Managing Diabetes Over Age 65
Hypoglycemia happens when your blood sugar levels are lower than normal. It is defined as a blood sugar level of lower than 70 mg/dL.
It is common among older adults with diabetes. This could be due to the fact that the elderly are more likely to have other chronic conditions, malnutrition, or take multiple medications.
Hypoglycemia can also result from taking too much of the medication used to lower blood sugar. Overtreatment of diabetes in older adults is common.
Researchers say hypoglycemia is likely underreported because the elderly may not experience the symptoms of low blood sugar or they may not be able to communicate their feelings to their caregivers due to cognitive impairment.
Under Certain Conditions A Blood Sugar Reading In The 200s Can Damage The Bodys Organs
The longer that your glucose remains very high, the more likely it will cause a lot of problems and this includes blindness. 200
Blood sugar in the 200s isnt dangerous in the short term, and for most people has no real symptoms, but in the long term causes damage, as the bodys organs cant properly use the energy they need to function, says Susan L. Besser, MD, with Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, and Diplomate American Board of Obesity Medicine and board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.
Dr. Besser continues, It takes longer with lower high sugars because if the numbers are lower, it means the body is still able to use ingested sugar as fuel, at least to some degree.
The higher the glucose, the less the body is able to use the ingested sugar as energy.
The higher the sugar in the blood, the more likely there will be symptoms of diabetes such as thirst .
Another immediate symptom of abnormally high blood sugar is increased urination.
But this is not from drinking more water from the excessive thirst.
Its from the body attempting to get rid of all the sugar in the circulating blood. The thirst is actually from all the urination. 200
Unexplained weight loss is another outcome of persistent very elevated glucose.
Dr. Besser explains that the body is in essence eating itself for energy because it cant get energy for food. 200
Sugar builds up in the blood. Meanwhile, muscle cells become starved of energy.
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.
Read Also: How To Control Urine Sugar
What Factors Affect Blood Sugar
You can guess that carbohydrate intake and insulin production are at least partly responsible for your blood sugar levels. But the list is much longer — almost every lifestyle choice you make can affect your blood sugar. Here’s just a partial list.
- Exercise can affect insulin sensitivity, leading to lower blood sugar for up to 48 hours.
- Alcohol intake increases insulin production, causing low blood sugar.
- Stress hormones like cortisol can raise blood sugar, because your body wants access to energy in order to escape what it perceives as a dangerous situation.
- Medications, especially statins and diuretics, can raise blood sugar. Statins are used to treat cholesterol, and diuretics for high blood pressure.
- Diet is a major player in blood sugar. Eating too many simple carbs at once can cause levels to skyrocket, while protein intake leads to a slower increase in blood sugar.
- Dehydration raises blood sugar, because with less water in your body the glucose concentration will be higher.
Other surprising factors can affect your blood sugar, like a sunburn or gum disease, so if you’re dealing with a blood sugar issue and can’t figure out what’s causing your spikes and dips, talk to a health care professional.
Know Your Numbers: A1c
The blood test A1C shows how well your diabetes treatment is working. This laboratory test measures your average blood sugar level over the past two to three months. You should have an A1C test at least twice a year, according to the American Diabetes Association. Most people with type 2 diabetes should keep A1C levels below 7 percent. If your levels are higher, you may need to change your diabetes self-management strategy. “Elevated blood sugar over the short term doesn’t hurt,” says George Grunberger, MD, chairman of the Grunberger Diabetes Institute and a clinical professor at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. “But the higher the blood sugar, the more complications can develop.”
Recommended Reading: When To Take Sugar Tablet
Factors That Can Affect Blood Sugar Levels
If you have prediabetes or diabetes, you may have insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin. This means your body has difficulty regulating blood sugar levels on its own.
Its a delicate balance to maintain, so the following list can help you familiarize yourself with factors that can cause your blood glucose levels to go up or down.
What Is A Normal Blood Sugar Level
According to the American Diabetes Association, a normal fasting blood sugar is less than 100 mg/dL.
A fasting blood sugar reading of 100-125 mg/dL indicates prediabetes, and a reading above 125 indicates diabetes.
|Fasting Blood Sugar|
|100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl||Prediabetes|
|126 mg/dl or higher||Diabetes|
If you test your blood sugar two hours after eating or drinking something containing sugar instead , the numbers to look for are:
|Oral Glucose Tolerance Test|
|140 mg/dl to 199 mg/dl||Prediabetes|
You can learn more in the in-depth article: What Are Normal Blood Sugar Levels?
Also Check: How To Reduce Sugar Level Immediately
Fasting Blood Glucose Level Test Preparation
What should you do if your doctor orders a fasting blood sugar test? The preparation is the same as when you take a fasting test for cholesterol. First, be sure to find out if you need to schedule an appointment for your test . Ask your doctor what time is best to take it.
- Schedule your test if necessary
- Ask your doctor if you need to change any of the medications you take on the morning of the test
- If you normally drink coffee or have caffeine, ask your doctor if that is okay. It may not be, since it affects blood sugar levels
- Fast for at least 8 hours before your test. Usually, an overnight fast is most convenient
- You can drink water
What Are Risk Factors For Hyperglycemia
Major risk factors for hyperglycemia are:
- You have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
- You are African American, Native American, Hispanic or Asian American.
- You are overweight.
- You have high blood pressure or cholesterol.
- You have polycystic ovarian syndrome .
- You have a history of gestational diabetes.
Recommended Reading: What Vitamin Deficiency Causes Sugar Cravings
How The Test Works
The A1C test estimates the average blood sugar level over the past 3 months. The test is able to measure this by identifying the percentage of glycosylated hemoglobin in the blood.
