With the help of modern medicine and newly introduced at home treatments, common medical concerns such as blood sugar levels are now easier to manage than ever. The access to at home treatment and available sources has increased the ability to self-medicate and regularly check in with your health yourself.
There is still heightened concern for blood sugar levels due to the increase and ease of processed food and alcohol access across the world. But, with the right measures and plan, everyone can help avoid their blood sugar level from becoming abnormal.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 1.6 million deaths per year in America are due to diabetes. Fortunately, this figure can be decreased with the help of treatment and easy to manage at home testings.
Today, we will be discussing the top treatment methods, teaching you about blood sugar levels and how to manage them:
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 body’s 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:
How does Blood Sugar Level work?
With a lack of nutrients and food that contain glucose, the blood sugar level will begin to decline. This is known as hypoglycemia.
After blood sugar becomes low, the pancreas releases a peptide hormone called glucagon. When this happens, the glucose that is stored in the body for energy is instructed to release due to the liver. This causes the glucose to turn into glycogen, known as the glycogenesis process. This is what can help a body to regain energy as the readily stored glycogen, in the liver and muscles, will release into the body.
On the other hand, the blood sugar can also rise and become too high which is known as hyperglycemia.
When the body does not produce enough of the insulin hormone, blood sugar levels begin to increase. This is because glucose relies on the insulin hormone to help it absorb into the bloodstream. Usually, this occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin, known as type 1 diabetes, or does not respond to insulin correctly, known as type 2 diabetes.
Eating too many processed foods can also cause your blood sugar level to rise. If there is not enough insulin present in the body, too much bad food can cause your blood sugar level to build up.
For those with a normal blood sugar level, this will be due to eating the right foods and your body being able to produce and respond to insulin.
You may be wondering what exactly causes an imbalance in blood sugar levels, so here is a roundup:
Causes of Blood Sugar Levels
Whilst the liver and muscles produce some glucose, most comes from the foods we eat. Food and drinks that are high in carbohydrates are most impactful on blood sugar level. What we eat provides us most of the nutrients our body needs and sometimes, does not need. That is not to say that food is a major cause of blood sugar level increasing or decreasing too dramatically.
Typically, if a person has health conditions or poor nutrition, this will lead to a spike or decline in blood sugar level. The causes differ from high to low blood sugar levels and are as follows:
High Blood Sugar Level Causes
Several types of diabetes and medical conditions are the primary cause of high blood sugar levels. Most of which are unpreventable issues but are the reason for a spike in high blood sugar. The causes for high blood sugar levels are as follows:
- Type 1 diabetes – type 1 diabetes is a less common condition with around 5 percent of Americans getting it as opposed to more than that having type 2 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes patients, the immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin. Due to this, insulin levels drop and blood sugar levels spike.
- Type 2 diabetes – type 2 diabetes is a more common condition and is less severe than type 1. People with type 2 diabetes simply means the body does not use insulin properly, as opposed to lacking it. The pancreas tries to create more insulin for the glucose to use, but the body does not respond to it properly, called insulin resistance. Therefore, the blood sugar/glucose does not receive enough to keep the levels steady.
- Gestational diabetes – for pregnant women who develop an insulin resistance, this is known as gestational diabetes. This typically goes away after giving birth but can be quite common during the second or third trimester when hormones change and make it hard for insulin to work effectively.
- Cystic fibrosis – some cystic fibrosis patients develop hyperglycemia when using certain steroids or immunosuppressants. These medications can cause a spike in blood sugar levels and symptoms are usually increased thirst and urination. Hyperglycemia is a temporary issue for cystic fibrosis patients when treated.
- Medications – similarly, medications can cause an increase in blood sugar levels. As already mentioned, steroids can be a common cause as well as beta blockers. Both medications can cause the liver to become resistant to insulin, which causes a similar impact as type 1 diabetes.
Causes of low blood sugar levels are very different and are as important to be aware of, as they are in fact easier to control.
Low Blood Sugar Level Causes
Most low blood sugar level causes are preventable and are caused due to a person’s lifestyle and diet habits. Low blood sugar is common among diabetic patients who take medications to increase insulin levels.
- Taking too much medication – taking too much insulin medication can cause a low blood sugar level. These medications are called sulphonylureas or glinides. An overproduction of insulin can cause the body to panic and increase its resistance to insulin, meaning the blood sugar will not absorb properly.
