How Does Blood Sugar Level Work
With a lack of nutrients and food that contain glucose, the blood sugar level will begin to decline. This is known as hypoglycemia.
After blood sugar becomes low, the pancreas releases a peptide hormone called glucagon. When this happens, the glucose that is stored in the body for energy is instructed to release due to the liver. This causes the glucose to turn into glycogen, known as the glycogenesis process. This is what can help a body to regain energy as the readily stored glycogen, in the liver and muscles, will release into the body.
On the other hand, the blood sugar can also rise and become too high which is known as hyperglycemia.
When the body does not produce enough of the insulin hormone, blood sugar levels begin to increase. This is because glucose relies on the insulin hormone to help it absorb into the bloodstream. Usually, this occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin, known as type 1 diabetes, or does not respond to insulin correctly, known as type 2 diabetes.
Eating too many processed foods can also cause your blood sugar level to rise. If there is not enough insulin present in the body, too much bad food can cause your blood sugar level to build up.
For those with a normal blood sugar level, this will be due to eating the right foods and your body being able to produce and respond to insulin.
You may be wondering what exactly causes an imbalance in blood sugar levels, so here is a roundup:
Who Should Monitor Blood Sugar Levels
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, monitoring your blood sugar regularly will help you understand how medication like insulin, food, and physical activity affect your blood glucose. It also allows you to catch rising blood sugar levels early. It is the most important thing you can do to prevent complications from diabetes such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation.
Other people who may benefit from checking their blood glucose regularly include those:
- Taking insulin
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An A1c Of 7 To 8 Percent Is Recommended
As the ACP explain, the current rationale behind the existing recommendations of a score of 6.5 percent or below 7 percent is that keeping blood sugar this low would decrease the risk of microvascular complications over time. However, the ACP found that the evidence for such a reduction is inconsistent.
As Dr. Jack Ende the president of ACP puts it, analysis of the evidence behind existing guidelines found that treatment with drugs to targets of 7 percent or less compared to targets of about 8 percent did not reduce deaths or macrovascular complications such as heart attack or stroke but did result in substantial harms.
He continues, saying, The evidence shows that for most people with type 2 diabetes, achieving an A1C between 7 percent and 8 percent will best balance long-term benefits with harms such as low blood sugar, medication burden, and costs.
Additionally, the ACP recommend that patients who are 80 years old and above, or who live with chronic illnesses such as dementia, cancer, or congestive heart failure, receive a treatment that focuses on reducing high blood sugar-related symptoms instead of lowering HbA1c levels.
The reason for this is that for patients in this category, the potential side effects of hypoglycemic drugs outweigh the advantages.
Results from studies included in all the guidelines demonstrate that health outcomes are not improved by treating to A1C levels below 6.5 percent, Dr. Ende explains.
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The 411 On A1c: Normal A1c Levels And 15 Ways To Lower High A1c
The hemoglobin A1C test is the closest thing to a diabetes scorecard you can find. Whether someone has had diabetes mellitus for years or if they have just been diagnosed, they have probably heard about this test. Unlike blood sugar meters people use at home, the A1C measures an average blood sugar level over the past several months by analyzing how many of a patients hemoglobin cells have glucose attached to them. The test results keep track of how well a person is managing his or her diabetes.
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Normal Blood Sugar Levels For Children
Typically, children without diabetes between the ages of 6-12 should have normal glucose readings that look like this:
- Before breakfast : 70 to 120 mg/dL
- One to two hours after meals: Less than 140 mg/dL
- Before meals and at bedtime: 70 to 120 mg/dL
Parents or caregivers wonât typically be checking a childâs glucose throughout the day unless they have a medical condition. Still, it can be helpful to know what is healthy.
For children with diabetes, the amount of glucose in the blood will fluctuate from when they wake up, based on their activity levels, and before they sleep at night. Itâs important to remember that despite all this, glucose should overall stay between 80-180 mg/dL at all times throughout the day.
