What Are Abnormal Glucose Levels And Why Do They Matter
Why is it unhealthy for glucose levels to be too high or too low ?
Hyperglycemia refers to elevated blood glucose levels. This usually occurs because the body does not appropriately remove glucose from the blood this can happen due to many complex reasons. Elevated glucose levels can damage blood vessels and nerves over time this can then lead to problems in the eyes, kidneys, and heart, as well as numbness in the hands and feet. Very high levels can lead to coma and even death in some cases. People with fasting glucose levels higher than 100 mg/dl have impaired glucose tolerance and should speak with their healthcare provider.
Some people may think that to avoid all these issues, they should just keep their blood glucose levels as low as possible. If too high is bad, then low must be good, right? Not exactly. When glucose gets too low, its called hypoglycemia. The threshold for hypoglycemia is typically thought to be when glucose falls below 70 mg/dl. When this happens, the body may release epinephrine , the fight or flight hormone, which can lead to a fast heart rate, sweating, anxiety, blurry vision, and confusion, but also helps the body mobilize glucose into the blood. If blood glucose levels stay too low for too long, it can cause seizures, coma, and in very rare instances, death.
Low Blood Sugar Levels
Blood sugar that is too low can cause symptoms such as:
- shaking and sweating
As with low blood sugar, high blood sugar may cause loss of consciousness or seizures if people leave them untreated. Persistent high levels can increase the risk of serious complications that doctors relate to diabetes, such as cardiovascular disease.
- Normal reading for nondiabetic person = 7099 mg/dl
- The recommendation for someone who is diabetic = 80130 mg/dl
Two hours after a meal
- Normal reading for nondiabetic person = Below 140 mg/dl
- The recommendation for someone who is diabetic = Below 180 mg/dl
- Normal reading for nondiabetic person = Below 5.7%
- The recommendation for someone who is diabetic = 7% or less
**My Med Memo The measurement mmol is the abbreviation for millimole.
How Do You Know What Your Blood Glucose Level Is
For the most part, you cant feel what your blood glucose level is unless its fairly high or its low. You may not even always have symptoms of either high or low blood glucose in fact, many people with type 2 diabetes dont have the usual symptoms of high blood glucose, and for this reason, its not uncommon for people to go undiagnosed for many years.
The best way to know your blood glucose level is to check it with a glucose meter. This means doing a fingerstick with a lancet and getting a drop of blood onto a test strip, then inserting the strip into the meter for a reading. Your doctor may be able to give you a meter free of charge, but youll likely need to pay for test strips and lancets. But check with your health plan, as there are likely one or two preferred meters that they want you to use.
Another way to know what your glucose levels are up to is to use a continuous glucose monitor, or CGM, which reads glucose in the interstitial fluid about every 5 minutes. Continuous glucose monitoring is expensive and may or may not be covered by your health plan.
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What Can You Do To Maintain Your Blood Glucose Levels
A good start in how to keep normal blood sugar is How can you decrease your blood sugar levels in this short article. Dont consume foods large in carbs and sugar such as buttered potatoes, fatty foods, sweet, and sweet desserts like cake with icing. Diet plan adjustment is a major step in your management of diabetes. Use a blood glucose log book with the date, time, and values of your or you and your medical professional to help you manage your type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, and use a blood sugar home test set to get glucose test outcomes. In addition, log any modification in signs in time. The log book will equip you and your doctor to change treatments and actions to acquire the very best management of your diabetes.
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Diabetes Is Diagnosed By Any One Of The Following:
Sometimes you may have symptoms of fatigue, excessive urination or thirst, or unplanned weight loss. However, often people have no symptoms of high blood glucose and find a diabetes diagnosis surprising.
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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 Abnormal Results Mean
If you had a fasting blood glucose test:
- A level of 100 to 125 mg/dL means you have impaired fasting glucose, a type of prediabetes. This increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- A level of 126 mg/dL or higher usually means you have diabetes.
If you had a random blood glucose test:
- A level of 200 mg/dL or higher often means you have diabetes.
- Your provider will order a fasting blood glucose, A1C test, or glucose tolerance test, depending on your random blood glucose test result.
- In someone who has diabetes, an abnormal result on the random blood glucose test may mean that the diabetes is not well controlled. Talk with your provider about your blood glucose goals if you have diabetes.
Other medical problems can also cause a higher-than-normal blood glucose level, including:
- Weight loss after weight loss surgery
- Vigorous exercise
Some medicines can raise or lower your blood glucose level. Before having the test, tell your provider about all the medicines you are taking.
For some thin young women, a fasting blood sugar level below 70 mg/dL may be normal.
