Glucose level 143: Questions and Answers on diabetes symptoms — Diabetes Action
Questions and Answers on diabetes symptoms — Diabetes Action
Use the chart below to help understand how different test results can indicate pre-diabetes or diabetes
|Fasting Blood Glucose||Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)||Random Blood Sugar (taken any time of day with or without fasting)||A1C|
|Ideal Result||Less than 100mg/dl||Less than 140 mg/dl||Less than 140 (even after eating a large meal)||Less than 5.7%|
|Pre-diabetes||100-125mg/dl||140-199mg/dl||140-200||5.7% to 6.4%|
|Diabetes||126mg/dl and greater||200 mg/dl and greater||200 or greater||6. 5% or more|
Q: Can an alcohol body odor, profuse sweating, constant desire for sweets, and constant thirst be signs of diabetes?
A: When there is excess sugar circulating in the bloodstream, not getting into the muscles because of insufficiency or malfunctioning of insulin, the body may begin to break down fat at a rapid rate to provide energy to “hungry” tissues. This can cause the odor you are referring to. The other symptoms you describe can also indicate high blood sugar. I suggest you see your physician ASAP.
Q: How does diabetes affect your thinking process? Under medications such as insulin do diabetics still suffer from attitude swings?
A: With or without diabetes, when blood sugars are not in balance, fatigue, dizziness, “fuzzy” thinking, mood swings and other symptoms may result. With insulin-requiring diabetes, it can be even more challenging to maintain stable blood sugars, but is very achievable with the right monitoring and support. Having a disease like diabetes does provide greater challenges for stable health and moods, but does not negate the ability to attain and maintain them.
Q: I don’t have diabetes so why do I feel dizzy and shaky whenever I am anxious or hungry?
A: It sounds like you are experiencing low blood sugar. If you eat mostly carbohydrates, especially refined ones, you may be carb sensitive leading to low blood sugar symptoms after eating. Anxiety releases stress hormones that can cause your blood sugar to quickly rise and then fall. It is important for you to manage your eating patterns to better balance protein, fat and the “right” carbs.
Q: Do I have diabetes with fasting sugar levels only a little on the high side? They have varied from 102 to 110 for the last 10 years. However my sugar level after eating food has always been within the limit, varying from 110 to 130
A: You are what we term “pre-diabetic” with fasting blood sugars between 100 -125. One or two sessions with a nutritionist should get you going in the right direction to help you achieve a goal of being around 90 for a fasting level. And of course, regular exercise and activity are most important. If you haven’t done so, get a thorough physical, including an A1C (average measure of 3 months of blood sugars). This will give you some sense of the areas you need to focus on. All is manageable.
Q: My 66 year old father has diabetes. He has been getting very dry patches of skin on his back mostly. They turn a little scaly and itch very badly. Is this a typical symptom of diabetes? What do you suggest for relief?
A: Eczema can result from diabetes, especially when blood sugar levels have been out of range. He may also be low in essential fats such as those found in fish oil. Inadequate hydration is another factor to consider. I suggest for immediate relief, check with your pharmacist to see if there is a prescription that might help. In the herbal world, lavender can be very beneficial, but the oil would need to be a pure lavender oil. Adding oatmeal or baking soda to a warm bath can help keep the skin moist, a key to quelling the itching. Rubbing aloe vera juice on the skin can also be effective. This is inexpensive and available and in most drug stores and some grocery stores.
Q: Why do I get a headache and start to feel nauseous when I eat or drink something sweet?
A: It sounds as if you are carb sensitive, meaning the refined, simple carbohydrates such as sweets, are rapidly digested, lifting your blood sugar quickly but then rapidly “dropping” you back down. This is especially likely to happen if no other foods eaten along with the simple carb foods. It would be very wise for you to avoid these foods as much as possible. Have you had your blood sugar tested? Now would be a good time to follow a healthy lifestyle, eating whole, unrefined foods and staying active. Balancing our metabolisms is an ongoing and fine tuning process, challenged by the environment we live in and the daily stresses of life. It is doubly important to nourish ourselves well in order to combat the elements we can’t control.
Q: I have a 3 year old grandson. Now and then he has a slight shaking if he doesn’t eat right. I am thinking his sugar is low. Would you please tell me what a child’s count should be.
A: Right now, we have the same glucose ranges for chilren and adults for a diagnosis of diabetes. 126 or greater is diabetes. 80-90 fasting is a good range. Low blood sugar can range from 60-80 depending on the person and other conditions/medications. If you haven’t already done so, check with his pediatrician. If fasting sugars are normal and his symptoms persist, you may want to inquire about a 2 hour glucose tolerance test to see if he is in the correct range post-meal. In general, start him now on healthy foods, limiting sweets and juices. Be sure he has some form of protein at each meal. You may notice improvement.
Q: Why do my fingers always feel numb and cold?
A: I am assuming that you are asking this question because you have diabetes. Reduced circulation and/or numbing in hands/feet can be a result of fluctuation blood sugars over many years. You should mention this to your physician. Be sure you inspect your feet daily to be sure you do not have any unfelt splinters, etc. Most importantly, do everything you can to keep your blood sugars in a good range.
