Drops or spikes in blood sugar levels carry health risks which can be life threatening if left untreated. Because of this health risk, diabetics must monitor their blood sugar levels. You should also be aware of the symptoms which indicate a deviation from normal blood glucose such as shakiness, confusion or sweating.
How frequently you monitor your blood depends in part on how your condition is being treated. For example, the American Diabetes Association recommends monitoring three or more times a day if your diabetes is controlled with insulin injections or pump therapy. Other individuals may monitor blood sugar less often.
Normal Blood Sugar
Your blood sugar levels vary in relationship to your eating patterns. For example, the expected blood glucose levels in home monitoring before meals will fall with a range of 70 to 130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). After eating, your body begins to metabolize food, releasing sugar into your blood. Your blood sugar will rise to upward of 180 mg/dL, the threshold for blood glucose for diabetic patients.
Your doctor will work with you to set goals for your diabetes management. In addition to self-monitoring, your doctor may also assess your average glycemia through the A1C test. This blood test measures glycated hemoglobin or the concentration of hemoglobin bonded with glucose. It provides an indication of the progress of your home monitoring.
The results are given as a percentage, with the goal being under 7 percent. The figure is also reported as mg/dL, the same type of figure which your home monitoring system provides you.
Changes in Blood Glucose Levels
Several things can impact blood sugar levels. Your medication, naturally, can cause changes including hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. If you skip meals, you can also expect a drop. Other factors such as strenuous exercise can increase the demand for sugar, leading to a reduction of blood sugar. Your plan must take into account these effects on expected blood glucose levels in home monitoring.
You can detect hypoglycemia from blood sugar when your level falls below 70 mg/dL. At this point, you may begin to experience the symptoms associated with low blood sugar such as dizziness or weakness. This condition can also occur while you sleep, causing nightmares or night sweats.
Conversely, a reading over 200 mg/dL indicates hyperglycemia or high blood sugar. At this point, you may have increased thirst, accompanied by frequent urination and headache. Either scenario is dangerous, requiring immediate attention. By monitoring your blood sugar at home, you can help avoid these health risks.
Diabetes management is a lifetime task for the diagnosed diabetic patient. Self-monitoring is an essential component of your plan which can help you avoid the complications of this chronic health condition.
American Diabetes Association. Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2008. Diabetes Care, January 2008; 31, Supplement 1 S12-S54.
Laboratory Tests Online: A1c and eAG labtestsonline.org
Mayo Clinic: Hyperglycemia in Diabetes mayoclinic.com
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Hypoglycemia diabetes.niddk.nih.gov
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