Signs That May Indicate You Are At Risk For Diabetes
**This article is a repost of an earlier written article. We are reposting because we believe the information is valuable and pertinent to many.**
According to the CDC, over 9% of Americans are living with diabetes. This illness is becoming increasingly common, with 1.5 million Americans being diagnosed with diabetes every year.
There are some serious complications that can come with having high blood sugar such as heart failure and stroke. However, diabetes can be managed with prescription medication, diet, and exercise to help you live a normal, healthy life.
How To Calculate Your Blood Sugar Level: The Complete Guide
To get an accurate reading of your blood sugar level, the best and most effective method is using a glucose meter. This will involve a small prick in your finger so receive a blood sample. The strip is then inserted into the meter and tested.
You may be wondering what your reading should be. There is no normal reading, an ideal reading differs from person to person. Everyone will get different readings at different times of the day. However, there is a rough range to determining a low, normal and high blood sugar level. Blood sugar level is read in mmol/L, which stands for millimoles per liter. Here is a guide as to what an ideal reading is for each diabetic type and non-diabetic patients:
|4 5.9 mmol/L< 7.8 mmol/L||4 5.9 mmol/L< 7.8 mmol/L|
It is advised to check it regularly if you are concerned, show regular symptoms or have diabetes. You should check before meals, exercise, before bedtime and after driving. Everyone is different so it is best to ask your doctor if you are unsure how many times and when you should check your blood sugar levels.
Research shows that over 50% who try to estimate their blood sugar level reading are incorrect. This may be due to over underlying medical conditions that did not know they had or poor lack of judgement. Therefore, this suggests it is very important to test at home to check in on your levels regularly to avoid any unnecessary future complications.
What Are Blood Sugar Levels
Blood sugar levels, also known as blood glucose level, is the level of sugar/glucose present in the blood. Glucose is a simple version of sugar which comes from the food we eat. Therefore, the more food you consume with high sugar levels over a period of time, will typically increase your blood sugar level.
Glucose comes from the foods we eat and its sugar content. When a person consumes a food with high sugar content, that is turned into glucose. The glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream with the support of insulin. This is then distributed between the bodys cells and used as energy.
Foods high in glucose include most carbohydrates and a handful of proteins and fats. Most foods contain glucose as it is simply a natural sugar that occurs in most dietary forms. However, it is carbohydrates that contain the most sugar and 100% of it turns into glucose, through the process mentioned above, once consumed. The concentration of glucose present in the blood will determine your blood sugar level.
Here is a quick video explaining Blood sugar levels chart :
Your blood sugar level can either be low, normal or high. Depending on what you eat and health conditions, it will vary from person to person. Here is a breakdown of how your blood sugar works and how low or high blood sugar levels happens:
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What Causes Hyperglycemia In People With Diabetes
- The dose of insulin or oral diabetes medication that you are taking is not the most helpful dose for your needs.
- Your body isnt using your natural insulin effectively .
- The amount of carbohydrates you are eating or drinking is not balanced with the amount of insulin your body is able to make or the amount of insulin you inject.
- You are less active than usual.
- Physical stress is affecting you.
- Emotional stress is affecting you.
- You are taking steroids for another condition.
- The dawn phenomenon is affecting you.
Other possible causes
- Pancreatic diseases such as pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and cystic fibrosis.
- Certain medications .
- Gestational diabetes, which happens in 4% of pregnancies, and is due to decreased insulin sensitivity.
- Surgery or trauma.
Causes Of High Blood Sugar
Common causes of high blood sugar in people with diabetes include:
- eating too much sugary or starchy food
- being less active than usual
- missing doses of diabetes medicine
You can also get high blood sugar if your diabetes medicine is not working well, you’re taking certain medicines or you recently had an operation.
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Being Extra Thirsty And Having To Urinate More Than Usual
This is a common but not-so-obvious sign of blood sugar that is too high: feeling really thirsty and needing to drink more than usual. Excessive urination, known as polyuria, occurs when glucose builds up in your blood, and your kidneys begin working harder to get rid of the extra glucose, says Zanini. If your kidneys cant keep up and adjust blood sugar so that it returns to a normal level, the excess sugar is flushed out of your body through urine, she adds. You may become dehydrated and get dizzy.
You Feel Tiredness And Fatigue Constantly
Fatigue and extreme tiredness are symptoms of uncontrolled blood sugar, the ADA says. Simply put, when your body is not processing insulin properly or it doesnt have sufficient amounts of insulin, the sugar is staying in our blood rather than getting into our cells to be used for energy, Zanini says. Also, frequent urination can lead to dehydration, which Bandukwala identifies as another contributing factor to fatigue.