- Skipping or delaying meals – lack of food, either skipping or delaying meals, can cause the insulin levels to drop too low after a while. The balance between food intake and insulin production is important to keep maintained so that they can work together.
- Eating less carbohydrate foods – eating less carbohydrate food such as bread, pasta, cereals, potato and fruits can cause a significant drop in blood sugar, just like skipping meals. If you have a normal blood sugar level and lack carbohydrates, your blood sugar will naturally drop as most sugar/glucose comes from the consumption of carbohydrates.
- Excessive exercise or activity – overworking the body when you are insulin resistant is dangerous. Your muscles need sugar to supply you with energy and when an insulin resistance occurs, the body naturally lacks sugar. Lack of sugar will lead to lack of energy and is damaging for the body and blood sugar. Exercise lowers blood sugar levels in normal patients and is easily recovered with foods. Whereas those with diabetes and an insulin resistance cannot gain back the same energy from food due to the glucose not being able to be broken down properly into energy.
- Binge drinking – excessive alcohol will eventually cause a resistance to insulin. Alcohol causes an increase in insulin secretion, which means too much insulin is being released in comparison to glucose being consumed and therefore will go to waste. Overtime, this will lead to low blood sugar levels.
All of the above causes are risk factors that may or may not be able to be inhibited. They are important to be aware of and act accordingly to keep yourself from getting a too high or too low blood sugar level.
If a person has medical, lifestyle or diet habits that cause irregular blood sugar levels, symptoms will begin to develop along with the drop or spike in blood sugar, and are as follows:
Symptoms of blood Blood Sugar Levels
Symptoms of blood sugar levels differ depending on if it is high or low. To determine which way the blood sugar have moved, the symptoms for each are typically:
|High Blood Sugar Symptoms
|Low Blood Sugar Symptoms
|Headaches and body aches
|Lack of concentration
|Extreme thirst or hunger
|Shaking or trembling
|More than regular need to urinate
|Slow healing wounds
If symptoms are left untreated, more extreme circumstances can happen such as fainting, weakness, disorientation, vomiting and dehydration. When you notice symptoms, usually more than one at one time, it is advised to see a doctor right away.
It is important to get the right treatment so that you can return to a healthy normal blood sugar level and inhibit it from occurring again.
Treatment methods vary from the severity of the blood sugar level, whether it is high or low and if the patient has existing medical conditions, such as diabetes. Here are ways in which blood sugar levels can be treated:
Treatment of Blood Sugar Levels
Managing blood sugar levels is easy to do at home if you know the right measures to take. Treatments are different for high and low blood sugar levels.
Treatment for high blood sugar levels
For those with high blood sugar levels, it is vital to keep track of your blood sugars at home on a daily basis. This can be done with a glucose meter. These test monitors are often provided to diabetic patients so that they can manage their blood sugar levels at home everyday. They are available to purchase online if you are non-diabetic but wish to check on your levels regularly for safety.
Diabetic patients can be prescribed medications to help with insulin levels when their blood sugar is high. Those with type 1 diabetes will be prescribed medication which needs to be taken several times daily. This type of diabetes has no cure but can be managed with the right medication.
Those with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes can treat their high blood sugar with a change in diet or exercise. A healthier balanced diet is usually advised and sometimes, insulin medication is also prescribed if the blood sugar level becomes abnormally higher than the high reading for diabetic patients.
Treatment for low blood sugar levels
For those with low blood sugar levels, management and treatment is a little easier to do yourself. If you find your blood sugar is too low and you notice symptoms, always seek medical attention. They will aid you with what necessary precautions to take if the reading is extremely low.
Most of the time, the following treatment methods are advised to do at home yourself. Having a sugary drink or snack can help increase blood sugar levels and balance out and improve any symptoms. Even a small juice of juice or sweets can improve weakness and similar symptoms.
After you’ve consumed a sugary drink or snack, it is recommended to test your blood sugar level again. If it has increased and you feel better then you should consume a carbohydrate containing meal, such as bread, biscuits or milk. It is advised to eat a small meal to prevent any further drop in blood sugar.
For normal people without diabetes, it is sometimes advised to consume daily supplements that are beneficial for increasing insulin sensitivity and balancing your blood, its sugars and pressures. You can seek medical advice for those from a doctor. Some options may include supplements such as Garcinia Cambogia, which has shown results for increasing insulin sensitivity.
