High Blood Sugar: Hidden Dangers
In the short term, high blood sugar levels can zap your energy, cause excessive thirst and urination, and blur your vision. High blood sugar levels can also lead to dehydration, dry and itchy skin, and infections. Minimizing the time spent above your target blood sugar range can help you feel your best and will help prevent complications and injury to your body.
Over time, high blood sugar affects many parts of the body. Chronic high blood sugar can start to cause noticeable changes, including:
- Memory problems
- Vision problems like blurriness, diabetic retinopathy, and blindness
- Gum disease that leads to tooth loss, which can make eating healthy foods difficult due to problems chewing
- Heart attack and stroke due to increased plaque build-up in the vessels and other vascular issues
- Kidney disease, which can lead to the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant
- Nerve damage that can cause decreased sensation in the feet and legs which increases the risk for wounds to turn into serious infections and even amputation
Nerve damage from high blood sugar can also cause a variety of symptoms including:
- Pain and tingling in the feet and hands
- Difficulty emptying your bladder
- Problems during the digestion process after eating, which can cause food to sit in the stomach too long and lead to nausea, vomiting, and erratic blood sugar levels
Checking your blood sugar frequently and taking immediate action when it is above range can reduce your risk of complications.
Do You Get Too Little Exercise
Regular aerobic exercise can lower your blood sugar and help your body respond to insulin better. And dont forget about strength training. Think about muscle tissue like a sponge, Moreno says. It absorbs glucose.
To fit more activity into your day:
- Take a walk, especially 15 minutes after a meal.
- Ride a bike.
- Do bodyweight exercises.
- Lift weights.
No matter how you choose to get your heart pumping, do it for at least 20-30 minutes a day. Its OK to break up your activity into several 5- to 10-minute blocks if thats all the time you have.
Include at least 2 days of strength training each week. The more muscle you build, the more energy you burn, the less sugar is available” in your blood, Morton says.
Do You Think Some Carbs Don’t Count
Your body breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars, also called glucose. It doesn’t matter where these carbs came from. You need to look at total grams of carbs in your food, not just the sugar content.
Pasta, rice, tortillas, they have a lot of glucose, Moreno says. They will increase your sugar levels, sometimes even more than candy.
Natural sugars also count. Its true that you should swap cookies for fruits. But that doesnt mean you can have loads of them, Saeed says. Moderation is key.
Gail Nunlee-Bland, MD, chief of endocrinology at Howard University Hospital, recommends eating no more than two servings of fruit a day. And try to add more non-starchy vegetables to your meals. The green leafy ones are better, she says.
Theres a handy measurement to give you a better idea of which foods, including fruits and veggies, are best for your diabetes. Its called the glycemic index . The ratings tell you how likely a food is to boost your blood sugar. For example, berries are lower on the GI scale — and lower in natural sugars — than bananas, raisins, or grapes, Saeed says.
Labels on most packaged foods in the U.S. don’t list glycemic index ratings. But you can easily find GI calculators online.
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What Are Blood Sugar Targets
A blood sugar target is the range you try to reach as much as possible. These are typical targets:
- Before a meal: 80 to 130 mg/dL.
- Two hours after the start of a meal: Less than 180 mg/dL.
Your blood sugar targets may be different depending on your age, any additional health problems you have, and other factors. Be sure to talk to your health care team about which targets are best for you.
Still Frustrated With Your Blood Sugar And A1c Results
Your blood sugars and your insulin or medication needs never stay in one place. If you gain weight or lose weight, your insulin and medication needs will change. If you become more active or less active, your needs will change. If you make drastic or even small changes to your nutrition, your needs will change!
Working with your diabetes healthcare team, and diabetes coaches who can teach you how to make changes in your overall diabetes management plan are essential. Diabetes is a lifelong learning process.
Take a deep breath and be patient. If you dont like what youre seeing on your glucose meter, dont get madget studying! Take good notes and work with your team to make changes to reach your goals.
Read more about improving your A1c in DiabetesStrongs guide, How to Lower Your A1c.
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Go Small With Alcohol
You dont have to avoid it altogether — but be smart about drinking when you do. If you drink, women should stick to one 12-ounce beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor a day at most. Men should have only twice that. And dont drink on an empty stomach or when your blood sugar is low.
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.
