“Blood sugar” is also known as “blood glucose”.
In the United States, it is measured as the amount of glucose per quantity of blood (mg/dl). The glucose is measured in milligrams and the blood is measured in deciliters.
Countries which follow the metric system, i.e. Canada and the United Kingdom, measure blood sugar in millimoles per liter (mmol/L). This can be converted to mg/dl by simply multiplying the value by 18.
There is a normal level of blood sugar that should be maintained to allow a person to live a full and healthy life. Sugar is a form of sweet carbohydrate that dissolves in water. Our body mostly makes use of glucose. There are other types of sugars humans consume such as fructose in fruits and lactose in dairy. All types of sugar are converted to glucose by the body. Starch – a compound of sugars – can also be broken down by the body to create glucose. Glucose is a source of energy.
The normal range of blood sugar varies throughout the day. For a non-diabetic person, the fasting blood sugar i.e. the reading just after waking up from 7-8 hours of sleep is always below 100 mg/dl. Before having a meal, the sugar level could be as low as 70 md/dl or as high as 99 mg/dl. Two hours after meals the “postprandial” sugar level must be under 140 mg/dl.
These are the numbers reported for those without diabetes. For those who are diabetic, according to the American Diabetes Association, it is advisable to keep the blood sugar level before a meal between 80 and 130 mg/dl and the levels one or two hours after the meal should be less than 180. Many doctors recommend keeping the blood sugar level closer to the normal range of those without diabetes to avoid any complications. Lower numbers call for a strict diet and frequent monitoring of the blood sugar to prevent it from getting too low. However, it is manageable and many patients are successful in adhering to the routine.
The hemoglobin A1C is a long-term test to check glucose level and get an average reading for the previous two to three months and is expressed in terms of a percentage. The normal reading for a non-diabetic person is under 5.7% while those who are diabetic should aim for 7% or lower to keep their blood sugar under control.
People who do not have diabetes can maintain a normal blood sugar level due to proper insulin production. However, that function is damaged in people with diabetes and they need to consciously help their body maintain a normal level with the help of a balanced diet, exercise, reducing stress levels, drugs, and medications. The blood sugar level should not go too low as that could lead to hypoglycemia which causes a person to feel dizzy and even faint.