Q: Is it possible to have diabetes with frequent urination without excessive thirst? I have frequent urination (have to get up 5-7 times during the night, yet only drank 3 glasses of water the entire day and before 7pm). My reading at fasting was 118; reading 2 hours after a meal (spinach salad and chicken) was 207. So it seems like I have some of the classic symptoms. However, I am NEVER thirsty and I actually have to force myself to drink the 2-3 glasses of water that I do drink.
A: I would hope repeat testing has been suggested, particularly since you are still showing symptoms. 126 fasting, twice, means a diagnosis of diabetes. At 118, yours is a diagnosis of impaired fasting glucose. If you haven’t already started, it is most important that you now follow a healthy lifestyle. It may be helpful to get a hemoglobin A1C to get a 3 month blood sugar average. It may be that you are experiencing higher daytime blood sugars. You may also benefit by a visit to an endocrinologists if you are not getting resolutions from your current medical team.
Q: Should I be concerned that my 13 year old son has been very tired and had a 145 blood sugar reading? My daughter was diagnosed with type 1 last year when she was 7. I’m not sure if this reading was normal after eating and drinking.
A: That is a bit high. Is his tiredness an isolated instance? If you are concerned, you can request his levels be checked. If you have an endocrinologist, inquire about testing that may identify a predisposition to diabetes. Meanwhile, I suggest you actively work on dietary changes with him. Because you have one child who is already diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to have your entire family eating healthfully and leading an active lifestyle. Even when taking insulin, good lifestyle habits are what sustain a higher quality of life.
Q: Diabetes runs in my family so I am concerned that I am going to the bathroom much more often. I do drink a good amount of diet colas.
A: Lots of diet colas can be irritating since caffeine acts as a diuretic. Are you rapidly losing weight or showing other symptoms of diabetes? Start by stopping the sodas, and see if this doesn’t make a difference. If not, I suggest you see your physician. If you have any burning or irritation, it may also be that you have a bladder/kidney infection.
Q: Is hair loss is a symptom of diabetes?
A: Have you consulted an endocrinologist about this? Your hair loss could be related to a condition called “alopecia”, involving hormone imbalance. Poor diets can also be a cause, especially when B vitamins are lacking. I suggest you truly look at your lifestyle/eating habits and put forth fine tuning efforts here, and consult for further screenings if the condition persists.
Q: Are the following symptoms of diabetes?: very dry skin on my face, slight hair loss, a very sweet taste in my mouth, weight gain, difficulty losing weight, increased acne, tingling feeling all over, irritability, sometimes nausea, sometimes shaky if I don’t eat right away. I’ve been on the Atkins diet for the last 3 months, and have lost about 20 pounds. I run on a treadmill for about 50 minutes at least 4 or 5 times a week.
A: By now, if these symptoms are persisting, I trust you have seen your doctor for a check-up/screening. The Atkins diet is not for everyone; a protein emphasis of the right kinds and balance can be beneficial for metabolic control. Some people do better with vegetarian proteins such as beans. Getting Metabolic/Lipid/Thyroid Panels done will let you know where you are in the ranges. From there, you may need to reassess your dietary habits.
Q: Is it a sign of diabetes that my 14 month old twin boys have had yeast infections on their bottoms for the past two and a half months? I have tried everything but no relief from the symptoms.
A: Definitely discuss this with your physician. Your sons should be given probiotics such as acidophilus whenever taking antibiotics. Yogurt and Kefir are two great foods if they’ll eat them. Their diet is also very important: good protein sources and lots of greens, no white/unrefined foods. If you have any integrative medicine practitioners in your area, they would have a better handle on non-pharmacological approaches.
Q: Should I be concerned about being diabetic with the following readings: Fasting blood sugar between 80 to 100; 200 one hour after a meal?
A: You are showing readings of hyperglycemia. The ideal fasting blood glucose reading is less than 100. The ideal post-meal blood glucose reading is less than 140. 140-200 post meal/random reading is considered pre-diabetes. There is a greater movement among diabetes management practitioners to emphasize the importance of post meal control. This is because blood sugar excursions contribute to higher oxidative stress, which in turn may cause increased tissue damage leading to greater risk of complications. This seems to be more true than chronic sustained high blood sugars, such as only high fasting levels. I suggest you carefully reevaluate your daytime eating, perhaps being more careful of carb intake and type and follow up with your health care practitioner.
Q: Should I be concerned that my glucose level has gone slightly but steadily up over the past year and a half: 99, 104 and today 106 but I have none of the usual diabetes symptoms, have loads of energy, exercise a great deal at recreational sports, and eat wisely? I do have a family history of diabetes.
A: It sounds like you are on a good path geared towards a healthy lifestyle. You may want to seek professional nutritional counseling to fine tune if you are not already very aware of such issues as the impact of carbohydrates. You are still maintaining a low pre-diabetes status. There are nutritional supplements such as water soluble cinnamon that may also be helpful in keeping your blood sugars down. Be certain too that you stay well hydrated by drinking lots of water. If you maintain these numbers and don’t go any higher, you should do well.
Q: Why do I have a constant sweet taste in my mouth? I have seen my doctor and had a sugar fasting test and I do not have diabetes though I have been asked to lose weight.