If there is more glucose present in the blood, more glucose is available to attach to hemoglobin. Therefore, if a person has a high percentage of glycosylated hemoglobin, it indicates that they have had high blood sugar for an extended period.
How Does Hyperglycemia Happen
Insulin is a hormone that lets your body use the sugar in your blood, which comes primarily from carbohydrates in the food that you eat. Hyperglycemia happens when your body has too little insulin to use the sugar in your blood.
People with type 1 diabetes can have episodes of hyperglycemia every day. Although this can be frustrating, it rarely creates a medical emergency. Not taking enough insulin can lead to hyperglycemia .
Other things that can cause hyperglycemia include:
- Having trouble seeing or concentrating
- Experiencing stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting
- Having sweet-smelling or fruity breath
- Cuts or sores that do not heal, infections, and unexplained weight loss may also be signs of long-term hyperglycemia.
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should check your blood sugar. If your blood sugar is very high, you should also test for ketones in either your blood or urine.
Also Check: Can We Control Sugar Without Medicine
How To Prevent Hyperglycaemia
There are simple ways to reduce your risk of severe or prolonged hyperglycaemia:
- Be careful what you eat be particularly aware of how snacking and eating sugary foods or carbohydrates can affect your blood sugar level.
- Stick to your treatment plan remember to take your insulin or other diabetes medications as recommended by your care team.
- Be as active as possible getting regular exercise can help stop your blood sugar level rising, but you should check with your doctor first if you’re taking diabetes medication, as some medicines can lead to hypoglycaemia if you exercise too much.
- Take extra care when you’re ill your care team can provide you with some “sick day rules” that outline what you can do to keep your blood sugar level under control during an illness.
- Monitor your blood sugar level your care team may suggest using a device to check your level at home so you can spot an increase early and take steps to stop it.
Page last reviewed: 08 August 2018 Next review due: 08 August 2021
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.
Don’t Miss: How To Come Sugar Disease
Chronic Complications Of Dangerously High Sugar Levels
Perhaps more dangerous are the chronic complications of uncontrolled blood sugar levels. It causes widespread damage to various organs.
Chronically high levels of blood sugar will cause nerve damage, damage to large and small blood vessels.
It ultimately increases the risk of damage to the retina, causes blurring of eye lenses. It increases the risk of kidney disease, slow-healing ulcers, and amputations. The risk of heart attack and stroke is considerably high in those with poorly controlled diabetes.
To conclude, it is worth knowing that dangerous blood sugar levels cause acute and chronic complications, almost in all cases. In addition, it causes considerable disability and results in a shorter lifespan.
Hba1c Test For Diabetes Diagnosis
An HbA1c test does not directly measure the level of blood glucose, however, the result of the test is influenced by how high or low your blood glucose levels have tended to be over a period of 2 to 3 months.
Indications of diabetes or prediabetes are given under the following conditions:
- Normal: Below 42 mmol/mol
- Prediabetes: 42 to 47 mmol/mol
- Diabetes: 48 mmol/mol
There are two types of blood sugar levels that may be measured. The first is the blood glucose level we get from doing finger prick blood glucose tests. These give us a reading of how high our levels are at that very point in time.
The second is the HbA1c reading, which gives a good idea of our average control over a period of 2 to 3 months. The target blood glucose levels vary a little bit depending on your type of diabetes and between adults and children.
Where possible, try to achieve levels of between 4 and 7 mmol/L before meals and under 8.5 mmol/L after meals. The target level for HbA1c is under 48 mmol/mol .
Research has shown that high blood glucose levels over time can lead to organ and circulation damage.
Keeping blood glucose above 4 mmol/l for people on insulin or certain medications for type 2 diabetes is important to prevent hypos occurring, which can be dangerous.
Your doctor may give you different targets. Children, older people and those at particular risk of hypoglycemia may be given wider targets.
FREE blood glucose level chart
Read Also: Blood Sugar Increase Symptoms
What Levels Of Blood Sugar Are Dangerous
If you live with diabetes, you probably know that life with the condition is similar to walking on a tightrope.
Staying in range without too many high and low blood sugars is a constant balancing act.
But what levels of blood sugar are actually considered dangerous?
This article will explore the issue and provide advice for how you can help manage both the highs and lows of diabetes, literally!
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
Read Also: How To Reduce High Sugar Level Immediately
How To Treat Low Blood Sugar
If you think you have low blood sugar, be sure to check it.
Keeping your blood sugar levels on target as much as possible can help prevent or delay long-term, serious health problems. While this is important, closely managing your blood sugar levels also increases your chance for low blood sugar . Blood sugar below 70 mg/dL is considered low. If you think you have low blood sugar, check it. If you arent able to check it, go ahead and treat it.
Untreated low blood sugar can be dangerous, so its important to know what to do about it and to treat it immediately.
Are Low Blood Sugar Levels Dangerous
Yes, low blood sugar symptoms can cause problems such as hunger, nervousness, perspiration, dizziness and even confusion if untreated, low blood sugar may result in unconsciousness, seizures, coma, or death. Low blood sugar levels begin at 70 mg/dL or less. People with diabetes who take too much medication or take their usual amount but then eat less or exercise more than usual can develop hypoglycemia. Although much rarer, hypoglycemia may develop in some people without diabetes when they take someone elses medication, have excessive alcohol consumption, develop severe hepatitis, or develop a rare tumor of the pancreas . The treatment for hypoglycemia is oral glucose intake (15. 0 grams of sugar, for example, 1 tablespoon of sugar, honey, corn syrup, or IV fluids containing glucose. Recheck your blood sugar levels in about 15 minutes after treatment is advised.
Read Also: How To Control Pp Sugar