Why Blood Sugar Matters
When you eat food, your body breaks down all of the sugar and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. Insulin, a hormone normally produced by the pancreas, regulates the passage of glucose from the blood into the cells.
Diabetes occurs when your body does not make enough insulin, or cannot use normal amounts of insulin properly. Left untreated, diabetes causes glucose to build up in the blood instead of going into cells. As a result, your cells may be starved for energy and, over a period of time, high blood glucose levels may harm your eyes, kidneys, nerves, or heart.
There are different types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes usually begins in childhood and occurs when the pancreas no longer makes insulin; insulin injections will be needed. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas makes insulin but cannot use it properly. Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be controlled by diet, exercise, and/or taking medications but insulin may also be needed. Symptoms of diabetes may include: excessive thirst, a frequent desire to urinate, blurred vision, sores that do not heal well, fatigue, and tingling in the hands and feet. You should see your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
Pre-diabetes is the state that occurs when a person's blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with pre-diabetes often don’t have symptoms. In fact, millions of people have diabetes and don't know it because symptoms develop so gradually.
According to The American Diabetes Association, individuals with Pre-diabetes may be able to prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes by making changes in their diet and increasing their level of physical activity. See www.diabetes.org for more lifestyle and prevention tips.
Testing and Monitoring
The American Diabetes Association estimates that 23.6 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and 5.7 million of them are unaware they have the disease. The VNA offers a fasting blood glucose test to measure the amount of glucose in the blood. A normal fasting blood sugar is less than 100 mg/dl. A reading of 100 –125 mg/dl signals pre-diabetes. A fasting blood glucose level of 126 mg/dl or higher indicates diabetes. Anyone with a fasting blood glucose level that exceeds 100 mg/dl should monitor their blood sugar levels regularly and see a healthcare provider to develop a plan to maintain their blood sugar at a healthy level. For blood sugar test results to be reliable, you will need to fast for at least eight hours just prior to the test. If elevated, it is important to have your fasting blood sugar rechecked at a laboratory to verify the results.