Managing Blood Sugar
Blood sugar is a term used to refer to the level of glucose in the blood. In a normally functioning body, blood sugar levels are regulated naturally. The body produces and secretes the hormone insulin to help the cells use glucose and keep blood sugar levels fairly steady. Too much glucose in the body can cause a host of serious health issues. Those with diabetes have too much glucose in their blood and need to keep on top of their blood sugar levels in order to stay healthy. According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2012 approximately 9.3 percent (or 29.1 million) of the American population had diabetes. That statistic is a considerable jump from just two years before when the percentage was 8.3. Due to this alarming progression of the disease, it is important for individuals to become aware of diabetes and the associated symptoms. Those who know about the dangers of diabetes can learn to recognize the effects of blood sugar levels in themselves and their loved ones should issues arise. The four culprits for raising blood sugar levels include artificial sweeteners, dehydration, hormone fluctuations, and caffeine.
Managing Blood Sugar with Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes, known as type 1 and type 2, and each has its own set of risk factors. In type 1 diabetes (the less common form) sufferers’ bodies do not produce enough insulin or none at all. This kind of diabetes requires the use of insulin injections and is commonly discovered in childhood. Up to 95 percent of the people with diabetes have the type 2 form, in which sufferers’ bodies do not properly use the insulin in the body or the body does not produce a sufficient amount of insulin. A family history of type 1 diabetes is the most common risk factor for that form. While the cause is yet unknown, there is some speculation that environmental factors and vitamin D levels play a role in the development of type 1 diabetes. Being overweight and/or having an insufficient amount of physical activity in day-to-day routines are common risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Having high blood pressure, high triglycerides, eating a diet high in fat and carbohydrates, gestational diabetes during pregnancy, and drinking a lot of alcohol can also contribute to type 2 diabetes. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes also increases with age. In addition, people of certain ethnicity are at higher risk of developing the disease.
High vs. Low Blood Sugar
Diabetics can experience blood sugar levels that are either too high or too low. Each condition comes with its own set of symptoms. We all experience a bit of a rise on blood sugar after eating, but in a normally functioning body, insulin is produced to deal with the extra glucose. After diabetic people eat, they can suffer symptoms of high blood sugar due to the body not producing the insulin needed to carry away the unnecessary glucose. Some common symptoms of high blood sugar are nausea, drowsiness, extreme thirst and hunger, frequent urination, and blurred vision. There are a number of reasons a person with diabetes may experience low blood sugar levels. The diabetic person may have waited too long between meals, he may have eaten too little, exercised too vigorously, or may have too much insulin in his body. When low blood sugar occurs the symptoms can include sweating, dizziness, irritability, shaking, racing heartbeat, weakness, anxiety, and extreme hunger.
What Changes Blood Sugar Levels?
Diabetics must be ever vigilant about anything that could alter their blood sugar levels, and there are many common ways that diabetics may unexpectedly experience low blood sugar. For instance, many diabetics try to maintain blood sugar levels while still satisfying their sweet tooth by using artificial sweeteners. Unfortunately, new research is suggesting that these kinds of sweeteners may actually cause insulin levels to go up. Dehydration is another cause of high blood sugar, as it makes glucose levels in the blood more concentrated. Diabetics must also be aware of the effects of any medications they might be taking on blood sugar levels. Some drugs can raise blood glucose, others will lower it, and still others may make it harder to recognize the signs of these blood sugar swings. Talking to a doctor or pharmacist about potential blood sugar issues before starting a new medication, whether prescription or non, is imperative to avoid complications. Hormones are another unexpected cause of blood sugar fluctuations. Some women with diabetes may experience higher than usual blood glucose levels during the week before their periods. Also, some diabetics have higher blood sugar in the mornings due to the release of hormones in the early morning meant to wake the body up. Another often overlooked cause of blood sugar spikes? Diabetics who enjoy their daily cups of coffee need to be aware that caffeine can also raise blood sugar levels. Of course, it is not just coffee that contains caffeine. Colas, teas, chocolate, and energy drinks can all throw off blood sugar. Diabetics need to keep closer tabs on how much caffeine they are taking in each day to avoid possible problems.
In order to stay healthy, everyone should be aware of diabetes risk factors and prevention methods. For those with a family history of diabetes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is especially important. Getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet that is high in fiber and whole grains can help manage symptoms as well as prevent diabetes. Adopting these healthy practices will reduce many of the risk factors for diabetes. Additionally, numerous medical treatment options can also help reduce the likelihood of blood sugar spikes and help normalize blood sugar levels, like insulin pumps, patches, and infusers, as well as blood glucose monitors. It’s important to discuss these options with your doctor to find out what types of treatment or treatments could be most effective for you, and also which could benefit your current lifestyle most.