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What is the Connection Between Diabetes and Blood Sugar Levels?

By B. Koch
Updated May 17, 2024
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Individuals with diabetes are either unable to produce enough insulin or do not react to insulin the right way, resulting in chronically high blood sugar levels. There are a number of different types of diabetes, the most common of which are type 1 and type 2. Uncontrolled high blood sugar levels can, over time, cause health problems.

The connection between diabetes and blood sugar levels begins with the consumption of carbohydrates or sugars. As the body digests these foods, glucose is released into the blood. At the same time, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin that causes cells in the body to absorb this glucose so that it can be used by the cells as fuel.

In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune-system cells attack the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, resulting in a lack of insulin to control the body’s glucose levels. This type of diabetes requires life-long treatment. Individuals with type 2 diabetes produce a normal amount of insulin, but the body fails to respond to it. This insulin resistance often occurs in older adults, especially in the overweight and obese.

There are a number of warning signs that an individual may be experiencing diabetes and high blood sugar levels, including increased thirst and dry mouth, frequent urination, headaches, blurred vision and fatigue. Individuals with type 1 diabetes may experience more severe, emergency symptoms such as confusion, shakiness, rapid breathing, abdominal pain and loss of consciousness. In case of these symptoms, emergency help should be sought.

Over time, major health problems can arise if diabetes and blood sugar levels are left uncontrolled. Too much glucose in the blood can damage blood vessels and result in poor circulation. Poor circulation can result in a number of medical problems, including nerve and vision damage, numbness in the extremities and an inability to successfully heal wounds, which may lead to complications such as infection and amputation. Other side effects of uncontrolled diabetes and blood sugar levels include kidney damage and a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

Diabetes and blood sugar levels can be controlled in a number of ways. Individuals with type 1 diabetes require regular medications such as insulin injections to control their diabetes and blood sugar levels. Overweight individuals experiencing type 2 diabetes can often lessen the symptoms of diabetes by controlling their weight. Diet and exercise can also help diabetes and blood sugar levels in individuals with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Consuming less glucose results in lower blood sugar levels, and exercise helps to metabolize any excess sugar in the blood.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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