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How To Lower Blood Sugar In Prediabetes
Now what? What should you do if you have prediabetes or risk factors for it? After getting tested, you have the choice. You can choose to take action and delay or prevent type 2 diabetes, or you can choose not to take action, and almost certainly get type 2 diabetes within years.
The great news is that taking action is not so hard! Most people with prediabetes can lower their blood sugar levels without taking medications. You can lower your risk for diabetes by over 50% with modest weight loss and regular moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking most days of the week.
Do you need help losing weight and getting active? Would you like motivation, tips for healthy eating and healthy behavior change, and personal coaching? Lark digital Diabetes Prevention Program offers 24/7 customized coaching via your smartphone, and it may be available to you for free through your health insurance plan.
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What Is Blood Glucose Anyway
Blood glucose, or sugar, is sugar that is in your blood . It comes from the food that you eat foods that contain carbohydrate, such as bread, pasta and fruit are the main contributors to blood glucose. The cells in our bodies need glucose for energy and we all need energy to move, think, learn and breathe. The brain, which is the command center, uses about half of all the energy from glucose in the body.
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What Are Considered Normal Blood Sugar Levels
You might not have diabetes now, but do you know the risk factors?
In 2015, 22% of Canadian adults were pre-diabetic and the number of Canadians suffering from diabetes has increased by 44% in the last 10 years. As the leading cause of blindness, kidney problems, and non-trauma amputations, it is important to protect ourselves against diabetes.
But its not all bad news, diabetes is often a preventable disease. Knowing whether you have normal blood sugar levels is one of the best indicators of risk. If your blood sugar levels are high, mindful eating and lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
Read on for all the hottest tips on how to manage your blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes.
Blood Sugar Level Chart By Age
Blood sugar levels tend to rise with age due to an increase in insulin resistance and decrease in insulin sensitivity. In one study by the National Health Institute , each extra decade of age was linked to a 2.7 mg/dl increase in fasting glucose, and a 4.5 mg/dl increase in 2-hour post-prandial glucose levels.
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Official Hba1c Ada Recommendation For Someone With Diabetes
The American Diabetes Association recommends an HbA1C of less than 7% for most nonpregnant adults with diabetes. A lower goal, such as less than 6.5%, may be appropriate for some people who have had diabetes for a shorter amount of time, for younger people, for those without heart disease, and/or for those with type 2 diabetes treated with lifestyle or metformin only. A higher HbA1C goal, such as less than 8%, may be appropriate for people with a history of severe hypoglycemia, a limited life expectancy, advanced diabetes complications, other illnesses, or for whom a lower HbA1C goal is difficult to achieve. Its important that people with diabetes discuss their target blood sugar goals with their healthcare provider.
HbA1C levels should be checked between two to four times per year in people who have diabetes.
Before And After Exercise
Regular physical activity is a key part of managing diabetes. This is especially true for people with type 2 diabetes, as losing weight could make an enormous difference in overall health. For those with type 1 diabetes, exercise can help increase sensitivity to insulin and control blood sugar.
However, because physical activity uses energy, it depletes cells of glucose, drawing glucose from the bloodstream and potentially leading to hypoglycemia .
Checking your blood sugar levels before being active and immediately afterward can tell you if you have enough glucose to fuel your workout and the degree to which you’ve depleted it while exercising.
Target glucose ranges vary from person to person, but in general, it is ideal for blood sugar levels to be between 126 mg/dL and 180 mg/dL before starting exercise.
If you test your blood glucose and it’s lower than 126 mg/dL, here are the steps to take depending on the exact reading you get.
After you work out, test your blood glucose right away and again two to four hours afterward to check for a delayed drop in your level. If your blood sugar is lower at this point, continue checking it every two to four hours or until it’s no longer low and you’re sure your glycogen has been restored to normal.
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How Can I Treat High Blood Sugar
Talk to your doctor about how to keep your blood sugar levels within your target range. Your doctor may suggest the following:
- Be more active. Regular exercise can help keep your blood sugar levels on track. Important: dont exercise if ketones are present in your urine. This can make your blood sugar go even higher.
- Take medicine as instructed. If your blood sugar is often high, your doctor may change how much medicine you take or when you take it.
- Follow your diabetes meal plan. Ask your doctor or dietitian for help if youre having trouble sticking to it.
