Why it’s important to keep track of your glucose levels
If you suffer from diabetes or are experiencing certain symptoms, it's important to check your blood sugar levels.
Glucose is a carbohydrate, and also a monosaccharide, which essentially means that is made of one sugar. Other monosaccharides include fructose, galactose and ribose. Some foods rich in glucose are bread, dairy products and fruits. As it happens with fat, your body uses glucose as a source of fuel in the form of carbohydrates.
This makes glucose an important nutrient for your body, but ingesting too much of it, like with some other nutrients, can have undesired effects. Sometimes people may have difficulties processing glucose, like when you suffer from diabetes.
How are blood sugar levels measured?
Blood sugar levels tend to naturally fluctuate throughout the day in both diabetic and non diabetic patients, although they tend to vary more in the former. What “normal” blood sugar levels look like differs depending on whether you were diagnosed or not.
One common way to test your blood sugar level is doing a blood glucose test, which can be easily found on pharmacies for at-home testing. They often come in the form of finger-prick monitoring kits or continuous glucose monitors. These devices are familiar to those living with diabetes, as they need to keep a log on their glucose levels.
If you haven’t been formally diagnosed but your doctor thinks you may be at risk, a glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test may be conducted. Per the Mayo Clinic, this is a blood test that shows your average blood sugar level for the last two to three months, and it doesn’t require fasting.
What happens when you have high blood sugar?
Hyperglycaemia is the medical term to describe a situation in which glucose levels in blood are higher than they should. It’s a common phenomenon among those living with diabetes, both type 1 and 2. However, it can also affect people who do not suffer from this condition but are experiencing major illness, such as a severe infection, or recovering from a stroke.
As the British National Health System explains, most people suffering from diabetes will experience hyperglycaemia at some point in their lives. While mild episodes that appear from time to time are not necessarily a cause of concern under treatment, having high blood sugar levels for a prolonged period of time may result in more serious consequences and it’s advised to seek medical advice.
The NHS cites several common symptoms for hyperglycaemia, although sometimes this may be unapparent until the blood sugar levels are very high. These symptoms include:
- Increase in thirst and dry mouth
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Tummy pain
- Recurrent infections affecting your bladder an skin, as well as thrush.
- Feeling sick
What are the causes behind blood sugar?
Hyperglycaemia is strongly linked to diabetes, but there can be other conditions causing this phenomenon. According to the American Diabetes Association, for diabetic patients the causes can be:
- In case you have type 1 diabetes, not receiving enough insulin
- In case you have type 2 diabetes, the insulin you administer may be enough, but not as effective as it should.
- You have eaten more or exercised less than planned.
- An illness, like the flu or a cold.
- A stressful situation in your personal life, such as conflict with your family, friends or partner.
- The “dawn phenomenon”, which is a daily spike in hormones around 4:00 AM to 5:00 AM.
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