Senior woman with glucometer checking blood sugar level at home. Diabetes, health care concept

Why Blood Glucose Matters

Unless you’re a medical professional, you might not know much about blood glucose and why it matters for your body. As it turns out, this is a very important concept to understand as blood glucose levels that are too low or too high can cause irreversible damage to your body over time. These conditions require testing and diagnosis from a health care professional along with long-term maintenance and treatment in order to keep your body functioning properly. While this might seem like a lot, technology has really advanced in recent decades to make this less of a burden for patients and quick, easy, and painless.

What Is Blood Glucose?

Blood glucose is also known as blood sugar and it comes from carbohydrates consumed through food. After eating, carbohydrates and glucose are broken down by your body and converted to energy to help you get through the day and complete basic tasks. However, your cells cannot convert glucose into energy on their own – they require the assistance of a hormone called insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and helps to process glucose by attaching to cells and signaling them to absorb glucose in the bloodstream. Once all of the cells have absorbed enough glucose for energy purposes, insulin also helps direct the extra glucose leftover in the bloodstream for storage in other areas of your body like your liver and muscles. Your body can then use these reserves for energy the next time you need it – like between meals. 

How Does Blood Glucose Affect Your Body?

Obviously, blood glucose is a key factor in a healthy body since it provides us with energy. However, sometimes we deal with blood glucose levels that are too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). Some common signs of hyperglycemia include dry mouth, frequent urination, increased thirst, fatigue, lightheadedness, headache, and nausea. Some common signs of hypoglycemia include paleness, sweating, heart palpitations, dizziness, and tremors. Severely low or incredibly high levels of blood glucose can cause damage to the body if not treated properly. Severe hypoglycemia can cause seizures or loss of consciousness. Severe hyperglycemia can cause kidney disease, vision loss, and nerve damage.

How Is Blood Glucose Measured?

All of those possible effects sound really scary – so what can you do to avoid them? Thankfully, there are ways to measure your blood glucose on a regular basis to make sure that the levels are within range. By testing your blood through a device, you are able to see your current blood glucose level. Normal blood glucose levels are less than 100 mg/dL after not eating for eight hours and they are less than 140 mg/dL two hours after eating.

What Are Diseases Related to Blood Glucose?

People who have certain diseases are unable to produce or use insulin properly to control their blood sugar on a consistent basis. The most common diseases related to blood glucose are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes often gets pushed into one category but the two types are actually extremely different and it’s important to understand each one. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce enough insulin on its own because the immune system mistakenly attacks these pancreatic cells thinking that they are pathogens that need to be killed. It commonly develops and is diagnosed in children and teenagers and is something that they will have to manage for the rest of their lives. Type 2 diabetes usually develops later on in life and occurs when the body is unable to utilize the insulin that it produces. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and can be caused by obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet, and genetic factors.

How to Maintain Healthy Blood Glucose Levels?

People who have either type of diabetes have to maintain healthy blood glucose levels in order to function. One common method is to use a blood glucose meter that is able to quickly test the levels of glucose in the blood to determine whether or not you need to supplement insulin. It’s important to do this several times a day if needed along with eating regular healthy meals and avoiding excess sugars in food and drinks. A healthy blood glucose range for someone with diabetes is between 70 and 130 mg/dL before eating. With the proper diligence, maintenance, and lifestyle, it’s possible to manage this with the help of a blood glucose meter and man-made insulin.

Diabetes might seem like a big deal – and it is. However, it’s also important to remember that it’s not the end of the world and it’s totally manageable. It might take some time to get used to your new routine, but you will get the hang of it quickly and it will just become second-nature to you. With your diligence and the coordination of your doctor, you can effectively manage your diabetes and continue to live a fulfilling life.