Blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, refers to the concentration of sugar or glucose in the blood of a human or animal. It enters the body through the consumption of carbohydrates, and is processed by insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps the cells of the body utilize the glucose.
Blood sugar levels often increase after meals, and this increase tells the pancreas to release insulin to help regulate your blood glucose levels.
Blood sugar levels are measured by testing the blood; normal fasting blood glucose levels are between 70-100 milligrams per deciliter or 3.9-5.5 mmol/L. These levels are lowest in the morning, prior to any meals, and are highest after eating.
Two conditions can result from abnormal glucose levels in the blood. Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar indicates the body’s inability to produce the insulin needed to properly process glucose. The opposite condition of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, may be indicative of too much insulin released into the bloodstream, which uses up the glucose too quickly.
Hypoglycemia also occurs when glucose is released into the bloodstream too slowly. Hypoglycemia may also indicate the presence of an insulinoma, or a tumor that produces too much insulin.
Symptoms of Abnormal Blood Sugar Levels
Both high and low blood glucose levels should be avoided. Low blood sugar causes cold sweats, convulsions, blurred vision, increased heart rate, headaches, trembling, weakness of the muscles or numbness and lack of clarity when thinking.
Low blood sugar causes loss of consciousness or insulin shock and seizures, which could then result into permanent damage to the nervous system. On the other hand, high blood sugar causes damage to the eyes, nerves, blood vessels and kidneys and may be indicative of diabetes.
Some of the symptoms that high blood sugar causes are dryness of the mouth, thirst, frequent urination, especially during the night, drowsiness, weight loss, or increase appetite. High blood sugar causes diabetes mellitus, or literally, “sweet urine”, due to the spillage of glucose into the urine.
Also, it was found that increased blood sugar causes erectile dysfunction and an increased risk of dying from heart disease. While it was found that on a temporary basis, too little glucose is more dangerous than too much glucose, both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia can result in a coma.
Abnormal Blood Sugar Treatment
A quick fix for low blood glucose levels is to ingest something that has approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates. You can eat several pieces of hard candies or a sugar pill, or drink sugar water, which is 1 tablespoon of sugar dissolved in water to raise your blood glucose levels.
People with low blood sugar levels can also drink a can of soda or juice to pump up their glucose levels. Those with severe hypoglycemia may be treated using glucose injections. People who have high levels of glucose in their blood are often diagnosed with diabetes.
In these cases, the irregularity in the blood sugar levels may be corrected by regular testing to monitor blood glucose levels, making changes in the diet to cut out food that has too many carbohydrates or sugars, or the use of medication.
The most common form of medication for diabetics is the injection of insulin to regulate the body’s sugar levels. Doctors may also prescribe drugs such as alpha-glucosidase inhibitors that are designed to lower blood glucose levels. As with many diseases, prevention is better than a cure.
The development of good habits, such as maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise, can result in normal blood sugar levels. Glucose levels may also be regulated using medication or insulin therapy.