There’s a lot of talk about diabetes and blood sugar these days – what’s that all about? And how are you supposed to know if your levels are high or low? Let’s start by understanding a bit more about what blood sugar is.
What is blood sugar and where does it come from?
Our blood sugar level is measured by the amount of glucose in our blood. Our body creates glucose by breaking down the food we eat, especially carbohydrates (for example, anything made with wheat or high-carb vegetables like potatoes), foods naturally high in sugar (like fruit), and of course processed sugar.
If we’re healthy and generally eat well, our body naturally regulates those levels and uses what it needs to function. A substance called insulin, which is produced by our pancreas, helps with this process. If our system goes out of balance though, our blood sugar levels may end up too high or too low.
This can happen for many reasons, for example:
- Eating a lot of unhealthy food
- Medication e.g. treatment for malaria
- Too much alcohol
- Kidney, liver or adrenal conditions
- Other illnesses like hepatitis, anorexia or a tumour
- Genetic predisposition
How do I know what my blood sugar level is?
Symptoms of high blood sugar (also known as hyperglycemia) include:
- Blurry vision
- Hot, dry skin
- Urinating a lot
- A dry mouth
- Being thirsty or hungry all the time
If you have low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia), you might have these symptoms:
- Going pale
- Tingling skin
- Heart palpitations
- Struggling to concentrate
- Feeling confused or disoriented
- Aggression or paranoia
- Sudden mood changes
Either of these conditions can be dangerous and may lead to diabetes and seizures. So if you have any of these symptoms regularly, visit your local clinic or pharmacy to get a blood test done. The good news is that once you’re aware of it, blood sugar levels can be controlled through diet or in extreme cases, medication. So play it safe and get informed – the earlier the better.