Who Is Most At Risk For Developing Diabetes
The following categories of people are considered “high-risk” candidates for developing diabetes:
- Individuals who are overweight or obese
- Individuals who are 45 years of age or older
- Individuals with first-degree relatives with diabetes
- Individuals who are African-American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asia American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islanders,
- Women who developed diabetes while they were pregnant or gave birth to large babies
- Individuals with high blood pressure
- Individuals with high-density lipoprotein below 25 mg/dl or triglyceride levels at or above 250 mg/dl
- Individuals who have impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance
- Individuals who are physically inactive engaging in exercise less than three times a week
- Individuals who have polycystic ovary syndrome, also called PCOS
- Individuals who have acanthosis nigricans — dark, thick and velvety skin around your neck or armpits
In addition to testing the above individuals at high risk, the American Diabetes Association also recommends screening all individuals age 45 and older.
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A1c Is An Average Of All Your Blood Sugars
It does not tell you your blood sugar patterns. Use it only as yet another indicator of how well youre doing.
Glysolated Hemoglobin is a measure of your average blood glucose control over the previous three months.
Glucose attaches to hemoglobin the oxygen carrying molecule in red blood cells. The glucose-hemoglobin unit is called glycosolated hemoglobin. As red blood cells live an average of three months, the glycosolated hemoglobin reflects the sugar exposure to the cells over that time.
The higher the amount of glucose in the blood, the higher the percentage of hemoglobin molecules that will have glucose attached. Think of the A1c as a long-term blood glucose measure that changes very gradually as red blood cells die and are replaced by new cells.
The A1c doesnt replace self blood-glucose monitoring. Because the A1c is an average of all your blood sugars, it does not tell you your blood sugar patterns. For example, one person with frequent highs and lows can have the same A1c as another person with very stable blood sugars that dont vary too much.
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.
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What Is Normal Blood Sugar Levels Chart
Blood sugar or glucose is released after consumption and breakdown of carbohydrates during food intake. It is the main sugar that is found in your bloodstream and its regulation is undertaken by pancreatic secretions . Normal blood sugar levels chart for most adults ranges from 80 to 99 mg of sugar per deciliter before a meal and 80 to 140 mg per deciliter after meals.
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
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What Is Hemoglobin A1c
Hemoglobin A1C is a lab test. It indicates an average blood glucose reading for the last 90 days. It is done when you find out you have diabetes, and every 3 months after that at clinic visits. A person without diabetes has a Hemoglobin A1C of less than 5.6%.
Target Hgb A1C is 7.5% for all children and adults with diabetes.
The chart below shows the Hemoglobin A1C result compared with the blood glucose number.
What Are The Symptoms Of High Blood Sugar
The symptoms of high blood sugar can vary depending on severity.
Early signs and symptoms of high blood sugar
When your blood sugar is around 200 mg/dL, but not yet dangerously high, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Increased thirst
- Shortness of breath
If you are experiencing any of the later-stage symptoms of high blood sugar, seek immediate medical attention.
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How Does Your Estimated Average Glucose Differ From Daily Monitoring
Daily glucose monitoring is another critical tool in diabetes management. But daily monitoring doesnt give you a long-term view of your blood glucose levels.
The readings on your monitor provide a snapshot of your blood sugar at a particular point in time. Your monitor might automatically calculate an average of all of these readings. But this number isnt the same as your eAG.
Your eAG accounts for your blood glucose levels 24 hours per day, including the times when youre not likely to test. As the name suggests, its an estimate based on your A1C test results.
If you have diabetes, youre typically instructed to test your blood sugar when its low . Your eAG is likely higher than the average on your monitor, providing a broader view of your blood sugar levels.
Things To Do If You Have Diabetes
Common things that people with diabetes should avoid include eating lots of simple sugars, eating too much food for the activity theyve performed recently, and not following medication or exercise plans.
