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What is the Connection Between Blood Sugar and Health?

Blood sugar and health are closely related. Both high blood sugar and low blood sugar levels can have short- and long-term effects on one’s health. For example, chronic high blood sugar is common to diabetics, and diabetes can cause a range of serious health problems. Knowing the signs and symptoms of blood sugar level irregularities can help in the identification and treatment of related health problems.

High blood sugar levels, also known as hyperglycemia, are caused by the body not generating enough insulin to process the amount of sugar in the blood. High blood sugar levels may be the result of eating too many carbohydrates or sugar-rich foods, or not getting enough exercise. High blood sugar levels in diabetics are the result of a deficiency in insulin production. The immediate, short-term effects of high blood sugar levels include dry-mouth, dizziness, fatigue and thirst.

Another immediate and more serious effect of high blood sugar levels is diabetic ketoacidosis, also known as a diabetic coma. Diabetic comas occur when a person with diabetes experiences significantly high blood sugar levels over an extended period of time, from several hours to several days. The precursors to a diabetic coma include shortness of breath, nausea, dry mouth, fruity-smelling breath and stomach pain; eventually the person will lose consciousness. Diabetic comas are a severe problem and, if someone is presenting these symptoms, help should be sought immediately.

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Consistently high blood sugar levels over an extended period, such as what occurs in someone with undiagnosed or untreated type 2 diabetes, is associated with several long-term side effects. If high blood sugar levels go untreated for many years, a person may suffer from nerve and small blood vessel damage in the eyes, kidneys and heart. This blood vessel damage means circulation suffers, which may cause complications in the extremities, especially the hands and feet. People with type 2 diabetes also suffer from a much greater risk of heart disease, blood clots, and stroke.

There is also a connection between low blood sugar and health, although its effects are largely short-term. Low blood sugar, also know as hypoglycemia, is most commonly found in diabetics who have taken too much insulin or antidiabetic pills, but it may also be found in healthy people who have missed a meal, drank too much alcohol. It also may be a symptom of a more severe disease, such as kidney or liver failure. Low blood sugar may cause trembling, heart palpitations, anxiety, hunger and irritability. More severe cases of low blood sugar result in confusion, headaches, and even seizure. For more mild cases of low blood sugar levels, people should be given juice or other high-sugar drinks or foods to raise their blood sugar; for more severe cases, people should be taken to the emergency room.

There are connections between blood sugar and health that must be addressed to prevent both long- and short-term health issues. Whether blood sugar is too high or too low, maintaining a regular blood sugar level can be assisted through a balanced diet and regular exercise. While many of the lesser symptoms of irregular blood sugar may be remedied at home, regular recurrence of these symptoms should be addressed with a doctor.

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