A: I suggest you consult an endocrinologist to determine/rule out other possible causes of a metabolic imbalance. You may also want an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test to see if your blood sugars are normal post meal over a 2 hour period. Regardless of these outcomes, be very clear that you are now eating “properly”. Your thyroid may be a bit compromised so be sure you get 20-30 grams of protein for breakfast.
Q: Do I have diabetes if my glucose blood test readings have gone up from 94 to 102 over past 2 years.
A: 102 is a diagnosis of pre-diabetes. A fasting level anywhere from 100-125 is considered pre-diabetes. Two fasting levels of 126 or greater is a diagnosis of diabetes. If you haven’t already made significant lifestyle changes, now is the time to do so to prevent diabetes in the future. Stay dedicated to maintaining a good amount of daily activity and exercise.
Q: Do I need to do anything about an A1C score of 7.4? I was taking steroid for pain in my back. I have been checking morning sugar levels and after a month it has not been over 120.
A: Your numbers are high on both accounts. I suggest you aggressively tackle your lifestyle habits, focusing on dietary/exercise interventions. Steroids can elevate blood sugars, but for short term doses, there should not be a problem. Work to get your fasting blood sugars under 100, closer to 90. This will in turn lower your A1C to under 6.0. If, after a few months, you are not successful, seek physician intervention. If unclear about diet, etc., seek professional guidance.
Q: I am 39 and was diagnosed with diabetes about a month ago, all my symptoms (thirst, frequent urination, dry mouth etc.) started after having 2 steroid shots for a sore throat and then I was on prednisone for my back. Could I have gotten diabetes from that? My sugar was over 425. Now in the morning is around 103-120. After meals 148-193. How long will it take to get normal.
A: I wish I could give you a definitive answer, but I can’t. Yes, prednisone can be a trigger for diabetes, and with following a healthy lifestyle, diabetes can be resolved to more normal blood sugars. Certainly, you are reporting much better blood sugars, in the pre-diabetes range. I suggest you discuss this with your physician, and if needed, be referred to an endocrinologist for some more definitive answers regarding the endocrine system and what may be manifesting with you. At the least, ask your pharmacist the time frame you can expect to see your course of prednisone finished. If you have a family history of diabetes, the prednisone may very well have been your trigger, particularly if you weren’t following a healthy lifestyle. Time will tell; good lifestyle management is a “must.”
Information on the “Question and Answer” pages should not be relied on for medical or technical advice. Always consult your healthcare team. Diabetes Action and Jane DeVane cannot be responsible for errors or wrongful use of the information available on this website. The information provided on this site is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician/medical team.
What are normal blood sugar levels?
Use these blood sugar levels charts by age to find out if you fall in the normal blood sugar range
Blood sugar tests | Factors that affect test results | Normal blood sugar levels charts | Dangerous blood sugar levels | Low blood sugar | High blood sugar | When to see a doctor
A blood glucose test measures the amount of glucose, or sugar, that someone has in their blood at any given time. Having high or low blood sugar levels could indicate an underlying health condition, like diabetes, that may require medical attention. Blood glucose levels fluctuate during the day and what’s considered a normal range differs between people with and without diabetes. If you’ve recently had your blood sugar tested, use the charts below to understand what your results mean.
RELATED: Types of diabetes
Types of blood sugar tests for diabetes
Your healthcare provider may order tests regularly based on your age and risk factors. Or, if you are experiencing certain symptoms, your doctor may order one or more of the following tests to check your blood sugar. Blood glucose is measured in milligrams (mg) per deciliter (dL).
RELATED: More about blood tests for diabetes
What to expect: A hemoglobin A1C test, known as “A1C,” is a measure of blood sugar control over three months. This test can be done in the lab; however, many endocrinologists can perform this test with a finger stick in the office.
You can find various charts that convert average blood sugar levels to an A1C. Your provider will tell you what your A1C goals should be.
Test results: In general, normal A1C in people without diabetes is 5.6% or less, a level of 5.7% to 6.4% is in the prediabetes range (and the higher the number in this range, the greater the risk is for developing Type 2 diabetes), and a level of 6.5% or more indicates diabetes.
RELATED: More about A1C levels
Fasting blood glucose test
What to expect: This glucose blood test can be done in the lab or the healthcare provider’s office with a simple finger stick—or your doctor may prescribe a meter and have you test regularly at home. Some people have a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) where they can see their blood sugar levels in real-time.
Test results: Fasting blood sugar levels indicate what your blood sugar is when you haven’t eaten for at least eight hours. Normal blood sugar levels for adults without diabetes are less than 100 mg/dL after fasting. A fasting glucose level of 100-125 mg/dL indicates prediabetes, and 126 mg/dL or higher indicates diabetes.
RELATED: More about fasting blood sugar levels
Glucose screening test
What to expect: The test for gestational diabetes is called a glucose screening test. During the test, you will drink a sugary beverage. Then, your blood sugar will be checked one hour later.
Test results: A normal result is 140 mg/dL or less. If the level is higher than 140, your provider will order a glucose tolerance test.
