Blood sugar is the glucose that the blood is transporting to where it is needed. When there is no real need for it, (the cells already have enough energy) it remains in the bloodstream. The sugar in the blood attaches to protein, creating damaging situations.
The sugar gets inside the cells, only with the assistance of insulin. When the cells already have enough energy, it becomes resistant to insulin and the consequence is that the sugar remains within the blood, resulting in high blood-sugar levels. Too much insulin causes low blood-sugar levels, if the cells are not insulin-resistant.
Sugar is great as a supplier for energy. When it is used for energy production, it is valuable. When it is not utilized appropriately it remains in the blood, causing all kinds of havoc.
Gasoline is a great energy source for cars, when applied to create motion. It is dangerous when not used for its intended purpose. Having gas all over the seats inside the car is not desirable. Gas is also not used as a coolant for the engine. Even worse, gas on the exhaust manifold would have disastrous consequences.
When the body is presented with multiple energy sources, it will use the dangerous one (sugar) first. Whatever is not used up immediately, is stored and the rest is expelled via the kidneys. By the time the kidneys have gotten rid of the excess sugar, the damage is already done. Thus the body sees sugar as a dangerous energy source, which must be used as quickly as possible. This fast utilization of sugar is NOT because it is a primary energy source, but because it is poisonous when not used as energy.
By glycogenolysis, i.e. when there is a need for sugar, the body can create it; Converting the stored glycogen to glucose (sugar). The liver will also convert protein to glucose, with the by-product of ketones. This ability was developed in past times due to the scarcity of available sugar. The body actually needs very little sugar, mostly for the brain, which can function equally well with ketones as the energy source.
The biggest source of sugar is dietary carbohydrates. Glucose is the simplest form of carbohydrate. When eating carbohydrates, it gets converted to glucose by the digestive process and get into the bloodstream to be transported to wherever it is needed.
Before waking in the morning, the body gets ready for the energy needed to get up and moving, by releasing different hormones, which stimulate the increase of blood glucose. In a diabetic, this could result in a condition called the dawn phenomenon.
At times, the cause of increased blood glucose might not be obvious. However, there are many "hidden" causes of blood sugar swings.
Diabetes is the silent killer. Little-by-little excess sugar in the blood damages cells, and you do not even know it. This also happens in a person without diabetes, but the body repairs itself and any damage is negligible. With a diabetic, the damage exceeds the repair rate and over time leads to a cascade of diabetic complications. The diabetic adjusts to these slow changes and thinks it is normal. For example; Increased urination is not perceived as abnormal, perhaps explained as "part of aging," when eventually noticed.
When someone survives a heart-attack, they will be motivated to do something about it, because they are acutely aware of the problem. The pain alone is enough to be a motivator, something that is not forgotten easily. Reduced vision, or an amputated limb, caused by diabetes would also be an excellent motivator. Unfortunately, by then it would be too late, the damage is already done. It could have been prevented by being proactive - know your blood sugar levels and do something about it.
Like a heart-attack survivor is conscious of his condition, so must you be attentive to what your diabetes is doing to you. The only way to know what is happening, before real problems manifest, is to test, test and test your blood glucose levels. Take a reading when you wake in the morning, before a meal, after the meal, randomly during the day and before bedtime. Know your blood sugar profile. Know what specific foods will raise the blood glucose to unacceptable levels and avoid it, because it is a poison for your body.
When having an allergic reaction to nuts, the cause and effect are known immediately. However, with blood glucose levels, you do not know what it is, unless you measure it. Know your blood sugar profile!
When the blood glucose gets very low, (hypoglycemia) some people have learned to recognize the effects and connect it with their blood glucose levels. The same goes for very high blood sugar levels, (hyperglycemia) the effects are not easily associated with the sugar in the bloodstream. The only way to get to know your body and interpret the signals, is to measure your blood glucose and connect how you feel with your blood-sugar level.
Most measurements are done as self-monitoring, using a glucometer at home, giving your blood-glucose level at that point in time. There are two units used for blood-glucose measurement; mg/dL (milligram per deciliter) - the standard in the USA, and mmol/L (millimoles per liter) - used in most other countries.
Another measurement, that should be done 3 - 4 times per annum, is the HgbA1c test, also known as the HbA1c or A1c test. This gives your average blood sugar from the last 2 - 3 months. Readings given as a percent (DCCT) or in mmol/MOL (IFCC)
Both these tests are done by taking a drop of blood from a pricked finger onto a test strip, which is inserted into a meter that measures and produces the value.
Your health is your responsibility. You can get assistance from many people like your family or the health care profession, but ultimately it is up to you. As a diabetic, you need extra care to maintain your blood sugar levels in an acceptable range. Understand the disease and how it affects your body. Learn how you can apply this knowledge in your own unique circumstance to prevent complications and have a normal high quality of life.
Please consult the services of your
doctor and/or other members of your health care team
before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.
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