People with diabetes must monitor their blood sugar levels. They refer to blood sugar levels charts to meet treatment plan goals.
Controlling blood sugar is at the heart of a diabetes treatment program. High blood sugar, also called hyperglycemia, affects all people with diabetes.
Hyperglycemia and Diabetes
There are two main types of hyperglycemia:
- Fasting hyperglycemia. Doctors monitor the diabetic or pre-diabetic patient’s fasting or resting blood sugar levels. If the blood sugar is greater than 130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) after the patient hasn’t consumed food or drink for at least eight hours, the doctor may recommend changes to improve blood sugar control.
- After-meal or postprandial hyperglycemia. If the patient’s blood sugar levels are higher than 180 mg/dL two hours after he or she eats a meal, the doctor is also likely to recommend changes to the treatment plan.
Individuals with normal blood glucose levels seldom have readings above 140 mg/dL after eating a meal—unless he or she consumers a very large amount of food at one sitting.
Blood Sugar Levels Chart
For diabetics age 20 and older:
|Fasting (resting) blood glucose levels||Less than 100 mg/dL|
|Before consuming a meal||70 – 130 mg/dL|
|One – two hours after consuming a meal||Less than 180 mg/dL|
|Before taking exercise||(If using insulin) At least 100 mg/dL|
|Before bed||100 – 140 mg/dL|
ADA recommends that diabetic individuals aim for 7.0 percent A1C blood sugar levels. A1C measures the diabetic or pre-diabetic individual’s long-term (two – three months) blood sugar levels.
Why Are Blood Sugar Levels So Important?
Uncontrolled hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, can cause organ, nerve, and blood vessel damage. It may also contribute to the development of other serious chronic conditions, such as breast cancer:
- Individuals with Type 1 diabetes are at risk of building up ketone acids in the blood (ketoacidosis).
- People with Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes may suffer from hyperglycemic non-ketotic syndrome (HHNS). This is a potentially dangerous condition.
It’s vital to treat all high blood glucose levels as soon as possible to avoid the development of diabetic complications.
What Causes Rising Blood Sugar Levels?
Diabetics may experience rising blood sugar:
- If he or she forgets or skips oral glucose-lowering medicines or insulin
- If he or she eats higher than recommended grams of carbohydrates (relative to medicine or insulin) or eats excessive carbohydrates (especially refined or simple carbohydrates)
- If he or she has an infection or is ill
- If he or she is under stress
- If he or she takes less exercise than normal
- If he or she takes part in vigorous physical activities, especially if insulin levels are too low and blood glucose levels are high
Symptoms of rising blood sugar include weight loss, increased thirst, fatigue, headaches, frequent urination, trouble concentrating, or blurred vision.
Uncontrolled high blood sugar levels may cause 1) damage to kidneys, eyes, or blood vessels, 2) skin or vaginal infections, 3) intestinal or digestive problems, e.g. diarrhea or constipation, 4) declining vision, 5) nerve damage, e.g. insensitive or cold feet, hair loss, or erectile dysfunction (ED), or 6) slow-healing sores or wounds.
Importance of Blood Sugar Management for Diabetics
Blood sugar or blood glucose is the fuel that keeps the brain and body functioning. Eating or drinking simple carbohydrates, e.g. refined, processed foods or sugary beverages, may cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
Simple carbohydrates are quickly absorbed by the bloodstream. This causes blood sugar levels to rise:
- In the normal individual, insulin signals the cells to take up extra glucose from the bloodstream and store it as fat for future use.
- In Type 2 diabetics, the pancreas releases insulin to push sugars back into the cells. Unfortunately, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics may suffer from insulin resistance.
Diabetics must take extra care to maintain stable blood glucose levels:
- Get more exercise. Exercise helps the body to become more sensitive to insulin. This helps the cells to take up more sugar from the bloodstream. Exercise is an effective way to reduce blood glucose, so regular exercise should be part of the diabetic’s lifestyle. At least 30 minutes of brisk walking, swimming or biking per day helps the diabetic to lower his or her blood sugar and control weight.
- Reduce if overweight. Achieving a healthy weight can help the diabetic or pre-diabetic to achieve a normal blood sugar level. Extra weight predisposes the pre-diabetic to developing Type 2 diabetes. Consult a doctor or registered dietician to create a weight loss plan.
- Consume more fiber. Fiber is poorly digested, so it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. A diet high in fiber can help to lower blood sugar levels and stabilize blood glucose. ADA recommends consuming a minimum of 25 grams of fiber per day from plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans.