Four Ways Blood Sugar Levels Affect Your Health

The blood sugar, or glucose, in your body is the material responsible for energizing your body. When you eat, your body converts some of the food you consume to glucose.

Your blood sugar level is the amount of glucose in your system at a particular time. Blood sugar is measured in milligrams per deciliter. There is a small range in which your blood sugar levels are considered normal if you are not diabetic. If it drops below 70 milligrams per deciliter, you may experience unpleasant symptoms. Similarly, symptoms can arise if your blood sugar levels exceed 200 milligrams per deciliter. If your blood sugar reading is higher than 240 milligrams per deciliter, it is too high.

If you have diabetes, your blood sugar levels may be too high or too low often. Insulin can be used to regulate your blood sugar levels. Your doctor may give you blood sugar goals to minimize how often your blood sugar fluctuates throughout the day. The purpose of setting goals is to minimize your diabetic symptoms. Below is a list of four ways blood sugar levels can affect your health.

Low Blood Sugar Levels (Hypoglycemia) Can Cause Physical Symptoms

When you have low blood sugar levels, it is called hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can cause a wide range of physical symptoms affecting your health. One of the most common early signs of hypoglycemia you may experience is shakiness. Other physical symptoms of slightly low blood sugar include:

  • Sweating.
  • Hunger.
  • Feeling tired or weak.

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If your blood sugar levels are substantially low, your symptoms can become more severe. For example, you may experience double vision or blurred vision. Dizziness may accompany your vision problems or occur even when your vision is clear, increasing your chances of falling. You may feel a numb or tingling sensation near your mouth. If you experience such symptoms and are not diabetic or your medication does not alleviate them, seek medical help right away. Other physical symptoms of low blood sugar levels may require immediate medical attention, including the following:

  • Fast pulse
  • Pounding or irregular heartbeat
  • Headache, especially when accompanied by other symptoms

Low Blood Sugar Levels (Hypoglycemia) Can Cause Cognitive Symptoms

Low blood sugar levels can affect your health by causing multiple cognitive or brain function-related symptoms, such as changes in your mood. For example, if you feel anxious or nervous for no reason, your blood sugar may be too low. Hypoglycemia can cause you to become irritable without provocation. This may lead to physical or verbal altercations you normally avoid when your blood sugar is properly regulated. Such symptoms can be signs you may have diabetes or, if you are already diagnosed, signs your medication regimen is not working properly.

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Consistent or severe hypoglycemia can have a severe effect on your mental health. You may find it difficult to communicate clearly or perform tasks requiring mental and physical coordination during a bout of hypoglycemia. Severely low blood sugar levels can cause you to display symptoms like:

  • Irrational
  • Unclear
  • Seizures.
  • Coma.

Hypoglycemia can affect your brain function, causing fluctuations in your sleeping patterns. For example, you may have more frequent nightmares when your blood sugar levels are too low. Hypoglycemia can cause you to make audible noises like crying or whimpering in your sleep. When you have such symptoms, you may wake up frequently. If you are not resting properly, blood sugar regulation can be even more difficult. Lack of proper sleep may make it difficult to stay awake and alert during the day.

High Blood Sugar Levels (Hyperglycemia) Causes Early Physical Symptoms

When your blood sugar levels are too high, it is called hyperglycemia. Your blood sugar reading must be significantly higher than standard healthy readings before symptoms develop. Therefore, noticing symptoms quickly is important. The earliest sign your blood sugar levels are too high may be urinating more often than you normally do. You may find you are more thirsty than usual.

Other early physical symptoms of high blood sugar levels can affect your health in the same way as low blood sugar levels. For example, you may experience headaches when your blood sugar levels are off the normal scale in either direction. Tiredness or fatigue and blurry vision can occur whether your blood sugar levels are too high or too low. Therefore, testing your blood sugar levels at the first sign of a problem is essential.

If your high blood sugar levels continue untreated, ketones can accumulate in your body. Ketones are toxic acids responsible for more serious health conditions. You may have abdominal pain and nausea or vomiting from ketones. Your mouth may feel dry. A common sign you may be severely hyperglycemic is a fruit-like smell emanating from your mouth or breath. If your urine is bloody, it is a sign you have too many ketones in your system and need immediate medical attention.

Prolonged High Blood Sugar Levels (Hyperglycemia) Causes More Severe Symptoms

Unlike low blood sugar levels, high blood sugar levels are not likely to cause you many cognitive symptoms. Although, you may experience some confusion at their onset. Instead, the physical symptoms caused by high blood sugar levels can multiply or worsen, if your hyperglycemia is prolonged. For example, prolonged or severe hyperglycemia can cause permanent nerve damage in your body. Foot pain, coldness or tingling is most common when nerves are damaged. Other symptoms can occur, such as:

  • Erectile dysfunction if you are male
  • Vaginal infections if you are female
  • Hair loss, especially on your legs

One of the biggest ways blood sugar levels can affect your health is, if you have hyperglycemia, you are at risk for diabetic kidney disease. Your body needs healthy kidneys. Your kidneys act as filters to remove toxins from your body to make urine. Prolonged hyperglycemic episodes can damage your kidneys over time. Kidney damage caused by diabetes over time is often unnoticeable without medical testing. Therefore, you must ask your doctor to test you for it, if you have frequent hypoglycemic episodes.

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