Blood Sugar Management
Overview of Blood Sugar Management
The principle source of energy for metabolic needs of your body is sugar, also known as glucose. The energy is in the form of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). Your liver and muscles store this sugar in the form of glycogen. However, free glucose also circulates in the blood and a narrow range must be maintained at all times.
When the blood levels of glucose go higher than normal then a condition known as hyperglycemia develops. Levels lower than normal leads to hypoglycemia. Both these conditions are dangerous. Nevertheless, hyperglycemia can progress from mere abnormal glucose tolerance test to outright diabetes mellitus. If not properly managed by eating healthy and exercise, diabetes can lead to catastrophic complications.
Glucose Tolerance Test
What is glucose tolerance test or GTT? Well, this is the single most important diagnostic test for all blood sugar management disorders. Glucose tolerance test is a laboratory test to check how your body handles glucose or sugar. The test can either be oral or intravenous (IV) but the former is more commonly performed.
In oral glucose tolerance test, a sample of your blood will be taken. You will then be asked to drink fluid containing predetermined amount of pure glucose (usually 75 grams). After this, samples of your blood will be taken every 30 to 60 minutes for the next 3 hours. The intravenous glucose tolerance test is rarely used to diagnose diabetes.
Normal Blood Sugar Levels
The normal results for GTT may vary slightly depending on the laboratory that performs the rests. The fasting blood glucose levels should be 60 to 100 mg/dL. The normal blood levels after 1 hour should be less than 200 mg/dL and after 2 hours, it should be less than 140mg/dL. These generally act as the standardized normal ranges in non-pregnancy state.
Your glucose tolerance test is abnormal if the blood levels are higher than normal. Depending on the level of upward deviation from the normal, you may be having prediabetes, diabetes or in pregnant women, gestational diabetes mellitus. In pregnant women, the presence of a growing fetus will require more glucose to meet the metabolic demands. This means they may have higher blood glucose levels that are completely normal.
Prediabetes And Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
If your blood glucose levels are higher than the normal, but not high enough yet to meet the criteria for diagnosing diabetes then you have prediabetes. Some health experts may refer to it merely as abnormal glucose tolerance test. The condition may also be referred to as borderline diabetes mellitus. You may not experience any symptoms if you are prediabetic but you are at a higher risk of developing heart disease.
Prediabetes results when your body does not produce enough insulin (hormone responsible for the uptake of glucose from blood into cells) to handle the spike in glucose following meals. However, the insulin levels are enough to handle baseline blood sugars. At times, the pancreas produces enough insulin but your cells are resistant to its effects. If not treated, prediabetes invariable leads to type 2 diabetes mellitus.
There are two types of diabetes mellitus: Type 1 and 2. The former occurs when you are born with endocrine disorder in which the pancreas is unable to synthesize and secrete insulin. This means, it is present early in life. Type 2 on the other hand occurs when your body is resistant to insulin or the pancreas is unable to secrete enough insulin to take care of metabolic needs. This type develops later in life and it is the more common type. Majority of people who are overweight or obese also suffer from type 2 diabetes.
The result is that there is build-up of glucose in blood to toxic levels with catastrophic outcomes. Furthermore, glucose does not enter cells and yet cells need glucose for energy and growth. These two effects are the ones that lead to the symptoms you see in people suffering from type 2 diabetes mellitus. The risk factors for type 2 diabetes mellitus include advancing age and ethnicity, family history, cardiovascular problems such as stroke, obesity and overweight, pregnancy, severe mental problems and impaired glucose tolerance test.
The Value of Early Diagnosis
Diabetes is a progressive disease starting with impaired glucose tolerance test, prediabetes and then overt diabetes. Advanced cases of diabetes can be so difficult to manage and treatment is always not complete. Furthermore, chances are that those with advanced disease have already developed some irreversible complications involving the eyes, the kidneys, the nerves as well as other organs.
Nevertheless, diabetes can be arrested or even completely reversed if diagnosis is made early. The gold standard diagnostic test that can enable early recognition of blood sugar management disorders is oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). To be on the safe side, you should make it a routine to have the test done so that any impairment in glucose metabolism can be recognized early.
Treatment To Prevent Diabeties And Type 2 Diabetes
The complications of diabetes are grave. Luckily, it is within your power to prevent it from happening. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder and so is obesity and overweight. These two conditions are related because poor weight management will invariably lead to insulin resistance and therefore obesity. To stay safe, you have to start doing the certain things.
First, you must adopt a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy diet. Eating excessively, junk foods or highly refined foods rich in high carbs and saturated fats are the culprits in weight gain. Choose to eat healthy foods rich in fiber, fresh fruits and vegetables. Secondly, you need to increase your levels of physical activity, as this will improve your metabolic rate and therefore uptake and use of any excess glucose in the blood.
Thirdly, if you are already overweight or obese, then you should make every effort to lose any excess weight. This will not only prevent you from developing type 2 diabetes mellitus but also other diseases such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, heart failure, stroke and sudden cardiac death among others. You also need to stop smoking and drinking excess alcohol.
Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes
In addition to the above-discussed preventive methods, there treatment regimens available that can help relieve the symptoms of advanced diabetes. Researchers have developed synthetic insulin, which can be used to treat diabetes resulting form inadequate secretion of insulin from the pancreas. These can be in form of insulin inhaled, insulin injectables and insulin pumps.
For those with insulin resistance, oral hypoglycemic drugs such as Sulfonylureas and Biguanides and Thiazolidinedione can be used to manage the high blood sugar levels. Currently, weight loss surgery is becoming more popular as a method of treating type 2 diabetes mellitus. If you are diabetic then you need to talk to your doctor so that a suitable treatment regimen can be developed for you. Follow your doctors healthy weight loss tips and you may get of the road to recovery.