Dr Aidin Rawshani

Diabetes and blood sugar

Contents

Blood glucose and blood sugar are interchangeable terms, both are vital for the body and our health, especially for people with diabetes.

Most people with diabetes know the terms blood glucose, blood sugar test, blood glucose level and blood glucose meter, but what does blood glucose really mean? Why is it so important to control your blood sugar levels every day?

A sugar molecule (glucose)

What is blood sugar levels?

Blood sugar levels are literally the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood, sometimes it is also called plasma glucose level. Usually, the blood sugar value is expressed in the unit of a millimolar per liter (mmol/l), and for people without diabetes, blood sugar levels should be about 4-8 mmol/l.

Blood sugar levels rise after meals and blood sugar levels are usually lowest early in the morning. For individuals with diabetes, blood sugar fluctuates more.

Why do you need to control your blood sugar levels?

High levels of glucose in the blood eventually lead to damage to blood vessels. Poor blood sugar control may increase your chances of developing diabetes-related complications such as kidney failure (nephropathy), nerve damage (neuropathy), fundus damage (retinopathy) and cardiovascular disease.

The time scale of the development of these complications is usually years, but be aware that type 2 diabetes is often not diagnosed until a relatively late stage.

How do I find out what my blood sugar levels are?

Traditionally, you measure sugar levels in the blood with a stick in your finger, the blood from the capillaries in your finger is then placed on a test strip, the blood from the test strip is analyzed by a small device (blood glucose meter) that calculates your blood sugar levels.

What are good blood sugar levels?

Health Organization NICE recommended the following

  • A normal pre-prandial (before meals) blood glucose level is between 4 and 7 mmol/l.
  • After eating (post-prandial), the levels should be below 9 mmol/l when tested 2 hours after a meal.
  • When going to bed for the night, the levels should not be more than 8 mmol/l.

When to measure blood sugar?

It is good to check blood glucose values at regular intervals. The number of times per day that the blood sugar level should be measured depends entirely on the individual and the type of diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes who use insulin should check blood glucose levels before each meal, sometimes as often as five times a day.

För personer med typ 2 diabetes som behandlar sitt sjukdomstillstånd med enbart kost, bör testa sina sockernivåer flera gånger i veckan.

Are there special times when blood sugar should be measured?

Every time you feel unwell, and when you may feel your blood sugar is getting too low or too high, you should check your blood sugar levels.

People with diabetes who have significantly elevated blood sugar levels (20 mmol/l) should also control the content of ketones in the urine.

What is an HbA1C test and how does it reflect blood glucose?

HbA1c tests show average blood sugar levels over a longer period of time. HbA1c is called glycosylated hemoglobin in medical language and more of it is produced in the body by high blood sugar levels.

Increasing HbA1C levels indicates a greater risk of complications.

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