- Check your blood sugar as directed by your doctor. Check more often if youre sick or if youre concerned about high or low blood sugar.
- Talk to your doctor about adjusting how much insulin you take and what types of insulin to use.
Do Your Blood Sugar Levels Drop When You Sleep
Yes, people with diabetes may experience a blood sugar level that drops when they sleep. This is largely due to a phenomenon called the dawn effect.
This doesn’t always happen and it’s not something that everyone experiences but as time goes on, our bodies will tell us which pattern is best for it: whether we should eat before bed or not. It’s important to experiment with what works best for our individual needs – if eating before bed causes our blood sugar to drop too low, then we’ll know that it’s best to avoid eating for the hours leading up to bed to keep your blood sugar under control.
If we do experience a drop in blood sugar levels, there are some strategies that may help us either prevent or treat it. Some people will take insulin before going to bed if they know their blood sugar is too high others might drink juice or eat cereal with milk before bedtime when they know they have low blood sugar during the night.
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Summary Of Normal Glucose Ranges
In summary, based on ADA criteria, the IDF guidelines, a persons glucose values are normal if they have fasting glucose < 100 mg/dl and a post-meal glucose level < 140 mg/dl. Taking into account additional research performed specifically using continuous glucose monitors, we can gain some more clarity on normal trends and can suggest that a nondiabetic, healthy individual can expect:
- Fasting glucose levels between 80-86 mg/dl
- Glucose levels between 70-120 mg/dl for approximately 90% of the day
- 24-hour mean glucose levels of around 89-104 mg/dl
- Mean daytime glucose of 83-106 mg/dl
- Mean nighttime glucose of 81-102 mg/dl
- Mean post-meal glucose peaks ranging from 99.2 ± 10.5 to 137.2 ± 21.1 mg/dl
- Time to post-meal glucose peak is around 46 minutes 1 hour
These are not standardized criteria or ranges but can serve as a simple guide for what has been observed as normal in nondiabetic individuals.
Why Do I Need To Know My Blood Sugar Numbers
Your blood sugar numbers show how well your diabetes is managed. And managing your diabetes means that you have less chance of having serious health problems, such as kidney disease and vision loss.
As you check your blood sugar, you can see what makes your numbers go up and down. For example, you may see that when you are stressed or eat certain foods, your numbers go up. And, you may see that when you take your medicine and are active, your numbers go down. This information lets you know what is working for you and what needs to change.
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Easy Before Bed Routines For People With Diabetes
You might be surprised to learn what your blood sugar should be at bedtime. The range is usually 5.0-8.3 mmol/L , and its important to check what yours is before going to bed. Checking your blood sugar before you go to sleep will give you information about what caused any spikes or dips in the day that you might not have noticed. For instance, if your nighttime reading were high, this would tell us that something may have happened during the day that could affect your diabetes management plan.
Creating a bed routine can also be helpful if your blood sugar at bedtime is higher than what youd like it to be. For instance, rather than eating or drinking anything sweet before bedtime and then checking how what should happen next for diabetes management will depend on what the readings are in the morning, try adding this into a routine:
- Eat dinner earlier in the evening
- Don’t drink sugar-sweetened beverages before bedtime
- Eating a nitrile snack before bed helps maintain your blood sugar normal and prevents your liver from releasing excess glucose
- Limit alcoholic beverages to the extent they disturb sleep
- Too close to bed exercises often can cause poor sleeping habits
- Avoid eating caffeine within several hours of going to bed
- Take medicine if needed to lower your blood sugar levels, but dont take too much insulin so you wont have a low reading in the morning.
Always consult with your doctor before changing anything to your diet, insulin plan, or diabetes management.
The Big Picture: Checking Your Blood Sugar
Blood sugar monitoring is the primary tool you have to find out if your blood glucose levels are within your target range. This tells you your blood glucose level at any one time.
Its important for blood sugar levels to stay in a healthy range. If glucose levels get too low, we can lose the ability to think and function normally. If they get too high and stay high, it can cause damage or complications to the body over the course of many years.
The logging of your results is vital. When you bring your log to your healthcare provider, youll have a good picture of your body’s response to your diabetes care plan. To help keep track of your levels, we have a glucose log. We also have a blood glucose log available for purchase that is smaller so you can carry it with you.
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