Blood sugar levels and their significance

The food you eat is broken down inside your body to release glucose. Blood sugar level refers to the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. The insulin hormone secreted by the beta cells of the pancreas regulates blood glucose levels. It is essential to keep your sugar levels in the normal range to prevent chronic conditions associated with vital organs like the heart and kidneys.

Regular blood sugar monitoring helps track glucose volumes in your blood and take necessary action. This article discusses normal human body sugar levels and provides tips to avoid crossing into the dangerous range.

Terms you see in a blood sugar chart

The only way to know whether your blood glucose range is within the normal human body sugar levels is to perform a glucose test. Here are some terms with which should be familiar:

  • Fasting blood sugar
    It means the amount of glucose in the bloodstream after an overnight fast (not eating or drinking anything except water for at least eight hours).
  • Postprandial blood sugar
    It is the glucose concentration in the bloodstream for up to four hours after consuming a meal. This value is crucial to understand how your body responds to sugar after a meal.
  • HbA1c levels
    Also known as the glycated haemoglobin test, it measures the average blood glucose levels for the past two to three months. The test estimates the amount of blood sugar attached to your haemoglobin.

What happens to your sugar levels if you have diabetes?

The body becomes insulin-resistant in the case of diabetes. There is low glucose absorption due to insulin deficiency, resulting in high blood glucose volumes. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), there is an acceptable range of blood sugar readings for a person with diabetes. What is a dangerous level of blood sugar, then? It is the value of blood glucose levels beyond the acceptable range, increasing the risk of life-threatening complications. Track your blood sugar regularly to avoid reaching such dangerous levels.

The standard range of blood sugar levels

The following tables show the ideal range of normal human body sugar levels as approved by the ADA.

For a person without diabetes

Fasting 70-99 mg/dL
Postprandial (2 hours after a meal) Less than 140 mg/dL
HbA1c Less than 5.7%

For a person with diabetes

Fasting 80-130 mg/dL
Postprandial (2 hours after a meal) Less than 180 mg/dL
HbA1c Less than 7%

What is random blood sugar testing?

Through this test, doctors measure the amount of glucose in your bloodstream at any time. It determines your likelihood of having diabetes and may be used as a determiner to consider if additional testing is required. This test is recommended if you show symptoms of diabetes which include frequent urination, extreme thirst, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and blurred vision. If the readings are found to be beyond the normal human body sugar levels, additional tests may be recommended.

Reasons for fluctuating blood sugar levels

While measuring your blood sugar a couple of times during the day, you may observe differences in the readings. The reasons for these fluctuations are:

  • Choice of food
  • Physical exertion
  • Incorrect dosage of medicines
  • Dehydration
  • Injury or infection
  • Stress
  • Hormonal imbalance

Hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia

High blood sugar or hyperglycemia occurs when the blood glucose levels rise above 140 mg/dL. Lack of insulin in the body results in the accumulation of too much glucose in the bloodstream. Left untreated, it can cause damage to nerves, blood vessels, tissues and organs.

Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia occurs when the blood glucose levels go below 70 mg/dL. As the sugar level keeps falling, the brain cells get less oxygen. It may lead to a decrease in functioning. Hence, this condition needs immediate attention.

However, what is a dangerous level of blood sugar? If the reading goes beyond 250 mg/dL or below 50 mg/dL, it can be harmful to the body and needs to be addressed at once.

Dangers of too-high blood sugar levels

A constant hike in blood sugar levels can be potentially dangerous. It can lead to diabetes-related ketoacidosis, where the body starts breaking down fats at an alarmingly rapid rate. If your blood sugar levels cross 600 mg/dL, the chances to develop a hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS) increase. It causes your body to go into dehydration, and subsequently diabetes-induced coma. It can affect people who have type 2 diabetes with poor blood sugar management.

Dangers of too-low blood sugar levels

Extremely low blood sugar levels can induce your body to go into a state of shock and possible coma. The signs are loss of consciousness, trouble speaking and double vision. You may even have difficulty swallowing food or drink. If the blood sugar level falls below 40 mg/dL, the chances of a seizure are high.

When should a person with diabetes immediately contact the doctor?

Now that you know the answer to “what is a dangerous level of blood sugar“, you should keep tracking your blood sugar levels periodically. Seek medical attention if you notice the warning signs. If a person with diabetes experiences any of the following symptoms, it is a sign of an emergency, and they should consult a medical practitioner right away.

  • Dizziness leading to lack of consciousness
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Deep, rapid breaths
  • Loss of responsiveness
  • Slurred speech and general confusion
  • Convulsions

The importance of balancing blood sugar levels

Keeping your blood sugar levels in the healthy range – not too high and not too low, is the key to efficient diabetes management. Monitoring your blood glucose levels regularly is the first step towards achieving this. You can use various sugar checking machine to do it. It helps reduce the unpleasant symptoms of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. As a person living with diabetes, it is crucial to prevent your body from developing complications induced by dangerously low or high blood sugar levels.

Read more about how to use glucometer for monitoring blood sugar levels to manage diabetes.

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