Blood sugar level is the amount of sugar or glucose in the blood. Although constantly changing, blood sugar levels need to be kept within normal limits so that there are no disturbances in the body.
Blood sugar levels are influenced by nutritional intake from food or drinks, especially carbohydrates, as well as the amount of insulin and the sensitivity of the body’s cells to insulin. Blood sugar levels that are too high or too low will have a negative impact on health, both in the short and long term.
What Happens If Blood Sugar Is Too High?
Blood sugar levels are said to be too high if they exceed 200 mg/dL. The medical term for blood sugar levels that are too high is hyperglycemia.
Hyperglycemia can occur when the body does not have enough insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas. Insulin functions to spread sugar from the blood to all body cells so that it can be processed into energy.
High blood sugar can also occur when the body’s cells are not sensitive to insulin, so sugar from the blood cannot enter the cells for processing.
High blood sugar is often experienced by diabetics who do not lead a healthy lifestyle, such as eating too much, not exercising enough, or forgetting to take diabetes medication or insulin. In addition, high blood sugar in diabetics can also be triggered by stress, infection, or taking certain medications.
Normal people who do not have diabetes can also develop hyperglycemia, especially if they are seriously ill. Signs you have blood sugar levels that are too high are feeling tired, eating very high, losing weight, feeling thirsty, and urinating frequently.
If blood sugar levels reach 350 mg/dL or more, symptoms that can appear are extreme thirst, blurred vision, dizziness, restlessness, and loss of consciousness. In addition, the skin will look red, dry, and feel hot.
If not treated immediately, blood sugar levels that are too high can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar hyperglycemia syndrome, which can be fatal.
In addition, high blood sugar levels in the long term without treatment can increase the risk of tooth and gum infections, skin problems, osteoporosis, kidney failure, nerve damage, blindness, and cardiovascular disease (heart and blood vessels).
What Happens If Blood Sugar Is Too Low?
Blood sugar is too low or hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels are below 70 mg/dL. This condition is also common in people with diabetes, which is a side effect of the antidiabetic drugs they take. Antidiabetic drugs, especially insulin, can lower blood sugar levels excessively.
People with type 1 diabetes do not have enough insulin. Therefore, additional insulin is needed from the outside which is usually in the form of injections. But if the dose is too high, insulin can make blood sugar drop drastically.
In people with diabetes, hypoglycemia can occur if the use of insulin or antidiabetic drugs is not accompanied by adequate food intake. Excessive exercise can also trigger this condition.
Not only diabetics, people who do not have diabetes can also experience hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Some of the causes are:
- Drinking too much alcohol.
- Suffering from certain diseases, such as hepatitis, anorexia nervosa, or insulinoma.
- Lack of certain hormones.
- Taking certain drugs, such as quinine.
- Accidentally taking other people’s antidiabetic drugs.
If blood sugar levels are low, the body will feel weak and powerless. Other symptoms that you can experience are hunger, cold sweats, pale skin, palpitations, tingling in the mouth area, restlessness, and irritability.
While the symptoms that you will experience when blood sugar levels are too low (below 40 mg/dL), include:
- Talk rambling
- Difficult to concentrate
- Unable to stand or walk
- Muscle twitch
If left untreated, this condition can lead to stroke, coma, and even death.
Let’s Check Your Blood Sugar
Blood sugar tests are generally recommended for people who have diabetes symptoms, such as frequent thirst, frequent urination, and frequent hunger. In addition, this test can also be recommended for people who have a family history of diabetes.
The way to find out blood sugar levels is to do a blood test. This test is useful for monitoring blood sugar levels in your body, so it doesn’t go out of normal limits.
Blood sugar tests can be done at home using a glucometer. Blood samples for this examination are taken by pricking the fingertips using a special needle.
You can also do a blood sugar test at the hospital. There are several types of blood sugar tests that can be done:
Fasting blood sugar test
You are required to fast for eight hours before taking the blood sample. This test is often used to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes.
Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)
In this test you will be given a certain amount of glucose, and two hours later, your blood sugar level will be checked.
Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) or glycohemoglobin . test
This test is done to determine blood sugar levels in red blood cells. The HbA1c test results can provide information about your sugar levels over the past 2-3 months.
This test makes it easier for the doctor to adjust the dose and type of antidiabetic medication, if needed. You do not need to undergo any special preparation to perform this test.
Blood sugar test when
This test can be done at any time and does not require special preparation. However, regular blood sugar tests cannot be used to diagnose diabetes.
This examination is only used to monitor blood sugar fluctuations in diabetics, or to see blood sugar levels in patients with certain conditions, such as weakness or fainting.
If your blood sugar test results are high, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have diabetes. It could be that this condition is the influence of the food or drink you have just consumed.
If your blood sugar test results show low levels, but you don’t feel weak or dizzy, there may be an error with the test equipment or technique. Therefore, you need to discuss the results of this examination again with your doctor.
It is highly recommended to consult with your doctor first about what tests are suitable for you to undergo. Also ask your doctor about the risks or other things related to the test.
Then What Are Normal Blood Sugar Levels?
Normal blood sugar levels are not always the same, depending on when the test is done, after or before eating. The following are limits for normal blood sugar levels, but have different standards.
Blood sugar test after eating
If the blood sugar test is done two hours after eating, the normal blood sugar level is less than 140 mg/dL or 7.8 mmol/L. This limitation applies to persons under 50 years of age.
For people aged 50-60 years, the normal level is less than 150 mg/dL or 8.3 mmol/L. Whereas in people aged 60 years and over, normal blood sugar levels are 160 mg/dL or 8.9 mmol/L.
Blood sugar test after fasting
If the blood sugar test is done after fasting, the normal blood sugar level should be less or equal to 100 mg/dL or 5.6 mmol/L.
Random blood sugar test
If the blood sugar test is done randomly (time blood sugar test), then the results cannot be compared, depending on when the test was carried out and what was consumed before the test.
In general, a normal blood sugar level is 80-120 mg/dL or 4.4-6.6 mmol/L, if the test is taken before eating or after waking up. Meanwhile, if the test is done before bed, the normal limit is 100-140 mg/dL or 5.5-7.7 mmol/L.
Hemoglobin test for blood sugar
On the hemoglobin test for blood sugar (HbA1c), the normal level is less than or about 7 percent.
But you need to remember, the limits used by each laboratory may be different, depending on the equipment used. So, use the benchmarks provided by the laboratory where you check blood sugar.
In addition, make sure you also record the date of the test and the results, as well as what you consumed and the activities you did before taking the test.
Normal blood sugar results do not always indicate that you are not at risk for diabetes. To be sure, you are still advised to consult the results of your blood sugar test with your doctor, especially if you have symptoms of diabetes or are at risk for developing diabetes.
Blood sugar checks should be done wisely and according to needs. Take a blood sugar check according to the doctor’s advice and apply a healthy lifestyle to prevent the bad effects of high or low blood sugar levels.