Managing blood sugar is important for all people, but it's especially critical for those who have prediabetes or diabetes. Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes and don't even know it. Managing your blood sugar can be difficult because so many things affect the balance of glucose in your body.
This blog post will talk about managing high levels of glucose in your bloodstream and all of the different ways you can keep your blood sugar under control.
What Is Blood Sugar And Why Does It Matter?
Blood sugar is the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood. Glucose comes directly from what you eat and indirectly from carbohydrates that are broken down to form glucose during digestion. Consequently, your pancreas controls the blood glucose levels in your body by producing insulin or releasing it into the bloodstream when needed. Insulin then regulates how much glucose should be absorbed by individual cells throughout your body; without this regulation, too much excess sugar would build up in your system, causing problems like a hyperglycemic shock which can result in coma or even death.
People with diabetes suffer because their bodies either don't produce enough insulin (type I), they fail to respond properly to the insulin their body produces (type II), or both types occur at once, making managing blood sugars difficult.
Ways to Measure Your Glucose Level
There are a few different ways to measure blood sugar. You can check blood sugar levels using the ff:
- Blood glucose meters – the most common way to do a blood sugar test is by pricking yourself with a lancing device and putting the resulting drop on a disposable strip that's inserted into the meter (fingers work fine too)
- Continuous glucose monitor - this monitor is typically used by people with diabetes who are trying to get pregnant, have problems with blood sugar controls, or are on dialysis. It requires a small sensor inserted under the skin and worn for up to ten days before it needs replacing.
- Blood glucose test strips – these can be bought at most pharmacies without a prescription.
When Should I Check My Blood Sugar Level?
Doctors recommend checking your blood sugar level before and after meals, as well as two hours after eating. If you have diabetes, it's important to check more often because even if you take medication regularly, there is still a chance that something may affect blood sugar levels, resulting in an increase or decrease in the insulin in your body.
Signs of High Blood Sugar
High blood sugar is called hyperglycemia and is a serious medical issue that needs immediate attention because it can lead to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, which is a build-up of acid in your blood that can cause coma or even death.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, it's important to get your blood sugar tested immediately:
- Frequent urination
- Dry mouth
- Fruity breath odor (due to the flood of ketones in your bloodstream, which is a sign that you're not getting enough insulin or your body isn't responding properly)
- More thirsty than usual (for no obvious reason even though you just drank plenty of water because excess glucose has entered into cells and triggered them to pull extra fluid from outside sources)
- Extreme fatigue and muscle pain (because your cells can no longer use glucose for fuel, they're running on the glycerol backbone of fatty acids instead)
- Blurred vision or other vision problems (from the excess sugar in your bloodstream making it difficult for fluid to pass through small capillaries)
Diabetes management is done to prevent high blood sugar levels, which, if left untreated over a long period of time, can cause significant damage to your internal organs.
If you experience any of these symptoms, consult with a healthcare professional immediately.
Signs of Low Blood Sugar (hypoglycemia)
On the other hand, low blood sugar is called hypoglycemia, and it's also a serious medical issue as it can lead to seizures and coma if not treated immediately. Symptoms include:
- Shakiness or tremors
- Cold sweats
- Very sweaty hands and feet
- Weakness/tiredness that doesn't go away after eating something sweet to raise blood sugar levels
- Confusion or feeling foggy-headed
- Irritability or mood changes (for example, becoming angry for no reason)
- Seizures/loss of consciousness
- Trouble walking
If you are managing diabetes or are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you should consult with health professionals.
What is the best diabetes treatment plan?
The best diabetes treatment plan is one that works for you and your lifestyle in which you and your healthcare provider have discussed. Diabetes control starts with a diabetes meal plan which involves a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, or high fiber carbohydrates like beans and lentils.
You should also drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated without having caffeine which acts as a diuretic (makes you urinate more than usual). Make sure you get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Because physical activity increases insulin sensitivity, cells can use glucose instead of being stored as fat. If blood sugar levels are still unbalanced even after making these changes, diabetes medicines may need to be started or changed.
Tips for Managing Your Blood Sugar Levels
You can do many simple things to manage your blood sugar levels that don't involve medication or expensive equipment. Here are some helpful tips:
- Check your blood sugar levels regularly and record the results in a logbook or on an app like Glooko.
- Make sure you eat at regular times throughout the day instead of going long periods without food because this can cause dramatic swings in glucose and insulin production, resulting in high/low blood sugar.
- Check with your health care team before starting any new exercise regimen because this can affect your insulin needs.
- If you have hypoglycemia, carry hard candy or glucose tablets with you at all times in case of emergency so blood sugar levels can be brought back to normal quickly.
- Prepare a meal plan and choose food with lower calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt.
- Be physically active.
- Drink water and avoid sugar-sweetened beverages
- Limit your intake of alcoholic drinks.
- Check your blood pressure regularly.
- Keep your cholesterol levels in check.
- Check your feet daily to find any sores, blisters, or signs of infection.
- See a doctor if you have an injury that doesn't heal within two weeks.
- Find the time each day for relaxation and stress management.
- Get plenty of sleep every night (at least seven hours).
Diabetes is a significant risk factor for heart attack, heart disease, stroke, kidney problems, blindness, amputation, and other health problems.
There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be managed with a healthy lifestyle and medications if necessary. Make sure to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly to detect any changes early, so you can take action before things get worse.
Work with Your Health Care Team
For people with diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends working closely with your doctor and a diabetes educator to develop a diabetes management plan. A team of health professionals can help you manage your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and keep your blood sugar levels in check.
A health care team can also help you set realistic goals and identify ways to prevent diabetic complications. They are also there to support you in other aspects of your physical health and provide emotional support during this challenging time in your life.
- People with type I diabetes need insulin injections at least once daily for survival.
- People who have type II must take medication that keeps their glucose from spiking too high after they eat or check their blood sugar throughout the day to ensure it stays within its target range (70-130 mg/dL).
As for those without diabetes, you still need to monitor your blood sugar regularly as well, especially if you are older than 40 or if you have a medical condition that puts you at an increased risk for developing a disease.