RELATED: Understanding your pregnancy glucose test result
Glucose tolerance test
What to expect: A glucose tolerance test (also known as an oral glucose tolerance test) will measure your blood glucose levels before and after you drink a sugary liquid. You will first have a fasting blood sugar level taken. Then you’ll drink the sugary liquid, and have your blood sugar tested one hour later, two hours later, and possibly three hours later.
Test results: At the two-hour mark, normal blood glucose levels are 140 mg/dL or lower, while 140-199 mg/dL indicates prediabetes and 200 mg/dL or higher indicates diabetes.
Factors that affect blood glucose levels
Glucose is a simple sugar that’s always present in the bloodstream. You’ll get different results depending on when you test your sugar. Many factors affect the variation of blood sugar levels throughout the day:
- Type of food consumed, how much, and when
- Physical activity
- Medical conditions
- Menstrual periods
Risk factors for diabetes include genetic and environmental factors, such as having a family member with diabetes, having prediabetes, being overweight or obese, having certain genes, and being of a certain race or ethnicity. High-risk individuals can prevent some forms of diabetes by consulting a diabetes educator, maintaining a healthy body weight, and improving their overall health.
What are healthy blood sugar levels for a nondiabetic person?
Normal glucose levels in adults without diabetes, who haven’t eaten for at least eight hours (fasting) are less than 100 mg/dL. Blood sugar levels after eating will rise and hit their peak in about one hour. Blood sugar levels in healthy people without diabetes will usually stay under 140 mg/dL, and return to normal levels within two or three hours.
RELATED: See more blood sugar charts
Normal blood sugar levels for people with diabetes
Normal sugar levels for those with diabetes will also vary depending on someone’s age and the time of day. For example, when fasting, blood sugar levels are often in the target goal range. The type of food eaten will impact blood sugar levels in different ways. A meal with a lot of carbohydrates (cereal, cookies, waffles) will raise blood sugar quicker than a meal that contains carbohydrates, protein, and fat (a hamburger and french fries). Blood sugar will rise after a meal but will start to return to normal levels in several hours.
Let’s look at what blood sugar levels should be in those with diabetes based on their age.
Target blood glucose levels in children with diabetes
Children younger than 6 years of age should have a target range of 80 to 200 mg/dL each day. The amount of glucose in a child’s body will fluctuate from the time they wake up to after they’ve eaten meals and again before bedtime. For this reason, kids with diabetes or hypoglycemic episodes may have to have their blood sugar levels tested in the middle of the night by their parents. Many children (and adults) with Type 1 diabetes use continuous glucose monitoring, which mostly eliminates the need for finger sticks.
RELATED: Your child was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. What’s next?
Target blood glucose levels for young adults with diabetes
Teenagers should have average blood sugar levels that range between 70 to 150 mg/dL over the course of their day. Teenage years can often be the most difficult for adolescents with diabetes to manage, not only because of the hormonal component but also because managing diabetes requires a lot of responsibility.
Target blood glucose levels for adults with diabetes
When you wake up in the morning, your fasting blood sugar is generally at its lowest because you haven’t consumed food for about eight hours. However, many people experience an increase in blood sugar levels in the early morning hours. If you’re an adult and struggling with glucose control, your healthcare provider can help you develop a treatment plan to manage your blood sugar better. Blood glucose levels outside the ranges listed in the blood sugar levels chart by age above are categorized as either high or low blood sugar.
Target blood glucose levels for adults with gestational diabetes
The American Diabetes Association’s targets for pregnant women are 95 mg/dL before a meal, 140 mg/dL or less one hour after a meal, and 120 mg/dL or less two hours after a meal.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops in pregnancy—in women that were not already diagnosed with diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually develops around 24 weeks of pregnancy, so your healthcare provider will order a test around 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy—or earlier if you are at higher risk.
Managing gestational diabetes consists of dietary changes, exercise, checking blood sugar, and monitoring the baby. Diabetes medication or insulin may be required. It is important to manage gestational diabetes because the condition can increase the mom’s risk of high blood pressure as well as having a larger baby (9 pounds or more) that will need a C-section delivery. Gestational diabetes also increases the baby’s risk of being born early, having low blood sugar, and developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. Although blood sugar levels will likely return to normal after childbirth, about 50% of women with gestational diabetes will eventually develop Type 2 diabetes. Your care team will continue to monitor you after childbirth.
RELATED: What to know about gestational diabetes
What level of blood sugar is dangerous?
Low blood sugar in adults is generally considered to be less than 70 mg/dL. Dangerously low blood glucose levels are below 54 mg/dL.
Blood sugar levels are considered high if they’re above 130 mg/dL before a meal or 180 mg/dL within one to two hours after a meal. However, many people won’t start to experience symptoms of high blood sugar until their levels are at 250 mg/dL or higher.
Different people will have different blood glucose targets set by their healthcare provider, based on various factors such as age and other medical conditions. Your healthcare provider will give you more information about what actions to take for your particular high or low blood sugar ranges.
Low blood sugar levels
Hypoglycemia happens when blood glucose levels drop too low. People who take insulin may have low blood sugar if they take too much insulin or mistime the insulin dose in relation to food, or if they exercise more than usual when there is fast-acting insulin in the body.
