Title 2: Blood Sugar- All you need to Know About it

What are sugar levels?

Blood sugar, also called blood glucose, is one of the main sugars present in your blood. Blood glucose is obtained after the breakdown of the food and is then transported to all your body cells, which utilize it for energy. Blood sugar levels specify the precise amount of sugar present in your blood at a specific time. Your body’s normal level of sugar is not constant and can be affected by a variety of factors like foods, stressors, activity level, age, certain habits like alcohol consumption or smoking and possessing certain comorbidities like heart ailments or diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.), diabetes is a condition in which your body’s ability to convert food into energy is affected, leading to a build-up of blood sugar and its detrimental sequelae. An integral part of converting blood sugar into energy is insulin’s (a hormone) responsibility. However, in diabetes, there is a lack of insulin production or inappropriate use of insulin, resulting in high blood sugar levels, which can harm the body. According to the C.D.C. normal level of sugar in the blood is 99 mg/dL or lower. If you have a blood sugar level of 100 to 125 mg/dL, it can indicate that you have prediabetes. A blood sugar level of 126 mg/dL or higher is confirmatory that you may have diabetes.

Tests for checking levels of blood sugar

To check your levels of blood sugar, there are various tests available as listed below.

  • Glycosylated Hemoglobin (HBA1C)- The HBA1C test provides you with an average blood sugar level over the last 2 to 3 months. The reason for the 3-month average level of blood sugar reading is that glucose sticks to the red blood cells within the blood, which have a lifespan of 90 days (3 months). A normal level of sugar is indicated by an A1C below 5.7%. A level between 5.7 and 6.4% indicates prediabetes, and 6.5% or higher confirms diabetes.
  • Fasting Blood Sugar Test- A fasting blood sugar test indicates your normal sugar level after an overnight fast. Normal fasting levels of blood glucose are 99 mg/dL or lower. Levels of 100 to 125 mg/dL indicate that you have prediabetes, and 126 mg/dL or higher confirm diabetes.
  • Glucose Tolerance Test- This test checks your levels of blood sugar at intervals of time to indicate how well the glucose is metabolised (broken down) in the body. After an overnight fast, you will be given a liquid containing glucose to drink. After consuming the liquid, your blood sugar level will be checked during the 1st hour, 2nd hour, and three hours after that. The normal blood sugar level at 2 hours is 140 mg/dL or lower. If your blood sugar level is 140 to 199 mg/dL, it specifies prediabetes, while a level of 200 mg/dl or higher confirms diabetes.
  • Random Blood Sugar Test- This test checks your level of blood sugar at a random time irrespective of consumption of food. A random blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher confirms diabetes.

Also know about the various glucometers price to test your sugar level at home.

Why should you check your levels of blood sugar in diabetes?

In diabetes, it is important to know your blood sugar levels to take the appropriate actions, as advised by your doctor. The reasons for checking your blood sugar levels are as follows.

  • To identify if you have high or low blood sugar levels.
  • To understand your blood sugar patterns and confirm if you are on route to achieving your treatment goals.
  • To identify how blood sugar levels are affected by diet, exercise, stress, or illness.
  • To monitor how diabetes medications affect your level of blood sugar.

Effect of food on levels of blood sugar

After eating food, sugar levels tend to rise, even in individuals who do not have diabetes. However, in diabetes, due to the lack of the hormone amylin (that decreases the speed at which foods reach the intestines for absorption), the rate at which food digests is much faster, leading to a rise in the sugar levels after food. Therefore, for individuals with diabetes, checking blood sugar levels one to two hours post-eating can help you control your levels of blood sugar and help your doctor make any medication changes if required. The table below provides an optimal range for sugar normal levels after food.

TARGET POST-MEAL LEVELS OF BLOOD GLUCOSE
GROUP/AGEPOST-MEAL GOAL
Adults with diabetes taking insulin at mealtime<180 mg/dL
Adults with diabetes not taking mealtime insulin<140mg/dl
For adults with gestational diabetes, one hour post eating<140mg/dl
Adults with gestational (pregnancy-related) diabetes, two hours post eating<120mg/dl
Pregnant individuals with pre-existing type 1 or type 2 diabetes, one-hour post eating<110-140 mg/dL
Pregnant individuals with pre-existing type 1 or type 2 diabetes, two hours post eating<100-120 mg/dL

High and low blood sugar levels

If your levels of blood sugar rise to more than 7.8 mmol/l (140 mg/dl), you have high blood sugar, also called hyperglycaemia. Hyperglycaemia may occur if your insulin is deficient or does not work efficiently. You may face symptoms like frequent urination, increased thirst, blurred vision, and feeling weak or very tired. Similarly, if your blood sugar levels are less than 70 mg/dl, you have low blood sugar or hypoglycaemia. Hypoglycemia can occur if you have taken too much insulin or there is a mismatch between your food intake and medication dose, among other causes. You may face symptoms like sweating, a fast heartbeat, nervousness, hunger, and anxiety. Therefore, to know what you are facing and to get it corrected by the doctor, it is essential to check your levels of blood sugar and to even know your blood sugar normal levels after food.

Bottomline

Blood sugar level checking is essential, especially if you have diabetes, to monitor your progress. Various blood tests are available to know your blood sugar levels. Factors like food, illness, stress, exercise, and pregnancy can result in a change in your blood sugar levels. By knowing the normal values of blood sugar levels and tracking them, your doctor can recommend the best treatment plan for you.

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/getting-tested.html
https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/getting-tested.html
https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/getting-tested.html
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/blood-sugar/art-20046628
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