Blood Sugar Irregularities
What are blood sugar irregularities?
We provide some simple advice on controlling your blood glucose levels.
Our blood sugar levels impact on our energy levels, concentration, ability to lose or control weight, our mood and much more.
When we eat, drink alcohol, eat sweets or starchy foods, such as potato, bread, pasta or rice, they are broken down in the body into a sugar, called glucose. The glucose is then carried throughout the body in the bloodstream and distributed into cells, which use it for energy.
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These blood glucose levels are carefully controlled by a natural hormone called insulin, which is produced in the pancreas. After we eat, our blood glucose levels rise and insulin is released to bring those blood glucose levels back to normal. However, if the blood sugar rises too rapidly, the body can release too much insulin, this, in turn, causes the blood sugar to drop low again and can make us feel tired, cranky and hungry again.
Symptoms associated with a blood sugar imbalance include:
- Mood swings
- Poor concentration
- Fat storage, especially around the midriff
- Brain fog
- Cravings, especially for sweet foods
- Excessive thirst
- Addictions to caffeine-containing drinks and/or alcohol and cigarettes
- Drowsiness during the day
- Excessive sweating
- Difficulty losing weight
At any one time, the ideal amount of glucose to have in the blood is approximately two teaspoons. Our eating habits are the biggest cause of blood sugar irregularities, the good news is: you can control your blood sugar levels and keep them steady by watching what you eat.
Low blood sugar
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycaemia, is a condition where the level of glucose in the blood drops below a certain level, about 2.5mmol/l. The condition presents itself through a number of symptoms, that usually disappear ten to fifteen minutes after eating sugar.
Too much insulin in the blood and other diseases can cause hypoglycemic episodes, or ‘hypos’. Hypoglycaemia can cause some or all of the following symptoms:
- a feeling of weakness
- rapid heartbeat
- difficulty concentrating
- blurred vision
- temporary loss of consciousness
These symptoms will often occur about three to four hours after a meal. If hypoglycaemia is suspected with the symptoms similar to those going away after eating sugar, it should be confirmed that the symptoms are caused by low blood glucose and it’s recommended to see a Doctor.
High blood sugar
When the blood glucose levels rise, this is known as hyperglycemia; the opposite of hypoglycemia.
Sometimes the body can stop making insulin, as in the condition Type 1 diabetes, or the insulin does not work sufficiently, as in Type 2 diabetes. In diabetic patients, glucose does not enter the cells effectively, thus remaining in the blood and creating high blood sugar levels.
When blood sugar levels remain high for several hours, dehydration and more serious complications may develop. Even mild hyperglycemia, if unrecognised or inadequately managed for several years, can lead to damage in multiple tissues in the brain, kidneys and arteries.
When blood sugar levels stay high for days or weeks, diabetes should be suspected and must be tested by a Doctor. Common symptoms can include:
- a dry mouth,
- feeling thirsty,
- frequent urination,
- blurred vision,
- dry, itchy skin,
- fatigue or drowsiness,
- weight loss,
- increased appetite.
If the condition continues for several hours, dehydration can occur and other symptoms can develop, such as:
- difficulty breathing,
- dizziness upon standing,
- rapid weight loss,
- increased drowsiness and confusion,
- unconsciousness or a coma.
Blood sugar irregularities
Some early warning signs and risk factors that can contribute to blood sugar irregularities include:
- being overweight,
- having a family history of diabetes,
- a daily diet containing high amounts of sugars and/or refined carbohydrates,
- living a sedentary lifestyle and not getting any exercise,
- frequent sugar cravings,
- experiencing a 2 pm to 4 pm energy slump,
- a constant feeling of fatigue,
- frequent urination and/or recurrent urinary tract infections,
- trouble losing weight, particularly excess weight around your waist.
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Greg Bantick has been in practice since 1975 in a wide variety of clinical settings. He has particular interests in dermatology, digestive, mood and auto-immune disorders.
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