Many Americans have diabetes: 29.1 million (9.3%) Americans have diabetes. Diabetes is one of the silent diseases, requiring a simple test for diagnosis.
Having too much blood sugar is called hyperglycemia and often occurs in Diabetes type 1 (autoimmune condition) or Diabetes type 2 (insulin resistant, linked to extra weight). Recall the classic signs of diabetes are: frequent urination, intense thirst, and ravenous hunger. High blood glucose, when filtered through the kidney allows for glucose to spill over from the blood into the urine, pulling water along with it. This causes frequent urination and dehydration, which accounts for increased thirst.
Insulin is your necessary friend because it allows glucose in the blood to enter cells, cells require glucose for energy. Most-but not all- cells require insulin before glucose can enter. Insulin removes excess glucose from the blood- very important because excessive glucose causes damage to vessels and nerves. As my old Mechanical Engineering Professor would always say, “We live in a Goldilocks World” and blood glucose is no exception, excess blood glucose (especially greater than 400 mg/dL) is dangerous (conversely, blood sugar too low (less than 40 mg/dL) is dangerous and can render a person comatose, cause brain damage, and result in death).
This is why Uncontrolled high blood sugar is bad. It leads to degenerative cardiovascular and neurological diseases. It damages small to medium blood vessels and peripheral nerves. Nerve damage (neuropathies) are the most common complication of diabetes leading to impotence, incontinence, and loss of sensation. Neuropathies can be severe, resulting in gangrene and need for amputation. Hyperglycemia decreases immunity, slows wound healing, increases likelihood of infections. There is evidence that diabetes (elevated blood sugar) increases dementia risks by 2x (Some people refer to Alzheimer’s as “Diabetes of the brain”). High blood glucose promotes high triglycerides, high LDL cholesterol, atherosclerosis (thus cardiovascular disease), and poor circulation. Degenerative changes may occur within the small vessels in the eye and in the kidney (renal damage). Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to blindness.
What is your fasting blood sugar?
Fasting blood sugar, ideally is between 80-90 mg/dL (the conventional normals are between 65-110 mg/dL). It is often ideal to screen for pre-diabetes or diabetic changes by testing fasting blood glucose annually. It is a good idea-yet, rarely done- to order a fasting insulin test; this is a sensitive test which can indicate elevated insulin which may indicate future insulin resistance, allowing us to make proactive life and treatment changes preventing insulin resistance and diabetes (type 2) in the future.
Remember, prevention is the best cure.
Live Well & Prosper.