Sugar comes from foods that are consumed daily and is released after being stored from the body’s tissues.
The body converts sugar, also called glucose, into energy so your body can function.
The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, its function is to mobilize glucose from the bloodstream to the cells of the tissues.
After eating, the level of glucose in the blood rises sharply.
The pancreas responds by releasing enough insulin to handle this increase in glucose level, mobilizing glucose from the blood into the cells, this helps to return the level of glucose in the blood to its previous, lower level.
When an individual has diabetes, two conditions can cause blood sugar to rise:
- The pancreas does not make enough insulin.
- Insulin is not working properly.
As a result of any of these situations, the level of sugar in the blood remains high, this condition is called hyperglycemia or diabetes mellitus.
If diabetes is not diagnosed or treated early, it can cause irreversible damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, blood vessels, and other organs.
The measurement of glucose levels in the blood allows the patient and the doctor to know if they are at risk of developing diabetes.
Much less often, the opposite can also happen: too low blood sugar, a condition called hypoglycemia, which can be caused by:
- The presence of too much insulin.
- For hormonal disorders.
- Liver diseases.
Glucose in the body
Blood sugar, or glucose, is an important source of energy and provides nutrients to the body’s organs, muscles, and nervous system.
The body gets glucose from the food you eat, and glucose absorption, storage, and production are constantly regulated by complex processes that affect the small intestine, liver, and pancreas.
Normal blood sugar level varies from person to person, but there is a normal range for fasting blood sugar, which is the amount of glucose in the blood six to eight hours after a meal, and is measured in milligrams per deciliter.
Variations in blood sugar levels, both before and after meals, are normal and reflect the way glucose is absorbed and stored in the body.
After eating, the body breaks down carbohydrates in food into smaller parts, including glucose, which can be absorbed through the small intestine.
As the small intestine absorbs glucose, the pancreas releases insulin, which stimulates the body’s tissues and causes them to absorb and metabolize glucose, in a process known as glycogenesis.
This glucose, stored in the form of glycogen, is used to maintain healthy blood sugar levels between meals.
When glucose levels drop between meals, the body releases the sugar that is needed to carry out the fundamental processes of the body.
The process is started by the pancreas, which releases a hormone known as glucagon, which promotes the conversion of stored sugar (glycogen) in the liver back to glucose and this is released into the bloodstream.
When there is not enough glucose stored to maintain normal blood sugar levels, the body will even make its own glucose from non-carbohydrate sources (such as amino acids and glycerol).
This process, known as gluconeogenesis, occurs most frequently during intense exercise and in cases of starvation.
While it may sound complicated, there is good reason for the body to continue this never-ending glucose dance: too much or too little glucose in the blood can cause serious health problems.
Too much glucose over a long period of time (hyperglycemia) can lead to nerve destruction, reduced resistance to infection, and heart and kidney disease.
On the other hand, a lack of glucose in the blood for a long period of time (hypoglycemia) can affect brain function, causing fatigue, fainting, irritability and, in some cases, seizures and loss of consciousness.
Blood glucose test
A blood glucose test is carried out in household processes through the glucometer and in the laboratory.
The glucometer is used to measure glucose levels immediately, using blood from the fingers of the hands usually, which will be obtained with the help of a lancet (needle) that is placed on a test strip in the device.
The blood tests that are used in the laboratory to measure glucose levels in the blood and detect diabetes, are :.
Random plasma glucose test
The random blood test can be done at any time. This type of test is used in the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and is done in a short time.
Fasting plasma glucose test
The fasting glucose test is performed after the individual has fasted for at least eight hours, and therefore the sample is generally taken in the morning hours.
Currently established guidelines consider that a fasting glucose result of 5.5 to 6.9 mmol per liter places a person at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, particularly when it is it is accompanied by other risk factors.
Oral glucose tolerance test
The oral glucose tolerance test is performed by first taking a fasting standard blood sample and then drinking a drink containing 75 g of glucose.
After two hours, another blood sample is taken for comparison.
HbA1c test for the diagnosis of diabetes
Although the HbA1c test does not directly measure the level of glucose in the blood, the result will reflect how high or low the levels of glucose in the blood have been over a period of 2 to 3 months.
Indications of diabetes or predisposition to diabetes are given if the following results are presented:
- Normal: below 42 mmol / mol (6.0%).
- Prediabetes: de 42 a 47 mmol / mol (6.0 a 6.4%).
- Diabetes: 48 mmol / mol (6.5%) or more.
Normal blood sugar values
Normal blood values will depend on the age and condition of the patient (diseases such as diabetes and pregnancy).
For most healthy individuals, normal blood sugar levels are as follows:
- Between 4.0 to 5.4 mmol per liter (72 to 99 mg per deciliter) during fasting.
- Up to 7.8 mmol per liter (140 mg per deciliter) 2 hours after eating.
For people with diabetes, blood sugar goals are as follows:
- Before meals: 4 to 7 mmol per liter for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
- After meals: less than 9 mmol per liter for people with type 1 diabetes and less than 8.5 mmol per liter for people with type 2 diabetes.
Women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who become pregnant A1c values: 7.0% or less (or as close to 7.0% as possible) and blood glucose values are as follows:
- Fasting and before meals: less than 5.3 mmol per liter.
- 1 hour after meals: less than 7.8 mmol per liter.
- 2 hours after meals: less than 6.7 mmol per liter.
The blood sugar levels of healthy children are between 70 and 150 mg / dL.
Glucose values in children
Children grow at a rapid rate and for the normal functioning of their brain and organs, their bodies require an optimal amount of glucose.
Children usually develop type 1 diabetes due to a glucose imbalance.
Each child has different needs; therefore, the pediatrician should be asked to determine the best glucose levels for a child.
Blood sugar is usually higher after a meal and lower after intense physical training.
To help keep a child’s blood sugar level in the normal range, a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables should be ensured.
Normal blood sugar levels according to age groups are as follows:
0 to 5 years
The normal range for blood sugar in babies from newborn to five-year-olds is 100 to 200 mg per dL.
Your fasting blood sugar should be close to 100 mg / dL.
Blood sugar levels after meals and before going to bed should be close to 200 mg per dl.
If it is below 150 mg per dL before bedtime, you should inform your doctor.
Your doctor may recommend a snack at bedtime and / or tests before going to bed.
From 5 to 11 years
For children ages 5 to 11, normal blood glucose levels are 70 to 150 mg per dL.
Your fasting blood sugar should be near the low end of normal sugar and should be near the high end after every meal and before bed.
Glucose level below 120 mg per dL at night requires medical attention.
12 years and over
For children over the age of 12, normal blood sugar levels are similar to those of adults.
Your doctor may recommend a bedtime snack if your child’s blood glucose level is less than 100 mg per dl before going to sleep.
Prevention of hypoglycemia in children
Diagnosing hypoglycemia in the early stages is ideal for treating a child.
Parents and children should educate themselves about the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Diabetic children should be taught how to control blood sugar as an added bonus.
People around the diabetic child, such as school teachers, babysitters, grandparents, uncles, close friends, or coaches should be informed about the child’s condition and symptoms of hypoglycemia, so that they can handle the child in absence of parents.
You should keep a record of the foods your child eats throughout the day, and try to instill healthy eating habits and get them to participate in some kind of physical activity.