What are the Normal Blood Sugar Levels

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Overview

Glucose, or sugar, in the bloodstream comes from the foods that you eat. Blood sugar works in conjunction with insulin produced from the pancreas to provide the body’s cells with the energy they need to survive. Normal blood sugar levels refer to the amount of sugar in the blood that is appropriate for normal functioning of the human body. Blood sugar levels may fluctuate throughout the day in response to normal activities like exercise or eating a meal.

Blood Sugar Levels and Diabetes

Blood sugar levels of between 70 mg/dl and 120 mg/dl are considered normal.As blood glucose levels increase in the bloodstream, the pancreas produces insulin to allow them to be absorbed by the body, keeping the amount of sugar within normal ranges. The levels generally increase after eating a meal due to the intake of food and its conversion to glucose. Two hours after a meal, a blood glucose range between 70 to 145 mg/dl is considered normal.

A fasting glucose test is often done to evaluate for the presence of diabetes. If the body’s response to insulin is functioning well, the level of sugar in the blood is expected to return to its expected normal value after eight hours of fasting. The normal range for fasting glucose is within 70 to 100 mg/dl. These values may differ depending on the tests and reagents used in the laboratory.

People with diabetes may either have decreased insulin production or defects in how their body responds to the presence of insulin. Medication is usually needed to supplement or replace insulin to help blood sugar levels to remain within a normal range. When blood sugar levels remain uncontrolled over time, development of complications, like damage to the nerves, eyes and kidneys may eventually occur.

Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia in Diabetics

People with uncontrolled diabetes have elevated glucose levels in their bloodstream, known as hyperglycemia. This can be due to several factors including taking the wrong dose of medication, illness, stress or eating too many carbohydrates or sugar. When hyperglycemia happens, patients may manifest with different symptoms such as frequent urge to urinate, frequent thirst and hunger. In many cases, their urine shows a high sugar content

Some patients with diabetes may also experience low or decreased amount of glucose in their circulation. Blood sugar levels below 70 mg/dl indicate hypoglycemia.It is often important for diabetics to know the symptoms of hypoglycemia and be ready to treat it quickly. If not treated immediately, blood sugar levels can continue to decrease, leading to unconsciousness, seizures or coma. Symptoms include headaches, paleness, clumsiness, dizziness, hunger, confusion, sweating and sudden behavioral changes. The fastest way to return their normal blood sugar levels when hypoglycemia occurs is by taking some form of sugar, such as the glucose tablets or juice, followed by protein and carbohydrates.

References

American Diabetes Association: Checking Your Blood Glucose

NetDoctor: Blood Glucose Levels

WebMD: Blood Glucose