Blood sugars also known as blood glucose, refers to the concentration of glucose (a type of sugar) present in the bloodstream. Glucose is the primary source of energy for the body’s cells and is vital for proper functioning and overall health.
Here’s why it is important:
Glucose is the main energy source and fuel for the body’s cells, including the brain, muscles, and organs. It provides energy for various bodily functions, such as physical activity, cognitive processes, and cellular metabolism.
Blood sugar levels play a crucial role in regulating metabolism. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells, where it is used for energy production. This helps maintain stable blood sugar levels.
The brain relies heavily on glucose as its primary energy source. It requires a constant supply of glucose to function optimally. Fluctuations in blood sugar levels can impact cognitive function, concentration, and overall mental well-being.
Adequate blood sugar levels are necessary for optimal physical performance and exercise. During physical activity, muscles require glucose for energy production, and maintaining stable blood sugar levels helps sustain endurance and performance.
Maintaining balanced blood sugar levels is essential to prevent hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar). Both conditions can have adverse effects on health and require appropriate management.
Monitoring and managing blood sugar levels are particularly crucial for individuals with diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin, requiring insulin injections and careful monitoring of blood sugar levels. In type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin or does not produce enough of it, necessitating lifestyle modifications, medication, and regular monitoring of blood sugar levels.
Prevention of Long-Term Complications: Consistently high blood sugar levels, as seen in uncontrolled diabetes, can lead to long-term complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, vision problems, and poor wound healing. Proper management of blood sugar levels helps reduce the risk of these complications.
Checking your Blood Sugars Levels
Getting your blood sugar checked is important for managing and monitoring conditions like diabetes and for maintaining overall health. Here’s how you can get your blood sugar checked and how often you should do it, depending on your specific circumstances:
Fasting Blood Sugar Test (FBS):
- How: This test is done after an overnight fast of at least 8 hours. A healthcare provider will take a blood sample, usually from your arm.
- Frequency: Typically, individuals with diabetes or prediabetes may have their fasting blood sugar checked regularly, as advised by their healthcare provider. For those without diabetes risk factors, it’s often done during routine check-ups, which may occur every 1-2 years.
Random Blood Sugars Test:
- How: This test can be done at any time of the day, regardless of when you last ate. A blood sample is taken.
- Frequency: It’s often used to monitor blood sugar levels in people with diabetes throughout the day. The frequency varies depending on the individual’s treatment plan.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT):
- How: You’ll fast overnight, and then a blood sample is taken. Afterward, you’ll drink a sugary solution, and blood samples are taken at intervals over a few hours.
- Frequency: OGTT is usually done to diagnose diabetes or gestational diabetes. It’s not typically a routine test for monitoring blood sugar unless directed by a healthcare provider.
Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) Test:
- How: This test measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 2-3 months by analyzing the percentage of glucose attached to hemoglobin in your red blood cells.
- Frequency: People with diabetes often have this test every 3-6 months to assess long-term blood sugar control. The frequency may vary depending on your individual situation.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM):
- How: A CGM system involves wearing a sensor under the skin that continuously measures glucose levels in the interstitial fluid. It provides real-time data and trends.
- Frequency: CGM is used by some individuals with diabetes for continuous monitoring. The sensor is typically replaced every 7-14 days, depending on the specific system.
Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose (SMBG):
The frequency of blood sugar checks depends on factors such as your health condition, treatment plan, and healthcare provider’s recommendations. It’s essential to work closely with your healthcare team to determine the right testing schedule for your specific situation. If you have diabetes, regular monitoring is crucial for managing your condition effectively and making necessary adjustments to your diet, medication, or lifestyle.
Final Word on Blood Sugars
Maintaining a stable blood sugars levels through a balanced diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, and, if necessary, medication or insulin therapy (in the case of diabetes) is crucial for overall health and well-being. Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels, particularly for individuals with diabetes, allows for timely adjustments and effective management.