It is advised to seek medical help if you have concerns or consistent symptoms. Never leave the symptoms untreated as symptoms can worsen and cause more damage. It is advised for anyone overweight, especially those over 40 years old, should get a diabetes test. This is to take precautions and prevent you from having an abnormal blood sugar level.
You may be wondering exactly how you can read and calculate your blood sugar level, as it advised to do so for both treatments. If you wish to calculate your blood sugar level, here is how to do so:
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:
|Type 1 diabetes:Before mealsAfter meals
4 – 7 mmol/L5 – 9 mmol/L
5 – 7 mmol/L4 – 7 mmol/L
|Type 2 diabetes:Before mealsAfter meals
4 – 7 mmol/L<8.5 mmol/L
4 – 7 mmol/L<8.5 mmol/L
|Gestational diabetes:FastingAfter meals
<5.3 mmol/L<7.8 mmol/L
<5.3 mmol/L<7.8 mmol/L
|Non-diabetic:Before mealsAfter meals
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.
If left untreated or a person does not check their blood sugar levels regularly and the level comes dangerous, consequences can come of that:
Consequences of Blood Sugar Levels
Whilst most symptoms of low and high blood sugar levels are mild, they can worsen if left untreated and sometimes have long term consequences and/or complications. Overtime, a high blood sugar level is what can cause consequences. Lack of treatment can cause severe damage to the blood vessels and lead to complications such as:
- Heart attack
- Kidney disease or failure
- Damage to the eyes and/or loss of vision
- Nerve problems in the feet leading to infections
To avoid long term consequences and complications, it is advised to take all precautionary measures and treat your blood sugar level so that it can be maintained at your ideal reading. So do so, follow all treatment methods, stay on track with checking your level daily and seeking help if symptoms persist.
If you have any more questions, here are a few of the most frequently asked questions which may answer your concerns:
How can I check my blood sugar level without a meter?
There are ways in which you can check blood sugar level without the traditional meter method, but do note that they are not as accurate. A device called the continuous glucose monitoring pump is like an insulin pump, which can help you find patterns and trends in your sugar levels. These non-prick methods use electromagnetic waves to read glucose in the body.
When should I go to the hospital for blood sugar?
Certain symptoms of blood sugar levels signal when you should seek medical help. Typically, if you feel extremely fatigued, notice increased thirst and urination, or weight loss, you should seek help right away. These symptoms can signify an abnormal blood sugar level and/or other health conditions.
A routine health check is also advised, even if you do not show any symptoms.
How does squeezing your finger affect blood sugar?
According to research from Diabetic Care, squeezing your finger before testing your blood sugar levels can interfere with the results. It can lower your reading as opposed to increasing it or keeping it the same. It is advised to avoid squeezing your finger so that you can get an accurate reading.
How do I check my blood sugar?
Checking your blood sugar is simple and can be done at home with the right equipment. The most traditional and effective way of doing so is with a glucose meter. You wash your hands to wash away germs, prick your finger with a needle, apply the blood from the pricked finger to a test strip and insert it into the machine. Your blood sugar level will appear on the meters display.
Alternatively, there are a few modern methods that have been developed. They show results but are considered not to be as accurate as glucose meters.
What foods bring down blood sugar?
There are a number of natural foods that help you lower and control your blood sugar, including brown bread, nuts, legumes, fatty fish, garlic, unsweetened yogurt, sweet potatoes, yams, and oatmeal, just to name a few.
What drink lowers blood sugar?
Several natural foods that help you lower and control your blood sugar include seltzer water (a great, fizzy alternative for soda), water, green tea, unsweetened coffee, vegetable juice, low fat milk, milk alternatives (almond, rice, soy, oat, coconut), sugar-free lemonade and kombucha.
Want to hear our thoughts on blood sugar levels? Let’s jump into the conclusion:
If a person has diabetes, it is more challenging to manage blood sugar levels as it is one of the main issues they have to deal with. It is most common for low or high blood sugar levels to be present in a diabetic patient. However, it can happen to those without diabetes.
To improve and maintain an ideal blood sugar level, for diabetic and nondiabetic patients, it is advised to get regular health checks, check in on your levels daily, get the right treatment and follow a balanced diet and exercise plan. These approaches can help a person avoid low and high blood sugar levels and slow down the progression, or development, of diabetes.
Control your blood sugar with the methods and guidelines above. Following the guidelines will not only benefit you now, but it will also inhibit any blood sugar level concerns in the future. You can use this as a guide to help with future concerns for yourself and peers. If you have any feedback or more questions, please feel free to share them with us.