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Levels After Youve Eaten
Many foods have types of carbohydrates called starches and sugars. When you eat foods with these types of carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is a type of simple sugar, and releases the glucose into your bloodstream. Aside from glucose produced by your liver, food is the main source of plasma glucose.
Two hours after eating, your blood sugar levels rise. They rise more when you eat more carbohydrates, when you do not eat fiber, fat, or protein with your carbs, and when you eat certain types of carbohydrates, such as refined sugars and starches.
These are target values from The Joslin Diabetes Center, which include levels for people with 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 youâve 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 itâs 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 itâs no longer low and youâre sure your glycogen has been restored to normal.
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Agree On Specific Target Ranges With The Diabetes Team
Sit down with a member of your diabetes health care team and discuss a range of blood glucose targets that are considered reasonable and realistic, given age, lifestyle and health considerations.
You should have a clear understanding of which numbers are considered too high or too low. It should also be clear what actions need to be taken if these numbers occur.
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
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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|
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:
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Target A Range Not A Single Number
Note that the CPGs recommend a realistic range for blood glucose levels, rather than a single number at any particular point in time. This is an important concept to grasp since diabetes management is far from a perfect science, and blood glucose levels can be expected to swing occasionally. Sometimes this can be for no seeming reason at all. On this topic, you may find it interesting to read our article Not all blood glucose levels need to be perfect.
Causes Of High Blood Glucose
- The hormone, insulin, regulates blood glucose levels by stimulating various tissues to take up glucose from the blood. In this way it clears the blood of excess glucose. A deficiency or resistance of the bodys cell to insulin is one the main reasons for hyperglycemia.
- Certain drugs may produce hyperglycemia . Some examples of these hyperglycemia inducing drugs include corticosteroids, beta blockers, thiazide diuretics, niacin, protease inhibitors, amphetamine, olanzapine, duloxetine.
- Other than diabetes, conditions such as acute stress, myocardial infarction , stroke, pancreatic diseases, brain tumors and hormonal dysfunctions of adrenal, pituitary, and thyroid glands could also cause hyper-glycemia.
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Talk To Your Doctor Or Nurse
If you use insulin and your blood sugar is frequently or consistently low, ask your doctor or nurse if you:
- Are injecting your insulin the right way
- Need a different type of needle
- Should change how much insulin you take
- Should change the kind of insulin you take
DO NOT make any changes without talking to your doctor or nurse first.
Sometimes hypoglycemia can be due to taking the wrong medicines. Check your medicines with your pharmacist.
How To Support Your Immune System When You Have Diabetes
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If you have diabetes, you may have noticed that your health care provider keeps a closer eye on your health. Theres a good reason for that. Diabetes affects your immune system, and your your immune system regulates your health and well-being. Its like a military defense system that protects your body from foreign invaders.
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What Level Of Blood Sugar Is Dangerous
Higher blood sugar than normal is always a matter of concern. When should you become vigilant looking at your glucometer?
If you are a non-diabetic person then it is a basis of distress if your glucometer shows a number higher than 140mg/dl and in case of diabetic the range increases to 180 200 mg/dl. This condition is known as hyperglycemia and calls for the necessity to consult with a doctor.
Is testing blood sugar the only way to know your hyperglycemia? What would you do if you dont have glucometer at home?
Just be conscious of the following 7 symptoms:
Sometimes even with the treatment, elderly diabetic patients develop dementia with time.
Level Of Blood Glucose In Adults:
The normal glucose level range from 100-180 mg/dL in a day. Generally, when they wake up after fasting for around 7-8 hours the sugar level in blood is at the lowest. The normal fasting blood sugar level can be less than 100mg/dL. After 2 hours of having meal, the blood glucose level ranges between 90 to 110 mg/dL.
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Common Tests To Check Blood Glucose Levels
Health care providers can use a variety of laboratory tests to check blood sugar levels and determine whether a woman has diabetes. Some of these tests require fasting for 8 hours before blood is drawn. Blood glucose levels that are too high suggest insufficient insulin production, reduced insulin sensitivity or a combination of the two and could mean that you have diabetes.
Fasting Glucose Levels
The most common test for blood sugar is the fasting plasma or blood glucose test . For an accurate reading, it is necessary to fast for at least 8 hours beforehand, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. For this test, a normal blood sugar range for women is between 70 and 99 mg/dL, the same as that for men.
A woman with a fasting blood glucose level of 100 to 125 mg/dL may have a condition known as impaired fasting glucose or prediabetes, which can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A fasting blood glucose level of 126 mg/dL or greater may indicate that you have diabetes.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
Health care providers can also assess the ability of your body to metabolize sugar with an oral glucose tolerance test . During this test, you’ll fast for 8 hours before giving your doctor a sample of blood. Then you’ll drink a sugar liquid during the next few hours, during which time your blood will be taken every 30 to 60 minutes, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.