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Glucose Levels

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Blood glucose is basically a simple sugar produced by the body’s digestive system when taking in food, particularly carbohydrates, and breaking it down into nourishment for the body’s cells. It travels in the bloodstream where insulin, which is produced by the pancreas, helps the blood sugar (or blood glucose) move into the cells. However, when insulin does not function properly or there is little or no insulin production, the sugar is not absorbed by the cells which cause the glucose levels to increase. Continued high glucose levels will eventually lead to diabetes.

Generally, glucose levels will rise after meals and are lowest in the morning before breakfast. If the glucose levels are not maintained at a normal range, the results could lead to two possible conditions: hyperglycemia,/i> or hypoglycemia.

Hyperglycemia, or high blood glucose, will result from the abnormal glucose levels in the bloodstream. Besides lack of insulin, there are some other factors that can cause the hyperglycemia: acromegaly (overproduction of growth hormones), acute stress, chronic renal failure, Crushing syndrome (disorder caused by high levels of cortisol), certain drugs such as diuretics, and pancreatic cancer. If the glucose levels spike higher than 180 mg/dl one to two hours after eating or a blood sugar reading is greater than 130 mg/dl before eating, the glucose is not controlled. The diabetic needs to inform the doctor if this happens once or more during the week. The doctor will probably want to exam the diabetic and modify the diabetic treatment.

However, glucose levels have the potential to decrease, as well. There are several reasons that the levels will lessen: an excess of insulin or diabetic medicine; an illness, such as the flu; and/or, perhaps, too much exercising. If the glucose levels continue to drop, hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose, will develop. Other conditions which can cause hypoglycemia are as follows: drinking alcohol, some drugs such as acetaminophen and anabolic steroids, liver disease, and starvation.

If the glucose levels plunge below 70 mg/dl, steps should be taken to raise them, perhaps by taking a glucose tablet or drinking a sugared drink. The diabetic should be aware that the glucose levels could drop even lower. In this case, immediate medical attention should be sought; since left untreated, the abnormally low glucose levels could lead to impaired mental function, loss of consciousness, and undue fatigue. Furthermore, it could even lead to severe dehydration and possibly to a coma.

There are blood glucose tests to take in order to know exactly where the glucose levels are in regards to normal or abnormal levels. Blood glucose tests are usually given for blood glucose monitoring, checking for diabetes if not yet diagnosed with diabetes, and checking for hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. One blood glucose test is called the “fasting plasma glucose” test which checks glucose levels after a fast of eight hours in length. This is usually the first test which is performed when checking for diabetes. To be considered at normal glucose levels, the glucose must measure between 70 and 99 mg/dl. Another test known as the “two hour postprandial blood sugar” test will measure the glucose levels two hours after a meal. For this test, the normal glucose levels measure between 70 and 145 mg/dl. One other test is the “random plasma glucose” test which checks the glucose levels through the day with no regard to meal times. There may a problem if the glucose levels fluctuate too widely. In this case the normal sugar levels need to be between 70 and 125 mg/dl.

One final test may be the “oral glucose tolerance” test in which the blood is tested after 8 hours and then 1 to 2 hours after drinking glucose liquid. The normal level should test less than 140 mg/dl. Any abnormal readings for any of these tests will indicate further measures are necessary in bringing the glucose levels to normal readings.

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