Low blood sugar can also be caused by many things including certain medications or combinations of medications, alcohol, endocrine disorders, eating disorders, and disorders of the liver, kidneys, or heart.
RELATED: Low blood sugar symptoms
The only way to know for sure if your blood sugar is low is to test it with a glucose meter (a glucose monitoring device) or monitor it with a continuous glucose monitor such as the Dexcom G6.
How to raise blood sugar
If your blood sugar is low (or if you don’t have access to these tools and start to feel the symptoms of low blood sugar), the general guidelines from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) are to consume 15 grams of fast-acting carbs (such as Smarties, fruit juice, or glucose tablets) to raise your blood sugar levels and avoid further symptoms. Your healthcare provider will give you a plan for what to do in case of low blood sugar that is specifically designed for you.
You should also have glucagon on hand that you take everywhere with you, such as Baqsimi nasal spray, in case of a low blood sugar emergency. After learning how to use it, teach your family, friends, and caregivers how to administer it to you in case of an emergency where you are unconscious and cannot eat or drink. Also, always wear a medical alert identification to let first responders know that you have diabetes in case of an emergency.
RELATED: More on how to raise blood sugar fast
High blood sugar levels
Hyperglycemia is the medical term for having too much sugar in your blood. Hyperglycemia happens when the body doesn’t have enough insulin or when it can’t use insulin correctly. Many things can cause high blood sugar levels like Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, stress, illness, or the dawn phenomenon.
RELATED: High blood sugar symptoms
Untreated hyperglycemia can lead to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is where the body creates waste products called ketones that can build up in the blood and become life-threatening. A blood or urine test can check for the presence of ketones.
Symptoms of ketoacidosis include abdominal pain, fast or deep breathing, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, fruity-smelling breath, and vision loss (in rare cases).
“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.”
How to lower blood sugar
Here are some healthy lifestyle changes and medical treatments that can help treat hyperglycemia:
- Eat a healthy diet with whole, low-sugar foods that are minimally processed to keep the amount of glucose in the body at a lower level.
- Only exercise if there are no ketones present in the bloodstream. You can check if you have ketones with a urine test or blood glucose meter.
- Drink lots of water to help your body get rid of sugar in your urine.
- Use your insulin to correct high glucose levels. Your healthcare provider can help you determine the correct insulin dosages to help reduce elevated blood sugar levels.
- Take medications as per your healthcare provider’s recommendations. Some of the most commonly prescribed oral medications for high blood sugar are metformin HCl, glipizide, and glyburide.
When to see a healthcare provider
Getting professional medical advice from a healthcare provider like your primary care doctor or an endocrinologist is the best way to learn more about whether your blood sugar levels are where they should be.
Not getting proper treatment for low or high blood sugar levels can lead to long-term, serious health problems. Diabetes complications include diabetic ketoacidosis, nerve damage, severe infections, kidney disease, high blood pressure, damaged blood vessels, heart disease, heart attack, or stroke. Regular checkups with your diabetes care team can help prevent these complications.
If you see a healthcare provider about your blood sugar levels, be prepared to answer questions about risk factors like what you eat, how much you exercise, and your family history. Some healthcare providers may want to take a blood sample to test your blood sugar levels and A1C. You may have to fast eight hours beforehand to get accurate test results, so it’s always a good idea to check before your appointment. Your healthcare team can create a diabetes treatment plan if you’re prediabetic or if you have diabetes.
Be sure your treatment plan includes instructions on when you would need to seek emergency medical care. Emergency rooms are equipped to handle high blood sugar levels and can administer treatments like insulin therapy and fluid or electrolyte replacement.
What is the norm of blood sugar and what to do if it is high or low
January 25, 2022
Get your glucose tested at least every three years.
Why blood sugar is needed
In fact, we are not talking about sugar, but about glucose. Sugar, like any other carbohydrate, is not absorbed by the body directly: it is broken down in the intestines to simple sugars (monosaccharides) and enters the blood in the form of glucose.
A healthy 70 kg person has approximately 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of glucose in their blood at all times.
This substance is the main source of energy for all body cells. It is thanks to him that we have the strength to breathe, move, learn and think.
How blood sugar is measured and what is considered normal
In international practice, blood sugar (glycemia) is measured in the so-called molar concentration – millimoles per liter (mmol/l). In the United States, Germany, and some other countries, mass concentrations are also common, in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). To convert one concentration to another, it is enough to remember this equality: 1 mmol / l \u003d 18 mg / dl.
A blood sugar test is done on an empty stomach, usually in the morning. This is important because any food you eat can raise your glucose levels.
Sample can be taken from a finger or a vein. Venous blood tests give a more accurate result.
Fasting blood glucose from a vein is between 3. 9 and 5.6 mmol/L (70-100 mg/dL).
If the test result is different from the norm, this means the following:
- From 5.6 to 6.9 mmol / l – the so-called prediabetes. This is a slight increase in blood sugar levels, which means that something is going on in your body that increases the risk of developing diabetes.
- 7 mmol/l and above – hyperglycemia (increased blood glucose level). Most often, the violation speaks of diabetes mellitus.
- Below 3.9 mmol/l, hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). This is also an unhealthy condition that can be a sign of a number of disorders in the body.