Some things that can be harmful to people with diabetes are smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol in excess, and eating large portions of unhealthy foods.
The person should maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly. The doctor may also recommend taking insulin or other medications to manage their blood sugar levels.
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Different Levels And What They Mean
The ranges of safe levels of blood glucose depend on factors such as what time of day it is and when you last ate. Safe levels of blood sugar are high enough to supply your organs with the sugar they need, but low enough to prevent symptoms of hyperglycemia or complications of diabetes which follow the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases guides. Dangerous levels of blood glucose are outside of this range.
The target levels can also vary if you have diabetes. For example, if you are diabetic and are monitoring your blood sugar, you might get a reading of 65 mg/dl. That is considered to be mild hypoglycemia, and you would be wise to eat 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates and retest your blood sugar in 15 minutes.
If you were not diabetic, you probably would not know that your sugar was low because you would not test and because you would not symptoms, and you would not act.
That is fine because your body is capable, under normal circumstances, of raising your blood glucose to healthy levels when needed, even if you have not eaten. It is important to keep them in control to help prevent issues like heart disease or nerve damage.
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Symptoms Of Blood Blood Sugar Levels
Symptoms of blood sugar levels differ depending on if it is high or low. To determine which way the blood sugar have moved, the symptoms for each are typically:
|High Blood Sugar Symptoms
|Slow healing wounds
If symptoms are left untreated, more extreme circumstances can happen such as fainting, weakness, disorientation, vomiting and dehydration. When you notice symptoms, usually more than one at one time, it is advised to see a doctor right away.
It is important to get the right treatment so that you can return to a healthy normal blood sugar level and inhibit it from occurring again.
Treatment methods vary from the severity of the blood sugar level, whether it is high or low and if the patient has existing medical conditions, such as diabetes. Here are ways in which blood sugar levels can be treated:
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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.
Blood Sugar Levels During Pregnancy
The NIDDK states that gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that occurs during pregnancy if you were not diabetic before getting pregnant. Healthy blood sugar during pregnancy can help lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later. It can also lower the risk of your baby being born prematurely, at a high birth weight, and having respiratory problems.
Blood sugar and insulin levels during the first trimester of pregnancy tend to be lower than usual, but they rise during the late second and early third trimesters. You can be diagnosed with an oral glucose tolerance test .
These are the steps for the 2-step strategy.
- Drink a solution with 50 grams of glucose about the amount in 1 16-oz. bottle of a soft drink
- Get your blood drawn after 1 hour. IF the value is high, retest
- Fast overnight
- Drink a solution with 100 grams of glucose about the amount in 12 peanut butter cups
- Get your blood drawn immediately and after 1, 2, and 3 hours
Or, your doctor might use the 1-step strategy with a 2-hour OGTT:
- Fast overnight
- Drink a solution with 75 grams of glucose
- Get your blood drawn immediately and after 1 and 2 hours
These are some values to know from NIDKK related to gestational diabetes and healthy blood sugar in pregnancy.
|Time or Situation
|Baseline: at least 105 mg/dl1 hour: at least 190 mg/dl2 hours: at least 165 mg/dl3 hours: at least 145 mg/dl
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How Should Blood Sugar Levels Be Before And After Eating
Ideally, before eating , your blood sugars should be between 80-130 mg/dL. One to two hours after eating , your blood sugars should be below 180 mg/dL.
Blood glucose levels can be affected by the type of food consumed, how much, and when but also many other different factors like physical activity, taking other medications, having other medical conditions, stress, age, an illness, and even menstrual periods.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
The OGTT is a two-hour test that checks your blood sugar levels before and two hours after you drink a special sweet drink. It tells the doctor how your body processes sugar.
- Diabetes is diagnosed at 2 hour blood sugar of greater than or equal to 200 mg/dl
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
|140 mg/dl to 199 mg/dl
|200 mg/dl or higher
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