The foods you eat provide glucose to the body which it uses to produce energy. Blood glucose or blood sugar levels are regulated by the hormone insulin. Blood glucose levels should never be too high or too low, otherwise you may experience uncomfortable symptoms. While many people do not have to do anything in particular to keep their blood glucose at normal levels, others such as diabetics are required to manage blood sugar daily.
What is normal blood glucose?
Blood glucose may be measured before and after meals to determine if it is withing the normal range. A range of 60-100 mg/dL after going without food for at least 8 hours (fasting) and less than 140 mg/dL 2 hours after eating is considered normal in people without diabetes.
Prediabetics may have a fasting blood glucose range of 100 to 125 mg/dL while diabetics may have 126 mg/dL or higher. Blood sugar in prediabetics and diabetics usually stays elevated longer after eating because their body takes a longer time to remove sugar from the bloodstream.
What affects blood glucose levels?
Eating too much, inactivity, stress, pregnancy, taking certain medications, or not taking diabetes medication can cause glucose levels to rise (hyperglycemia). On the other hand, not eating enough or missing a meal, health conditions, medications, excessive alcohol drinking, or too much insulin in the body can cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. The following signs can help you determine if blood sugar is too high or too low and take action to regulate it.
Signs of high blood sugar
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Dry mouth
- Fruity breath odor
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Nausea or vomiting
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or legs
Signs of low blood sugar
- Feeling shaky
How to manage blood glucose levels
Apart from the telltale signs of high or low blood sugar levels, you can test and monitor your blood glucose regularly to keep it in check. A glucometer is a handy tool that can help you check and chart the levels using a small sample of blood on a testing strip . Taking a glass of milk, orange juice, or hard candy can help to quickly spike blood sugar back to normal levels. Diabetics may also take glucose tablets.
Drinking lots of water, exercising or staying active, and reducing carb and sugar intake are ways to quickly lower blood sugar. Diabetics usually take insulin as prescribed by their doctor for faster relief. However, it is important to talk with your doctor if your blood sugar levels stay elevated or is consistently too low.