times of the day for people with diabetes.
We will look at target ranges for Type 1 versus Type 2 diabetes. Is there a difference?
- Lifestyle habits and activity levels
We will see how these factors impact target ranges for your blood sugars when you have diabetes. We will learn that target ranges can be individualized based on the factors above. We will learn how target ranges help to predict the A1C levels.
We will see how if you are in your target range, you can be pretty sure that your A1C will also be in target. We will see how you can document your blood sugar patterns in a notebook or in an app, and manage your blood sugars to get them in your target ranges.
How To Diagnose Blood Sugar Level
Its possible to check your glucose level without a glucose meter by pricking your finger with a clean needle and putting the drop of blood on a strip that has been dipped in a special liquid. The strip will show your blood sugar level in both mg/dL and mmol/L.
A fasting blood glucose level is the amount of glucose in a persons blood after they have not eaten for about 8 hours. The level is usually around 100 milligrams per deciliter . Its possible to measure it using a glucose meter. 80-99 mg/dL is the right amount of sugar to be present in the blood.
Recommended Reading: Reduce Sugar Level Instantly
How Do Diabetes Test Strips Work
When blood is placed onto the test strip, it reacts with a chemical called glucose oxidase producing gluconic acid from the glucose in the blood. At the other end of the test strip, the meter transfers a current to the test strip. The test strip has electric terminals which allow the meter to measure the current between the terminals.
The current between the terminals changes depending on the level of gluconic acid that has been produced. The blood glucose meter then uses an algorithm to work out the blood glucose level based upon the difference in current.
Some blood glucose test strips allow the reapplication of more blood to the same test strip if needed during the test. The amount of blood required by a test strip can vary between manufacturers. Generally, between 0.5 l to 1 l of blood is required.
Some test strips, not so commonly used these days, do not require a meter. When blood is placed on the active part of the strip and then wiped off after a specified number of seconds, the reagent will change colour and the result can be obtained by matching the colour of against a colour chart on the side of the pot.
It is less accurate than using a blood glucose meter but the test strips can often be cheaper.
Other Severe Symptoms Of Hyperglycaemia Include:
- Nerve damage
- Kidney damage
- Blood vessel damage
Mild hyperglycaemia, depending on the cause, will not typically require medical treatment. Most people with this condition can lower their blood sugar levels sufficiently through dietary and lifestyle changes.
Those with type 1 diabetes will require the administration of insulin , while those with type 2 diabetes will often use a combination of injectable and oral medications , although some may also require insulin.
Recommended Reading: Sugar Increase Symptoms
Blood Sugar Levels In Children With Diabetes:
Blood Glucose Target Levels
Blood glucose is checked using fingerprick monitoring. Blood glucose targets are individual to each person, and you should agree your own target levels with your diabetes care team. The target blood glucose ranges in Table 1 below are indicated as a guide only.
Table 1: Target blood glucose ranges
*National Institute of Clinical Excellence 2015
** Diabetes UK Council of Health Care Professionals 2015
Read Also: How To Reduce Diabetes Instantly
What Is Considered A Normal Blood Sugar Level
The normal blood sugar level for a healthy, non-diabetic adult is determined by when and how blood sugar levels are tested.
The below information describes what normal blood sugar levels are prior to and after meals and what the recommended HbA1c and Haemoglobin A1c levels are for those with and without diabetes.
If you are diabetic, it is advisable to consult with your doctor in order for appropriate blood sugar level targets to be set based on your age, the severity of your condition, medications taken and overall health status.
What Are The Impacts Of Type 2 Diabetes
Having diabetes, especially if blood sugars are not kept in target ranges, increases your risk of:
In general, having type 2 diabetes can reduce lifespan by 15 years. However, with early intervention, all of these can be prevented or delayed.
Recommended Reading: How To Control High Sugar Level Immediately
Know Your Body Mass Index
Being overweight or obese puts you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. BMI is an easy way to estimate excess fat. Even a small change in body weight can reduce your risk of diabetes.
If your score is:
25.029.9 = Overweight/Pre-obese 30.0 and over = Obese
To calculate your BMI, you can use the BMI chart or the formulas at the bottom of this page or complete the Canadian diabetes risk questionnaire.
For Those Diagnosed With Diabetes You Can Reduce The Risk Of Complications:
- Monitor blood glucose levels with appropriate testing and an A1C blood test every three months to measure the average amount of sugar in your blood
- If you smoke, it’s never too late to quit
- Be physically active
- Examine feet and skin every day
- Have an eye exam at least once a year
- Have a kidney function test at least once a year
- Visit your healthcare provider regularly
Recommended Reading: How To Come Sugar Disease
High Blood Sugar Symptoms
Hyperglycemia is the medical term for high blood sugar. Hyperglycemia happens when the body doesnt have enough insulin or when it cant use insulin correctly. Many things can cause high blood glucose levels like Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, stress, illness, or the dawn phenomenon. If you have hyperglycemia or suspect you may have it, talking with a healthcare provider is always a good idea. A doctor can help you determine whats causing your high blood sugar levels and lower it to a healthy range.
Here are some of the most common symptoms that may indicate hyperglycemia:
- Vision loss
You should seek immediate medical attention if your blood sugar reaches 400 mg/dL or higher.
When patients experience any of these accompanied by elevated blood sugar levels, diabetic patients are advised to go directly to the ER to avoid diabetes-induced coma, says Vikram Tarugu, MD, a gastroenterologist and the CEO of Detox of South Florida. Patients who have elevated blood sugar may also present with frothy, ketone-like smelling breath.
Here are some lifestyle changes and medical treatments that can help treat hyperglycemia:
Diabetes By The Numbers
Staying healthy with type 2 diabetes is a numbers game. Get the scoop on the health indicators you should be measuring and why.
When you have type 2 diabetes, youve got to know your numbers. Its not just about blood sugar. To successfully manage diabetes, there are several measurements that you should take, or have taken, on a regular basis. Keeping track of the following numbers can help you live well with type 2 diabetes and lower your risk of complications.
Blood sugar levels. This is probably the type 2 diabetes measure youre most familiar with. Testing your blood sugar regularly allows you to see how certain foods, exercise, and other activities affect your blood sugar levels on a day-to-day basis. Many people with type 2 diabetes need to test once or twice a day to make sure blood sugar levels are in target range. If your blood sugar is very well controlled, you may only need to check a few times a week, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The American Diabetes Association recommends aiming for a blood sugar level between 70 to 130 mg/dl before meals and less than 180 mg/dl one to two hours after a meal. To keep your blood sugar within this range, follow a healthy, well-rounded diet and eat meals and snacks on a consistent schedule. If your blood sugar is not well controlled, talk to your doctor about adjusting your diabetes management plan.
Read Also: How To Reduce Sugar Level Immediately
Blood Sugar Levels After Eating
Blood sugar fluctuates throughout the day, but the biggest changes happen around mealtimes. Before eating, a healthy sugar level is between 3.9-5.5mmol/L. Around 1-2 hours after eating, expect blood sugar to rise to 5-10mmol/L.
If your blood sugar doesn’t stick within these ranges, the body may have stopped regulating blood sugar effectively which can lead to prediabetes and diabetes.
What Is Low Blood Sugar
Hypoglycaemia is a condition wherein blood sugar levels are too low. This condition affects a number of diabetic people when their bodies do not have enough glucose to use as energy. Hypoglycaemia is commonly the result of taking too much of the medication/s prescribed to treat diabetes, eating less than expected, exercising more than normal or skipping meals.
Some of the symptoms of hypoglycaemia include:
- A pale face
Recommended Reading: Can We Control Sugar Without Medicine
What About The Glycemic Index
Your daily carb total, spread steadily across the day, is one key to good blood sugar control. Some people also use the glycemic index , a rating of how individual foods raise blood sugar levels. Beans and whole-grain breads and cereals have a lower GI than white bread and regular pasta. Juice has a higher GI than whole fruit. Craving a high-GI food? Eat it along with a lower-GI choice to help control your levels.
David McGlynn / Photographer’s Choice David Malan / Photographer’s Choice RF Maximilian Stock Ltd. / Photographer’s Choice Peter Dazeley/ Photographer’s Choice Paul Poplis / FoodPix Jeffrey Hamilton / Lifesize, Thinkstock Nick Daly / The Image Bank Ailbhe O’Donnell / Flickr Open Ross M Horowitz / Stone John Slater / The Image Bank Yo Thinkstock
What Should I Do If My Blood Sugar Gets Too High
High blood sugar is also called hyperglycemia . It means that your blood sugar level is higher than your target level or over 180. Having high blood sugar levels over time can lead to long-term, serious health problems.
If you feel very tired, thirsty, have blurry vision, or need to pee more often, your blood sugar may be high.
Check your blood sugar and see if it is above your target level or over 180. If it is too high, one way to lower it is to drink a large glass of water and exercise by taking a brisk walk. Call your health care team if your blood sugar is high more than 3 times in 2 weeks and you dont know why.
Read Also: How To Control Pp Sugar
Normal And Diabetic Blood Sugar Ranges
For the majority of healthy individuals, normal blood sugar levels are as follows:
- Between 4.0 to 5.4 mmol/L when fasting
- Up to 7.8 mmol/L 2 hours after eating
For people with diabetes, blood sugar level targets are as follows:
- Before meals : 4 to 7 mmol/L for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes
- After meals : under 9 mmol/L for people with type 1 diabetes and under 8.5mmol/L for people with type 2 diabetes
What You Can Drink With Meals
Add a low-calorie, low-sugar drink or choose water. Proper hydration is essential to helping your body remove excess sugar.
Some drinks that are good for keeping your blood sugar level low include:
- Unsweetened tea
- Unsweetened coffee
- Sparkling water or club soda
- Flavored water or sparkling water without added sugar
- Diet soda or other diet drinks
Also Check: When To Take Sugar Tablet