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Symptoms In Children And Teens
Type 2 diabetes is more likely to appear after the age of 45 years, but it can affect children and teens who:
- have excess weight
- slow healing of cuts or wounds
- numbness or tingling in hands and feet
If caregivers notice these symptoms, they should take the child to see a doctor. These are also symptoms of type 1 diabetes. Type 1 is less common but more likely to affect children and teenagers than adults. However, type 2 diabetes is becoming more common in young people than it was in the past.
Learn more here about how diabetes affects children and teens and how to spot the symptoms early.
How Is Diabetes Diagnosed
The fasting blood glucose test is the preferred way to diagnose diabetes. It is easy to perform and convenient. After the person has fasted overnight , a single sample of blood is drawn and sent to the laboratory for analysis. This can also be done accurately in a doctors office using a glucose meter.
- Normal fasting plasma glucose levels are less than 100 milligrams per deciliter .
- Fasting plasma glucose levels of more than 126 mg/dl on two or more tests on different days indicate diabetes.
- A random blood glucose test can also be used to diagnose diabetes. A blood glucose level of 200 mg/dl or higher indicates diabetes.
When fasting blood glucose stays above 100mg/dl, but in the range of 100-126mg/dl, this is known as impaired fasting glucose . While patients with IFG or prediabetes do not have the diagnosis of diabetes, this condition carries with it its own risks and concerns, and is addressed elsewhere.
The oral glucose tolerance test
For the test to give reliable results:
- The person must be in good health .
- The person should be normally active , and
- The person should not be taking medicines that could affect the blood glucose.
- The morning of the test, the person should not smoke or drink coffee.
Evaluating the results of the oral glucose tolerance test
Glucose tolerance tests may lead to one of the following diagnoses:
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How Can I Prevent Hyperglycaemia
To reduce your risk of severe or prolonged hyperglycaemia:
- monitor your blood glucose level regularly
- be careful with what you eat be particularly aware of how snacking and eating sugary foods or carbohydrates can affect your blood glucose levels
- stick to your management plan take diabetes medicines as and when directed
- be as active as possible getting regular exercise can help stop your blood glucose level rising, but you should check with your doctor first if you’re taking diabetes medication, as some medicines can lead to hypoglycaemia if you exercise too much.
- take extra care when you’re ill see our page on having a diabetes sick day plan.
What Is A Normal Blood Sugar Level
Normal blood glucose levels are from between 4.0 to 5.4 mmol per litre of blood when fasting, and up to 7.8 mmol per litre of blood two hours after a meal.
If you’re having your blood sugar levels tested, your doctor will perform something called a ‘glucose tolerance test‘ which involves two blood tests, one after fasting, and one after the consumption of a sugary drink.
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What’s The Difference Between Diabetes
Hyperglycemia and diabetes-related ketoacidosis both happen when your body doesn’t have enough insulin or isn’t using the insulin it has properly.
The difference is that DKA is an acute complication, meaning it has a severe and sudden onset. While very high blood sugar is almost always a contributing factor to DKA, other conditions need to be present to have DKA, including ketones in your blood and/or urine. You can have high blood sugar without having ketones in your blood and/or urine.
Untreated high blood sugar can lead to DKA. This is why its important to treat high blood sugar with insulin as soon as possible.
Although its not as common, you can be in DKA even if your blood sugar is lower than 250 mg/dL. This is known as euglycemic diabetes-related ketoacidosis .
Urgent Advice: Call Your Care Team Immediately Or Get Help From Nhs 111 If:
You think you have high blood sugar and:
- you’re feeling sick, being sick or have stomach pain
- you’re breathing more quickly than usual or your heart is beating faster than usual
- you feel drowsy or are struggling to stay awake
- your breath has a fruity smell
- you feel confused or have difficulty concentrating
- you have a high level of ketones in your blood or pee
These could be signs you’re becoming seriously unwell.
You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.
Page last reviewed: 26 May 2022 Next review due: 26 May 2025
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Check Your Blood Sugar
People with diabetes need to check their blood sugars regularly. Your doctor will talk about your blood sugar management schedule. The typical recommendations for when to check your sugars include
- Fasting blood sugar first thing in the morning
- Before every meal
- Two hours after every meal,
- Last thing before bed
Diabetes Sign: Your Vision Is Blurry
Your macula is a small lens in the center in your eye thats responsible for sharp central vision. But when your glucose levels are too high, fluid can seep into the lens and make it swell up, Dr. Fuhrman says.
That swelling can change the shape of the lens, so its unable to focus properly. When that happens, your vision can get fuzzy and uncleareven if youre wearing your glasses or contacts like usual.
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Moderate To Severe High Blood Sugar
You may have moderate to severe symptoms if your blood sugar levels are consistently high. These symptoms include:
- Blurred vision.
