Blood sugar levels indicate the amount of glucose present in your bloodstream, and they can have a significant impact on your energy levels, mood and long-term health outcomes.
In this blog post, we will look at blood sugar levels in general, covering everything from what they are and why they matter to how to test and manage them effectively.
What are Blood Sugar Levels?
Blood sugar levels refer to the concentration of glucose in your bloodstream. Glucose is a type of sugar that comes from the food we eat and is the primary source of energy for your body.
After you eat, your digestive system breaks down the carbohydrates into glucose, which then enters your bloodstream.
Your body’s ability to maintain stable blood sugar levels is crucial for your overall health. When they are too high or too low, they can lead to a host of health issues, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Why Do Blood Sugar Levels Matter?
They matter because they are essential for your overall health and well-being. Let’s explain why.
When your blood sugar levels are too high, they can lead to a condition called hyperglycemia, which can cause a host of symptoms, such as:
On the other hand, when your blood sugar levels are too low, they can lead to a condition called hypoglycemia, which can cause symptoms such as:
In extreme cases, hypoglycemia can lead to seizures, diabetic coma and even death.
A proper management of your blood glucose levels are, therefore, tied to avoiding these uncomfortable symptoms and avoidable fatalities.
This is why it is imperative to maintain your blood glucose levels.
How to Test Your Glucose Levels?
Considering the possibility that you are already a diabetic or else suffering from low glucose levels, it is important to maintain your blood sugar levels at stable levels.
It is here comes the aid of a home blood glucose meter, a critical component in the management of your blood glucose levels.
The following list explains this and other testing methods.
Blood Glucose Meters
Blood glucose meters are small devices that are used to measure the concentration of glucose in a drop of your blood. It involves pricking your finger to get it, which is then placed on a test strip and inserted into a glucose meter to get you a reading.
To ensure accuracy, it is important to use high-quality test strips and follow the instructions that come with your meter carefully. You are also advised to compare your meter readings with your laboratory tests periodically to ensure that your meter is giving you accurate results.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM)
A continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system functions by using a small sensor that is inserted beneath your skin, typically in your belly or arm. The sensor measures the level of glucose in the fluid between the cells, known as interstitial glucose, every few minutes.
The sensor is connected to a transmitter that wirelessly sends the glucose readings to a monitor. The monitor can be a separate device that you carry in your pocket or purse or it can be part of an insulin pump.
Some CGM systems can also send the glucose information directly to a smartphone or tablet for convenient and easy access.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)
This test involves drinking a sugary drink and then having your blood drawn to measure your blood glucose levels.
It is commonly used to diagnose type 2 diabetes and other conditions that affect blood glucose levels.
Glycated Hemoglobin (A1C) Test
This test measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 2-3 months by measuring the amount of glucose that is attached to hemoglobin in your red blood cells.
Urine tests can be used to measure blood sugar levels, especially for diagnosing type 1 diabetes.
But urine tests are not as accurate as your blood tests, and are not always used for your routine monitoring.
How to Manage Your Blood Glucose Levels?
There are many ways in which you can manage your blood sugar levels, and here is a list of some of them.
Eat a balanced diet: A balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein can help you manage your blood glucose levels.
Exercise regularly: Exercise can help regulate your blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity and improving glucose uptake in the muscles.
Monitor blood sugar levels: Regularly monitoring your blood glucose levels can help you identify patterns and adjust your diet and medication as and when required.
Take medication: Medications can be an important part of managing your blood sugar levels, especially if you’re diabetic. Take them only on the advice of your doctor, and don’t self-medicate.
Manage stress: Stress can cause your blood glucose levels to fluctuate, so stress-management is highly recommended for you. You can try relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga to help you manage your blood glucose levels.
It is very imperative on your part to monitor your blood sugar levels, especially if you’re diabetic or insulin resistant.
There are many ways in which you can monitor your blood glucose levels. These include self-monitoring with a blood glucose meter and continuous glucose monitoring devices.
The onus is on you to bring out modifications to your lifestyle to manage your blood sugar levels.. These include eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and taking your prescribed medications as instructed.
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Sources: CDC, WebMD (1, 2), Diabetes UK, NIDDK.