Please note: when testing blood from a finger, the normal values shift – up to the range of 3.3-5.5 mmol / l.
Why blood sugar changes
The body regulates the amount of glucose in the blood by:
- enzymes that help break down carbohydrates in the intestines and thus affect the rate at which glucose enters the bloodstream;
- hormones that determine how quickly the cells of the body will consume sugar from the blood.
Essential enzymes are produced by the pancreas. It also produces insulin, a key hormone that allows cells to absorb glucose. If there is too little insulin, or, for example, cells stop responding to it for some reason (this is called insulin resistance), blood sugar levels rise. In the first situation, they speak of type 1 diabetes, in the second, of type 2 diabetes.
Glycemia is also affected by the work of:
- the liver and kidneys, which purify the blood from excess glucose and remove the substance from the body;
- thyroid gland: hormones secreted by it determine the rate at which cells consume sugar from the blood;
- adrenal glands. This paired endocrine gland also produces hormones (such as adrenaline) that regulate metabolic rate.
What is the danger of abnormal sugar levels
Both hypo- and hyperglycemia affect well-being. First of all, the brain suffers, since its cells consume about half (up to 60% – if we are talking about a hungry or inactive person) of all the energy supplied by glucose.
Dizziness, loss of concentration, weakness, blurred vision, trembling hands are common symptoms for both low and high blood sugar levels. But abnormal glycemia, in addition to feeling unwell, has other, more serious consequences.
With constant hyperglycemia, glucose accumulates in organs and tissues and becomes toxic – it begins to destroy the liver, kidneys, retina, blood vessels, heart, and nervous system. With a lack of sugar, the cells of the body are chronically lacking nutrition, and this also leads to damage to vital organs.
Why blood sugar levels are high
Most often this indicates a pre-diabetic state or diabetes mellitus that has already occurred. However, other medical problems can also lead to an increase in glycemia.
- Hyperthyroidism. This is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too many hormones.
- Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas.
- Severe stress.
- Trauma or surgery.
- Liver diseases.
- Pancreatic cancer, as well as other rarer tumors.
Why blood sugar is low
Hypoglycemia is also a common companion of diabetes. It occurs when a person suffering from this disease takes too much insulin by mistake. But other reasons for low blood glucose levels are also possible.
- Insufficient nutrition. The amount of sugar in your blood drops if you are on a too rigid diet or suffer from an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.
- Too strenuous and long exercise. Let’s say you just ran a marathon, rode a few tens of kilometers on a bike, or just dug a garden, forgetting about lunch.
- Hypothyroidism. This is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too little hormone.
- Diseases of the adrenal glands, pituitary gland, liver or kidneys.
How to know if your blood sugar level is abnormal
It is almost impossible to do this without a blood test. The fact is that the characteristic symptoms of a decrease or increase in glucose levels can be easily confused with ordinary fatigue or, for example, a reaction to weather changes.
In order not to miss the developing hypo- or hyperglycemia and the diseases that caused it, doctors – both Western and Russian – recommend regularly testing blood sugar levels.
Donate blood for sugar at least once every three years. This is especially important for people over 45.
In addition, it is recommended to do the analysis as soon as possible if you have signs of diabetes:
- urination becomes more frequent;
- you have put on a lot of weight;
- your eyesight is getting worse;
- weakness regularly rolls up, up to darkening in the eyes.
What to do if your blood sugar is low or high
This situation should definitely be discussed with the therapist. The doctor will determine the causes of hypo- or hyperglycemia, make an accurate diagnosis and give instructions on how to return the glucose level to normal.
Depending on the diagnosis, the physician may prescribe medication. Some of them may have to take a lifetime.
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What should be done in case of diabetes? How to treat, eat, take care of yourself? And what is required from other adults (parents, teachers, educators, coaches in the sports section and many other people) who have to intersect in life with such children? These and many other questions are answered by the pediatric endocrinologist of the GBUZ “DGP No. 143 DZM” Berezhnova Irina Viktorovna..
What is diabetes mellitus?
Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which the level of glucose in the blood rises significantly. An increase in glucose is associated with a lack of insulin. The most common cause of insulin deficiency is the death of pancreatic beta cells.
High levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood can harm the body, and that is why diabetes treatment is carried out, which is aimed at lowering and maintaining blood sugar at a level close to normal. Currently, diabetes cannot be cured completely, but you can and should learn to live with diabetes.
Insulin is the main means of maintaining blood glucose levels. Insulin is a hormone. It is produced by the beta cells of the pancreas. The main property of insulin is aimed at lowering blood glucose levels. If the body stops producing insulin, it is replaced in the form of a drug. Medications (insulins) differ in duration of action: ultra-short or short-acting (given before meals or to correct high blood glucose levels) and medium-duration or long-acting (given 1-2 times a day, the administration of these insulins does not depend on the intake food). There are several ways to administer insulin: insulin pens and insulin pumps.
Children with diabetes: special?
No. Children with diabetes simply require a little more attention from parents and other adults. During classes at school, in a sports or art section, the child should be able to measure his blood glucose level and, if necessary, inject himself with insulin. An educator, teacher, coach must understand what diabetes is, what it should not be afraid of, and how to behave correctly if a child needs the help of an adult.
