Diabetes, Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia - What Does Blood Sugar Have to Do With It?
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Diabetes, Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia - What Does Blood Sugar Have to Do With It?

The blood sugar levels of diabetics must be closely monitored. The effects of insulin on blood sugar and the connection between diabetes, hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia is explained.

What does blood sugar have to do with diabetes? Why do diabetics test blood sugar levels?

What is Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition stemming from the body’s inability to produce or use insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to control blood sugar. After we eat a meal the food is converted to sugar or glucose to be used by the body for energy. That sugar is not available to us if it just sits in the blood stream as blood sugar. The sugar needs to get into the cells before we can use it. The purpose of insulin is to regulate the movement of blood sugar from the bloodstream into the cells.


Diabetics will be taking insulin in the form of injections to regulate their blood sugar. A normal blood sugar level is between about 72 to about 144 milligrams per deciliter. There are two scenarios that require treatment. One will be if the blood sugar is low and the other is when blood sugar is high. When blood sugar is low the diabetic will not treat with insulin but instead will treat with fast sugar such as candy or juice.

Hypoglycemia - Hypo rhymes with low

When an individual’s blood sugar falls below 70 we call this hypoglycemia. Early symptoms of hypoglycemia are shakiness, sleepiness or drowsiness, irritability, loss of mental alertness. It is often the case that diabetics are familiar with the feelings of dropping glucose levels and will report that they feel low or feel like they are dropping. If glucose in the form of fast sugar is not provided these symptoms can become significantly worse rather quickly even to the point of unconsciousness or seizure. The diabetic will test their blood sugar levels with a glucose monitoring kit. At this point if the blood sugar is close to the low end or below it is important for the diabetic to consume some fast acting sugar. Supplies of easily chewable sugar such as Smarties or a soft drink or juice should be kept on hand. There are also chewable glucose tablets available. It is important that the sugar is not in the form of a treat with fats in them such as chocolate or icing with butter since the presence of fat will slow the uptake of the glucose. Glucose gel is another form of sugar that can be squeezed into the mouth of a diabetic that is unable to help himself. It is placed a portion at a time between the cheek and gum and massaged so that the person will then swallow the gel as it dissolves. Another test is done 10 to 15 minutes later to see if the blood sugar is up to normal and treatment is repeated if necessary. This is an urgent condition and can rapidly move to an emergency situation if not treated.


When an individual’s blood sugar rises above 144 then we call this condition hyperglycemia. This condition tells us that insulin is needed to move that blood sugar out of the bloodstream and into the cells. The symptoms can be similar to that of hypoglycemia (low sugar). Long term high blood sugar can cause organ damage. It is important for the diabetic to get insulin to bring the blood sugar down. Again the diabetic will test their sugar level with the glucose meter. Their doctor will have made a treatment plan for them as to how much insulin to take according to their blood sugar level. The diabetic will likely take an insulin injection to correct the sugar level and if they are about to eat a meal will take additional insulin to cover the carbs that they will be consuming in that meal as well. Some diabetics have an insulin pump that provides a metered dosage throughout the day. If a pump is malfunctioning the sugar will begin to rise in the blood. If the blood sugar is high it is important for the diabetic to drink lots of sugar free beverages and allowed free access to the bathroom until the individual can correct his insulin and blood sugar levels.

The universal symbol for diabetes is a blue circle.

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Comments (3)
Ranked #31 in Diabetes

good article, I have diabetes

Ranked #38 in Diabetes

Thank you! I just had clinic aide training and had to be delegated to monitor kids with it. Our bodies are fascinating machines!

Ranked #31 in Diabetes

Judith unfortunately I wore mine out.