“Sweets are bad for you, never buy or have them.”
“Do not take sugar.”
“Taking a bowl of ice cream can make you sick.”
“Drink this herbal mixture to kill the sugar in your body.”
If you grew up in a typical African home, chances are you heard these tales about how bad sugar is almost every day. But how true are these words? Well, not 100 per cent. This is because your blood still needs a certain sugar level to function. However, like everything else, moderation and balance are key in sugar intake.
Making sure your blood sugar (glucose) level is normal is essential to a healthy life. An average blood sugar level gives you the kick you need to get your day going. The increase and decrease of sugar levels and excess consumption of foods and snacks with sugar can lead to some health-related issues. These include wrinkles, diabetes, insulin resistance, kidney and liver diseases, weight gain, and more.
That is why you must get the right information on blood sugar levels. The key to managing your blood sugar level is to know and manage high and low blood glucose levels.
High blood sugar (Hyperglycemia)
High blood sugar (glucose) level, or hyperglycemia, is the condition that occurs when your blood glucose is too high. This condition is no news for type 1 and 2 diabetes patients. It also affects pregnant women with gestational diabetes.
However, sometimes people who do not have diabetes but are seriously down with stroke or life-threatening infections can have high blood sugar levels.
What makes your blood sugar level shoot up?
Common causes include;
- Lack of physical activities
- Missing a diabetic prescription
- Growth spurts
- Taking medications such as steroids.
Mild and irregular episodes of high blood glucose levels are not so worrisome. This is because your numbers can get back to normal without treatment or can be treated easily. But significantly high levels can lead to complications such as permanent damage of body parts (eyes, kidneys, blood vessels); diabetic ketoacidosis (which can lead to a diabetic coma); and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (severe dehydration).
If you have high blood sugar, you will notice symptoms like tiredness, being sick, blurred vision, weight loss, frequent urination, recurrent infections (skin infections, thrush, and more), and stomach pain.
What you can do to treat or prevent hyperglycemia
If you are diabetic and experience the signs of hyperglycemia, ensure that you work closely with your health care professional to cut down your blood sugar level (You can get talking with a doctor on Doctall). You may be advised to do the following:
- Change your diet–avoid sugary drinks, foods, and carbohydrates. These foods are rich in nutrients that can help control your blood sugar.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water regularly – there is a lot water can do for you. And one such is helping you control your sugar levels. Remember to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily.
- Exercise more–regular exercise such as walking, jogging, cycling, and skipping can lower your blood sugar level, especially if they help you lose weight.
- Monitor your blood glucose level regularly so you can notice changes – To stay abreast of your numbers, note that the general target blood sugar level is less than 100mg/dl before having a meal and below 140mg/dl 2 hours after eating.
- Get enough rest and stay away from stressful activities – stress, uneasiness, and lack of sleep can slow down how the sugar in your blood breaks down.
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
Low blood sugar (glucose) level or hypoglycemia, happens when the sugar level in your blood drops to an extent that is too low. This is common with those living with diabetes, especially diabetic patients that take insulin.
Low blood sugar happens because of the effects of some medications, insulin, and antivirals. Your blood sugar levels may also drop when you delay or skip meals. You can also experience symptoms when you do not eat carbohydrate foods such as bread, pasta, and fruits. Intense exercise and excessive alcohol can also cause low blood sugar levels.
How do you know when your blood sugar level is low? Early signs of this condition include tiredness, excessive sweating, tingling lips, trembling, fast heartbeat, moodiness and irritation, and dizziness. Feeling weakness, slurred speech, blurry vision, seizures, lack of concentration, and fainting are also possible symptoms.
What is the way forward?
If you have these symptoms or if your blood sugar level is lower than 4mmol/L, try out the following:
- Check your blood sugar every 15 minutes – this helps you know if there is an improvement or decline.
- Consume sugary snacks or drink – a glass of fruit juice, a handful of sweets, or cake can help increase your number.
- Have a main meal rich in carbohydrates – prepare a slice of toast bread, jollof rice, or biscuits.
- You should also get medical help if symptoms of low blood sugar keep recurring.
- Reduce alcohol intake or scrap consumption of alcohol
Typically, high and low blood sugar levels are the norm for people diagnosed with diabetes. But it doesn’t mean that people who are yet diagnosed cannot experience these two. If you are diabetic, always contact a medical support team as you carry out treatment measures.
If you are not diabetic, speak with a doctor on Doctall and follow treatment and preventive measures to stay healthy.