Can a person feel their blood glucose level?
Most often not. That is why it is very important to check your glucose levels regularly with a glucometer or sensor.
What to do with hypoglycemia?
1.Measure blood levels with a glucometer
2. Take “fast” carbohydrates (2-5 lumps of sugar, or 1 glass of fruit juice or lemonade, or 1-2 tablespoons of honey or jam, or 4-5 large glucose tablets).
Always carry glucose, a sugar cube, or juice with you to help with low blood glucose.
3. Check your blood glucose after 10-15 minutes to make sure the hypoglycemia has passed.
4. Never go home alone if you have low glucose levels or if you don’t feel like you normally do. Call your parents or tell the adults who are with you.
5. It is always necessary to have information with you (for example, on a card, chains or bracelet), which indicates that you have diabetes.
6. Postpone exercise/exercise if your blood glucose is low.
If the child is unconscious, put him on his side, do not put anything in the child’s mouth, call an ambulance. Parents can administer glucagon.
High blood glucose – hyperglycemia.
The cause of high blood sugar levels is insulin deficiency (too many carbohydrates, insufficient or missed dose of insulin). Remember that skipping an insulin injection is unacceptable! If the child goes to a party with friends, find out in advance about the treats – a large dose or injection of insulin may be needed. To accurately calculate the dose of insulin, it is better to use a carbohydrate ratio.
Hyperglycemia can also appear with infectious diseases. If the child is ill, it is necessary to measure blood sugar before meals or after 2 hours. If blood sugar is high (more than 14 mmol/l persists for more than 4 hours, blood or urine ketones should be measured).
What to do with hyperglycemia?
1. Additional insulin injections may be required
2. It is important to observe the drinking regime – at least 1.5-2 liters of fluid per day.
3. If ketones in the blood rise above 3 mmol / liter or if it is impossible to cope with high blood sugar on your own, contact your endocrinologist or call an ambulance.
Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between the symptoms of low and high blood glucose. Therefore, it is extremely important, even with good health, to control the level of glucose in the blood several times a day. And if any complaints appear, take additional measurements.
Preventive measures: what to do?
No preventive or therapeutic prescription for diabetes mellitus, including drugs, can replace the compensation of carbohydrate metabolism. Every child and his parents should be familiar with a set of preventive measures to reduce the risk of leg injury.
Diabetes can damage the nerve fibers and blood vessels that supply the legs with blood. This is caused by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. This damage is called neuropathy (nerve damage). One of the first signs of neuropathy is a loss of sensation in the legs. The child may lose the ability to feel touch, pressure, pain, and warmth. The ability to feel pain is very important for the body, as it warns us of danger. When pain sensitivity is lost, it is very easy to hurt the feet without noticing it.
In addition, children with diabetes are at high risk of damage to the blood vessels. Such damage is called angiopathy (vascular damage). This process can occur throughout the body, but the vessels of the lower extremities are most often affected. As a result, any wounds or skin cuts can take a very long time to heal.
The child may not notice the moment when he hurts his leg or rubs a callus. Cuts and wounds may not heal for a long time, in addition, they become infected for a long time. Infections are more common in children with diabetes, especially when blood glucose levels are high. Constant pressure on a certain spot can cause blisters to form, such as when wearing tight shoes. If the calluses are not treated, the skin in this place is damaged, and ulcers form in their place.
Here are a few simple rules, strict observance of which will allow you to get rid of damage and prevent their manifestation.
1. Daily care. Wash your feet daily, pat them dry, especially between the toes. Pay close attention to the skin on your feet. If the child or parents notice any changes in the skin of the legs or consider that its sensitivity has changed, it is necessary to inform the attending physician about this. Use a moisturizer to soften the skin. Signs of an ideal cream are known: easy to apply, quickly absorbed, does not leave a sticky or greasy residue. Before buying, study the composition. If you see parabens or phthalates on the list, leave the cream on the store shelf. But natural ingredients, extracts of plants and herbs – what you need. Mint, lavender, calendula, chamomile, tea tree – the list is far from complete, manufacturers use new and new natural ingredients. Be afraid to make a mistake – look for the label “suitable for people with diabetes” on the package. Most importantly, do not forget to test the cream for allergies. Apply a small amount to the back of your forearm and ensure there is no irritation. Soft leather is less prone to cracking. But don’t apply moisturizer between your toes or it will lead to a fungal infection. Remember, do not use the following foot products: callus remover, wart remover, rough skin remover or ingrown toenail remover. If your child has ingrown toenails, you should see a doctor.
2. Do not use scissors for cutting nails, a nail file is suitable for this purpose. This will help the child avoid skin damage. And no metal files or scrapers, only sparing pedicure tools.
3. While taking a bath, start cold water first and check the temperature of the water with a special thermometer before diving.