- Flushed, hot, dry skin.
- Restlessness, drowsiness, or difficulty waking up.
People with type 1 diabetes and some people with type 2 diabetes produce little or no insulin. These people may also have:
- Rapid, deep breathing.
- A fast heart rate and a weak pulse.
- A strong, fruity breath odor.
- Loss of appetite, belly pain, and/or vomiting.
If your blood sugar levels continue to rise, you may:
- Become confused and sluggish.
- Pass out if your blood sugar levels are very high.
What You Can Do Now
Your doctor will provide you with clear steps to follow aimed at lowering your blood sugar levels. Its important that you take their recommendations to heart and make any necessary lifestyle changes to improve your health. If left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to serious, and sometimes life-threatening, complications.
Your doctor may recommend that you buy a blood glucose meter to use at home. This is a simple and effective way to monitor your blood sugar and act quickly if your levels have spiked to an unsafe level. Being aware of your levels can empower you to take charge of your condition and live a healthy lifestyle.
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What Is High Blood Sugar
High blood sugar occurs when theres a buildup of excess glucose in the bloodstream. This is more often a concern for someone with diabetes than it is for someone without it. Our bodies are typically pretty great at keeping our blood sugar in perfect balance, Deena Adimoolam, M.D., assistant professor of endocrinology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, tells SELF. But in some situations, like when a person has diabetes, high blood sugar can happen.
Blood sugar is measured in milligrams per deciliter , and a fasting blood sugar of greater than 125 mg/dL is considered hyperglycemic, the Cleveland Clinic says. A person can also be considered to have hyperglycemia if their blood glucose level is higher than 180 mg/dL one to two hours after eating, the Cleveland Clinic says.
Add More Resistant Starch To Your Plate
Not all carbohydrates are equal. Simple sugars digest quickly, and the glucose hits your blood fast, causing a spike in blood sugars. Resistant starches with complex carbohydrates take longer to break down. Your blood sugar levels will rise slowly and not get quite as high.
Some examples of resistant starches include:
- Rice and potatoes, served cooked but cold
- Whole grains such as barley and oats
- Plantains, underripe bananas
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What Tests Are Used To Diagnose Diabetes
In the hospital, healthcare providers may use the following tests to diagnose DKA:
- Blood pressure check.
- Osmolality blood test.
If you have diabetes and call your healthcare provider from home about your symptoms, they can usually determine if you have diabetes-related ketoacidosis based on your history, blood sugar levels and urine and/or blood ketones. They will also determine if you can treat your symptoms from home or if you need to go to the hospital for treatment. There are a few at-home tests you can take to see if you could have DKA, including:
- Urine ketone test: A urine ketone test measures the number of ketones in your pee. Its usually a strip that will turn a certain color depending on what level of ketones are in your pee. Urine ketone tests can be purchased at your local pharmacy without a prescription. Follow the instructions on the packaging to be sure you are doing the test properly.
- Blood ketone test: Some at-home blood glucose meters can check blood ketones as well as blood sugar levels with a drop of blood. There are also meters that just check ketones in your blood that you can buy.
- Blood glucose tests: High blood sugar is a sign that you could have DKA. Checking your blood sugar with a blood glucose meter or using a continuous glucose monitoring sensor is the only way to know for sure if you have high blood sugar.
Can Hyperglycemia Be Treated
Your doctor may recommend a low-impact exercise program as your first line of defense. If youre already following a fitness plan, they may recommend that you increase your overall level of activity.
Your doctor may also suggest that you reduce glucose-rich food intake. Its important to maintain a balanced diet and stick to healthy food portions. If you arent sure where to begin, your doctor can refer you to a dietician or nutritionist who can help you establish a diet plan.
If these changes dont help lower your high blood sugar, your doctor may prescribe medication. If you have diabetes, your doctor may prescribe oral medications or change the amount or type of insulin youve already been prescribed.
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Get A Handle On Stress
Stress has significant effects on our metabolisms. Mobilizing energy is a critical mechanism of the fight or flight response. During stress, your blood pressure rises, and insulin levels drop. More glucose enters the bloodstream, causing high blood sugar.
Reducing your stress can help lower your blood sugar. Pursuits such as meditation, yoga, and spending time in nature are powerful tools for managing stress.
Risks Of Very High Blood Sugar
Clinically high blood sugar is called hyperglycemia. Its a severe danger, particularly for those who have type 1 diabetes. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition. It happens in patients whose hyperglycemia gets out of control.
Diabetic ketoacidosis happens once a persons blood sugar rises above 240 mg/dL. Eating well, taking medications on time, and monitoring your blood sugars are the best ways to avoid this complication.
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