Blood Sugar Levels | Treatment: What You Need To know

Blood Sugar Levels

Blood Sugar Levels

In this article we will discuss about blood sugar levels.

Blood sugar is the concentration of glucose present in the blood of humans. While its regulation is essential for leading a healthy life, a diabetic person should be more mindful, since it directly affects their condition.

Why do you need to test blood sugar levels?

Testing blood sugar levels explains how the individual is managing diabetes. Diabetes is not treatable to the point that it stops existing within the body; hence managing it becomes the only way to reduce its influence.

Keeping diabetes in control can defeat the risk of several health complications, like kidney diseases, loss of vision, and an increase in the chances of heart issues.

Tracking whether the blood sugar levels are high or low can aid in:

  1. Understanding how the treatment is working and how effective it is. It can give a head start on what needs to be changed.
  2. Learning how specific foods, activities, or moods influence blood sugar levels.
  3. Pinpointing whether specific stress-causing incidents or illnesses change the levels. 

When to check?

The frequency of checking usually depends on the type of diabetes the patient has and how severe it is. It also depends on the medication being consumed.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed when the pancreas produces deficient amounts or completely stops producing insulin. The sugar levels need to be checked anywhere between 2 to 4 times a day.

It needs to be tested:

  1. Before eating meals or snacks
  2. Before and after physical activities
  3. More often during an illness
  4. During stressful situations
  5. Before bedtime and after waking up
  6. When the individual’s lifestyle is undergoing severe changes
  7. When there are alterations in the medicines being consumed

Type 2 Diabetes

This is an escalation for type 1 diabetes. Neither does the pancreas make enough insulin, nor do the cells utilize and accept insulin. This results in the need to administer insulin externally.

The doctor may direct a type 2 patient to check their blood sugar levels several times a day. If multiple daily insulin injections are used, then the checks should be conducted before meals and bedtime. However, if long-acting insulin shots are being taken, there may be a need to check it only before breakfast or dinner. 

There will be no requirement of testing the levels daily if the diabetes is in complete control of the patient. This is when they can manage sugar levels through non-insulin medications, diets, and exercises only. 

How to Check?

The levels need to be checked by drawing a blood sample from the body. It can be easily done at home or wherever the person is. Devices like the blood glucose meter or the continuous glucose monitor would generally be used. 

A glucose meter is a small hand-held device that utilizes a lancet to prick the patient’s finger. Once a tiny drop of blood is taken, it is placed onto a disposable test strip. The strip is inserted within the device, which then calculates the level of glucose. The numbers are displayed on the digital readout. A record of the readings needs to be maintained, which are then shown to the doctor. 

Continuous glucose monitors (CGM) are the recommended device for people with type 1 diabetes. It consists of a sensor that can be inserted within the skin in the abdomen. It keeps track of the blood sugar levels and sends the information to the device, which could be a smartphone, smartwatch, or a pc. 

Thus, it gives the doctor a real-time track of the fluctuations occurring. Such devices can work for a week or two in a stretch. The newest versions can be used for up to 3 months.

The Target ranges

The amount of glucose in the body differs from person to person, due to the several factors like age, the type and severity of diabetes, and how long have they had diabetes. 

Keeping these in consideration, the doctor might show a customized target that the patient should always meet. Usually, the recommended normal targets for adults are:

  1. Before meals: 80 to 130 mg/dL
  2. After meals: above 180 mg/dL 

Treatments

Sugar levels do not require any treatment if they do not fluctuate repeatedly and stay within the target range. But the diagnosis of diabetes requires more measures than just healthy lifestyle habits, to be taken. 

Medication

Type 1 Diabetes

Insulin shots make up the majority of drugs available for treating this type of diabetes. They come in many forms, depending on how long they last within the body.

Rapid-acting Injections:

    1. Insulin lispro, sold as Humalog
    2. Insulin glulisine, available in Apidra

Short-acting Injections:

Regular insulin, contained in Humulin R and Novolin R

Long-acting Injections:

    1. Insulin glargine, sold as Toujeo
    2. Insulin Detemer, contained in Levemir

Non-insulin drugs that can be administered with or without the insulin shots are:

  1. Pramlintide, available as Symlin
  2. Glucagon 

Type 2 Diabetes

Doctors usually prescribe a specific type or combination of Type 2 Diabetes drugs and only move to insulin if these don’t have the desired effect on the patient’s sugar levels. Some of them are: 

Sulfonylureas:

This drug influences the pancreas to secrete more insulin. It should be taken in strictly small doses, as it runs the risk of lowering the blood sugar levels too much. The drug includes:

    1. Glimepiride, available as Amaryl
    2. Glipizide, sold under the name Glucotrol

Alpha-glucosidase Inhibitors:

Carbohydrates are digested and absorbed at a slower pace when this drug is consumed before or after meals. It reduces the danger of glucose levels spiking after eating.

    1. Acarbose, sold as Precose
    2. Miglitol, available under the brand Glyset

Self-Medication

The patient can take several steps without the guidance of a healthcare professional. These treatments vary according to what needs to be acted upon- high or low blood sugar.

When the Sugar levels are High

Tiredness, thirst, blurry vision, and frequent urination are signs that the levels may have exceeded 180 mg/dL.

Immediately drinking a large glass of water, followed by brisk walking or light exercising, would help in stabilizing blood sugar levels. If the sugar spikes more than thrice a week without any explanation, a doctor’s review is needed.

When the Sugar levels are Low

The threat of low blood sugar levels is common among people with diabetes, especially the ones taking insulin treatment. Sweaty skin, shakiness, or hunger might be an indication of a drop in sugar. If the level is below 70 mg/dL, one of the following steps can be taken:

  1. Chewing 4 glucose tablets or hard candy
  2. Drinking ½ a cup of either fruit juice or regular soda

After doing so, the levels should be rechecked after 15 minutes. If they are still not above 70, the process should be repeated until they reach the target. 

Conclusion

Following a fundamental and healthy lifestyle, as a diabetic or non-diabetic, will always ensure that blood sugar levels are controlled. If complications persist, a second opinion should be taken from the doctor.