4. No matter how beautiful the rubber slates are, no matter how the rhinestones of leatherette sandals shine in the sun, we remember how painful corns and calluses are and give preference to shoes made from natural materials. Leather, cotton or linen are the best choices. Remember that shoes do not need to be broken in, and if the child experiences discomfort during the fitting, it is better to refuse the purchase. It’s beautiful that it’s comfortable! Check the seams on the inside of the shoe, as exposed seams can chafe your feet. Soft-top lace-up shoes support and protect feet well. If the shape of the child’s feet is deformed, special orthopedic shoes may be required. Check regularly that the soles of your child’s shoes are thick enough to protect the feet. Don’t wear indoor slippers for too long as they don’t protect your feet properly. The child must wear tight-fitting socks. Socks that are too tight will interfere with normal circulation, while socks that are too loose and gather in folds can cause sores on the feet.
Complications of diabetes mellitus: what?
Another problem that children with diabetes face is retinopathy. This is a complication of diabetes mellitus caused by damage to the vessels of the retina. The cause of diabetic retinopathy is long-term decompensation of diabetes, retinal vessels become more fragile, permeable, lose elasticity. This eventually leads to changes in the entire tissue of the retina, which can lead to loss of vision. One of the problems in detecting retinopathy is the asymptomatic onset. If your child notices any of the following signs of visual impairment, you should contact an optometrist for a timely examination. The presence and severity of diabetic retinopathy can only be determined by an ophthalmologist. These complaints include: blurred vision or double vision, difficulty reading signs or books, pain in one or both eyes, sudden deterioration in vision in dim light, redness of the eyes that does not go away.
Due to the decrease in the body’s defenses in children with diabetes mellitus, inflammatory eye diseases are persistent and prolonged. Unfortunately, bacteria multiply well when there is an excess of nutrient sugar in the blood and tissues. Blepharitis, conjunctivitis, keratitis, multiple styes occur regularly and are difficult to treat. And any injuries and burns of the eyes heal slowly and hard.
How to reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy.
1. Strict control of blood glucose levels is the basic rule.
2. Healthy balanced diet.
3. Regular physical activity.
4. You must follow the safety rules for any work: wear safety glasses and do not touch your eyes with dirty hands. Proper eyelid hygiene is essential. After washing your face with warm water, you should clean the skin around the eyes from the remnants of cosmetics, household dust and other contaminants with cotton pads, using special hygienic solutions for the eyes. Try, if possible, to limit the time your child spends on a computer, smartphone or tablet. Walk more, take care of your eyesight.
Diabetes is not a contraindication for physical education and sports.
Physical activity has a beneficial effect on all types of metabolism. It also has a significant effect on carbohydrate metabolism. With intense physical activity, the sensitivity of body cells to insulin increases, which leads to a decrease in blood glucose levels and a decrease in insulin dosages.
The child can participate in sports competitions and other activities where there is physical activity. But, starting classes, it is necessary to understand well how the load affects blood sugar levels and monitor blood glucose levels. When many muscle groups are involved, large amounts of glucose are absorbed by them, blood sugar levels decrease, but the injected insulin continues to act and hypoglycemia can occur.
To prevent its development during sports or physical education, a number of conditions must be met:
– compensation of carbohydrate metabolism (physical activity should be postponed both with blood glucose below 5 mmol / l and above 15 mmol / l)
– a well-established diet and insulin therapy
– do not start exercising if you feel unwell or sick
– know the symptoms of hypoglycemia well
– the presence of easily digestible carbohydrates
Remember that hypoglycemia can develop not only during exercise, but also several hours after it ends.
In addition, you need to know that with a lack of insulin in the blood and intense physical activity, the cells starve. The liver, having received a signal that the cells are starving, releases additional glucose into the blood. But even this glucose does not reach the goal, since it can only get into the cells with the help of insulin, and it is just not enough. The more intense the load, the more the liver releases sugar into the blood, the higher the blood sugar level.
Therefore, it is necessary to determine the level of glucose in the blood before exercise, during exercise (especially if it is prolonged) and after it.
It is better to discuss with your treating endocrinologist how to most optimally distribute physical activity during the day, what sports to do.
Leisure and travel.
There are no fundamental restrictions on recreation for children with diabetes mellitus. In general, children with diabetes can travel and vacation just like everyone else. Most importantly, one should be very well versed in many problems of diabetes mellitus, regularly and competently carry out self-monitoring, and if necessary, correct the dose of insulin in time. If your child is traveling with a class on a field trip or camping trip, it is important that teachers and parents accompanying the group know what to do if the child becomes unwell during the trip due to low or high blood glucose levels. Do not forget to give your child a glucometer, test strips, an insulin pen, and a lancet. In case of hypoglycemia, it is imperative to have sugar, glucose, or juice and additional food with you so as not to disturb the diet. If there is a lot of food on a field trip or holiday that could raise blood glucose levels, the child may need to increase their dose of insulin or take an extra injection. A good solution in this situation is to contact the adult who organizes this event and find out what kind of food will be.
Since, regardless of the rest, insulin will be needed constantly, you should remember the rules for storing insulin.
· When traveling by plane, syringe pens should always be kept with you or in your hand luggage. Under no circumstances should insulin be checked in as luggage. Low temperatures in the luggage compartment will cause the insulin to freeze.
· When traveling by public or private transport, insulin should also be carried with you. Do not put a bag of insulin on the rear window shelf or on the console under the windshield, where high temperatures can cause the insulin to lose its properties.