Difficulty in maintaining normal blood glucose/sugar levels is a persistent problem among pre-diabetics (people showing some initial symptoms of diabetes) and diabetics. This is especially true among patients who have not been informed about the nature of diabetes and who simply do not understand what normal blood sugar levels are. In order to help people with diabetes maintain long-term, normal blood glucose levels, it is important to start with the basics. I will begin by answering two very important questions: "What are normal blood sugar levels?" and "What are the high blood sugar symptoms to watch out for?"
Blood glucose levels are basically just numbers which reflect the amount of sugar currently circulating in your body. To keep your body alive and functioning well, you need a certain amount of sugar in your blood. Too much or too little sugar in the body are equally dangerous and will eventually kill you if not corrected. Thankfully, our bodies have multiple, complex mechanisms in place to ensure that we always have normal blood sugar levels.
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However, in pre-diabetics and diabetics, this important balancing act of maintaining normal blood glucose levels is disrupted. If this disruption continues and is ignored, our bodies will show high blood glucose symptoms or occasionally low blood glucose symptoms. But these high blood sugar symptoms are not the most troublesome aspect of disrupting this balancing act. The main problem lies in the many health consequences associated with long-term, higher-than-normal blood glucose levels.
The numbers which reflect normal blood sugar levels are:
These numbers are very important, however they may not mean much to pre-diabetics or diabetics who do not need to do regular blood sugar tests. Also, since most people have never had a blood sugar test, and have no way of knowing whether they have normal blood sugar levels, it is important to watch out for symptoms of diabetes. That leads us to the next question: "What are the high blood sugar symptoms to watch out for?"Even if you think you are maintaining a normal blood sugar level, it is important to know what the high blood glucose symptoms are so that you can warn your loved ones who might be at risk of having diabetes. Some common high blood sugar symptoms are
- Urinating more often than usual. Incidentally, the urine is commonly colorless and odorless. Just as a side note, in certain countries, you may even observe ants or other insects crawling to the toilets due to the sweetness of the urine.
- Needing to wake up more than twice nightly to urinate.
- Constantly feeling thirsty and needing to drink more water than usual (and is unrelated to recent increase in physical activity). Patients normally describe this symptom as quite troublesome.
- Having more frequent hunger pangs than usual, assuming you have been eating regularly.
- Feeling tired even after regular sleep.
- Unable to sustain an erection although you were well able to do so in previous years.
- Multiple and recurring infections that you do not normally get, including yeast infections.
- Unexplained or unintentional loss of weight. Loss of weight of more than 5% body weight in 30 days is considered as significant, if it is unrelated to any recent dietary habit changes.
- Having recent new or increased visual problems, such as blurriness or white patches. It is important not to dismiss visual problems as part of a normal aging process.
It is not uncommon for people with high blood glucose levels to present to the hospital with complications or manifestations of long term poor control of their blood glucose levels. It has been estimated that in the United States, as many as 50% of diabetics have some form of complications of diabetes before being diagnosed with diabetes. You will be surprised that there is approximately 30% of people are currently living in the United States without knowing they have diabetes.
If you encounter two or more of these high blood sugar symptoms for a number of weeks and they do not seem to resolve, please be sure to pay your doctor a visit. Even if you have a normal blood sugar level, these symptoms may reflect other metabolic or hormonal diseases. Furthermore, be sure to advise your friends to go for a medical checkup if they experience these symptoms. Do not be afraid to see the doctor as it is better to catch diabetes early where there is a chance to reverse diabetes and stop all the health diseases associated with established diabetes from progressing.
Bruce Lim is a medical student with special interests in internal medicine and cardiology, whose passions include helping people, internet marketing and reading on health topics such as maintaining normal blood sugar levels.
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