The Not too Sweet Truth about Blood Sugar
Today, diabetes has become a very common malady, especially in cities. Sedentary lifestyles and incorrect eating habits are the cause of it and to a certain extent, it is also hereditary. In this disease, the blood sugar/ blood glucose levels are more than the ideal levels. Over a period of time, these high blood sugar levels can lead to severe health problems. In some cases, low blood sugar creates health problems too.
If you have diabetes, it is important that that your blood sugar levels be within the target range. You will also have to keep checking your blood sugar levels at regular intervals during the day. In addition, your doctor will ask you to get the A1C blood test done. It checks the average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months. Let us understand what these two different blood sugar conditions are, what their symptoms are and how they can be kept in check.
High Blood Sugar/Hyperglycemia
The body gets sugar from the different foods you consume and insulin is the hormone that transfers the glucose/sugar to the cells in your body, to give them energy. Hyperglycemia occurs when your body does not make a sufficient amount of insulin or it is unable to use it in the proper manner.
Those who have diabetes can also get hyperglycaemia by not consuming the right kind of foods & because they have not taken their medicines correctly. Apart from this, certain medications, infections, severe illnesses and hormone imbalances can lead to high blood sugar. Hyperglycemia symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe.
If your blood glucose levels are consistently in the 11mmol/L-20 mmol/L range, you might suffer from certain mild symptoms of hyperglycaemia. Its signs of high blood sugar are:
- Higher levels of thirst.
- Increased urination
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss
Moderate to Severe Hyperglycemia
If you have consistently high blood sugar levels (generally above 20 mmol/L for adults & above 14 mmol/L for children), you might have moderate to severe hyperglycaemia and the symptoms of this condition include:
- Extreme thirst
- Blurred vision
- Flushed, hot & dry skin
- Drowsiness, restlessness or difficulty with waking up
If your body is producing little/no insulin (individuals with Type1 diabetes and some individuals with Type2 diabetes), you might also have symptoms like:
- Rapid/deep breathing.
- Weak pulse and a fast heart rate
- A strong and fruity breath odour
- Stomach ache, vomiting or even a loss of appetite
- In the event your blood sugar levels continue rising, you might also become lethargic and confused
- Extremely high levels of blood sugar can render a person unconscious
Low blood sugar/ Hypoglycaemia
When your body has very low blood sugar, you are said to be suffering from hypoglycaemia. Your body requires sufficient glucose to generate energy. Post a meal, the blood begins absorbing glucose. If you consume sugar-filled foods, the extra sugar is stored in muscles and the liver. When the sugar levels in the body begin to drop, a hormone in your body tells the liver to release glucose. If it does not do so, you are said to be suffering from Hypoglycaemia and the symptoms include:
- Difficulty speaking
- Feeling of anxiousness/weakness
In individuals who have diabetes, hypoglycaemia is generally a side-effect of diabetes medication and either eating/drinking something that has carbohydrates in it can help in bringing glucose levels to the desired range. If your sugar levels dip too often, your doctor might change your medication.
In some cases individuals with certain enzyme or hormone deficiencies, tumours or those who are taking certain medicines or suffering from some specific diseases, might also have hypoglycaemia, without having diabetes. Once you have understood all the symptoms of high & low blood sugar, its helps you get the tests done as required, make a correction and avoid serious health problems. The primary goal of diabetes management is to keep sugar levels well within your target range and lead a healthy life.
Do you think the rise of diabetes is linked to lifestyle issues (eating habits, lack of exercise etc) or is it in the genes (diabetes running in the family) or are there other issues triggering this? What can we effectively do to combat this growing problem in this country?