Blood glucose (Sugar)

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What is Blood Glucose?

Blood glucose level or concentration is the quantity of a simple sugar in the bloodstream called monosaccharide. Glucose is utilized in the body for providing energy to cells. Transport of blood glucose is facilitated with the help the hormone insulin; secreted by pancreas. Insulin propels glucose into the cells of the body from the liver and intestine by way of the bloodstream. Also known as dextrose, glucose is produced in the body from fats, proteins and carbohydrates in food.

Why blood glucose monitoring is required for diabetes and how often?

Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels is necessary for patients with diabetes because either extremely low or extremely high levels can be fatal.

Extremely low glucose in the body is called hypoglycemia that leads to tiredness, unconsciousness and even brain damage.

High blood glucose is called hyperglycemia that is hallmark signs of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes results in abnormal utilization of glucose in the body. Uncontrolled blood glucose levels can damage vital organs including the kidneys, heart, eyes and blood vessels.

Different types of blood glucose tests

Advanced technology allows for home monitoring of blood glucose levels. Frequent monitoring of blood sugar levels allows your physician to gauge the success of diabetes treatment.

Urine Testing

The simplest test conducted at home is urine testing. Changes in the color of paper strips dipped in a urine sample indicates the presence of sugar in urine, providing a broad and inaccurate range that can indicate hyperglycemia. The test is a quick and simple way to tell if your blood sugar levels are dangerously high and immediate treatment is needed.

Glucometer

A medical device called glucose meter or glucometer can provide an approximate blood sugar concentration. Usually, you prick your finger with small needle called lancet. A tiny drop of blood is produced and placed on a test strip. The strip is placed in the device that provides a result in 30-45 seconds in mmol/L or mg/dL and read on a digital display.

Glucometers come with instructions and comparison charts. Most glucometers have a wide measurement range extending from 0 to 600 mg/dL. Calibration of the meter is necessary before doing the test.

Daily self monitoring of blood glucose or SMBG is advisable to all the diabetics, especially insulin dependent patients. Follow your doctor’s advice regarding blood glucose testing at home.

Laboratory (Lab) tests for blood sugar

Fasting blood sugar test (FBS)

FBS is the most commonly used method of glucose determination and is carried out after a period of at least eight hours of fasting.

Post-Prandial blood sugar test (2- hr PPBS)

The blood glucose level is tested after 2 hours of consumption of a meal.

Urine glucose test

If blood glucose levels are too high, sugar “spills” into the urine. Malfunctioning kidneys can also lead to sugar in urine

Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) or Glucose Tolerance Test.

Glucose tolerance is the most effective test for diagnosing type 2 diabetes mellitus and gestational diabetes. Also referred as Glucose Tolerance Test. The test determines the rate at which glucose is metabolized from the blood stream. Expectant mothers are advised to undergo a glucose tolerance test during the second trimester of pregnancy.

Glycosylated hemoglobin test (HbA1C)

Hemoglobin, molecules in the blood that carry oxygen, has an affinity for glucose. When glucose concentration is high in blood, hemoglobin absorbs sugar. The absorbed glucose remains attached to hemoglobin until the cells age and die.

An elevated HbA1C test can provides a “snapshot” of diabetes control over a several month period and is extremely useful for measuring response to diabetes treatment.

Intravenous glucose tolerance test (IVGTT)

IVGTT is performed for research purposes and is not as effective as OGTT. Following an intravenous glucose load, the test is used for transplantation studies of raised islet cell antibodies.

How often glucose monitoring is required?

If you are suffering from Type1 or type 2 diabetes, measuring the blood sugar level is required at least 2 to 3 times a in a single day. Your physician will guide you.

  • Before & after meals
  • Prior to and after physical exercise or activity.
  • In the night, preferably before bed time.

Testing gives you an idea of your sugar level and aids in adjusting medication and diet. Self testing tools are used for monitoring blood glucose on daily basis. HbA1C testing is recommended once or twice in 2-3 months. Other glucose tests are used to diagnose diabetes.

 

Normal blood sugar levels

  • FBS test level should be in the range of 70-130 mg/dL. If FBS has a range from 100-125 mg/dL then it indicates a condition of pre diabetes. More than 126 mg/dL leads to diagnosis of diabetes.
  • Post-Prandial sugar test level should not exceed 180 mg/dL. Lower than 140 mg/dL is normal glucose tolerance. In between 140-200 mg/dL is indicative of pre diabetes. More than 200 mg/dL is diabetic condition.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) normal screen value is of 140 mg/dL. Any value exceeding this is considered abnormal.
  • HbA1C tests in a normal healthy person should be less than 6%. An adult with diabetes should have a HbA1C of between 6% and 7%.

 

 

Facts on blood glucose (sugar)

Diabetics can lead a healthy life with little care and concern. Diabetes is controlled with consistent and simple measures. All one needs to be is vigilant and active.

Say no to excess carbs

Taking carbohydrates is not ruled out, but emphasis should be on a balance of low glycemic index (GI) and high GI carbs. Try to eat in moderation several times a day so that the carbs are well distributed through your entire day’s meal.

Protein play

Proteins lack carbohydrates and do not impart alteration to blood sugar level. Eat plenty of green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and asparagus. Carrots, lettuce, beans all should be incorporated in your diet

Fruits galore

Consume 2 to 4 different varieties of fruits daily. Citrus fruits like sweet lime and oranges are really beneficial. Include blackberries, apples, bananas, cantaloupe, peaches, pears and grapes. According to the American Diabetes Association, one serving of fruit is:

1/2 cup canned fruit

1 small fresh fruit

2 Tbsp dried fruit

1 cup of melon or raspberries

1 1/4 cup of whole strawberries

Statutory warning

Many diabetics suffer from other illnesses. Never consume alcohol without speaking to your physician first. Avoid smoking to limit damage to the blood vessels that is a major complication of diabetes and increased risk factor for stroke and heart disease.

Remain Active

Activity is essential for diabetes control. Speak with your physician about an activity plan that must be individualized.

References:

Blood Glucose Meters

How to Test Blood Sugar

LabTestsOnline

Diabetes Test Information

Diabetic Diet

Diabetes and Exercise

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