What is blood sugar and why is it in the blood?
The term Blood Sugar refers to the simple sugar known as glucose, also called a mono-saccharide, meaning that in its chemical form it is a single molecule composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. Glucose, as can be seen from its chemical formula, is a carbohydrate like all sugars and there are many different other sugars of varying complexity.
The sugar in the blood is obtained from the foods we eat, especially the carbohydrate foods such as breads, cereals, pastas, potatoes, fruits, and many others, that are typically part of our daily diet. The digestion process that takes place after eating, breaks down the carbohydrates to glucose which then passes into the blood stream to be delivered to organs and cells throughout the body that use the glucose as a source of energy.
Why is too much blood glucose dangerous?
While sugar, in the form of glucose, is an essential energy source for the body's cells, too much glucose remaining in the blood stream for too long a period of time is associated with many serious health problems. The classic disease in which higher than normal blood sugars exist is diabetes, the complications of which are the major cause of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness in America. According to the American Diabetes Association there are 24 million people in America who have diabetes.
What level of blood glucose is too high?
In the United States, blood glucose levels in the human body are measured using metric units of milligrams per deciliter. A milligram is one thousandth of a gram and a deciliter is one hundredth of a liter. Almost every other country measures blood sugars in milimoles per liter.
Without a blood test requisitioned by a doctor, individuals are unlikely to know whether their own glucose levels are above normal or not. And they do fluctuate throughout the day in response to foods eaten and physical exertion and as the blood cells convert glucose to fuel their metabolic activities. Blood sugar levels will be higher after meals and for the non-diabetic person, will usually return to the normal range of 64.8 and 104.4 milligrams per deciliter, usually expressed as mmg/dL.
Occasional "spikes" above those levels can probably be ignored but frequent and long lasting sugar levels higher than those are considered to be too high. If a physician arranged the blood tests that reveal that circumstance, it is probable that diabetes will be suspected and further tests, such as a glucose tolerance test may be required.
Blood sugar levels are often relatively lower than normal after a night's sleep, usually referred to as overnight fasting, and the breakfast meal serves to replenish the needed glucose supplies for the cells. However, if during the night the sugars begin to get too low, the body's liver may come into action and initiate steps to provide a supply of glucose.
Anyone with persistently higher than normal blood sugar levels must be under the care and supervision of a doctor.
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