Subtle Signs Your Blood Sugar is Too High

2022-06-11 12:48

I am MD and I am a Board-certified endocrinologist in private practice in New York City and I am voluntary faculty at Lenox Hill Hospital. I am also board-certified in obesity medicine. My practice primarily focuses on general endocrinology which includes many patients with both type one and type two diabetes as well as pre-diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, insulin resistance, overweight, obesity and other endocrine conditions such as thyroid disorders, osteoporosis, menopause and more. Knowing about glucose is very important to optimizing one's health given that many chronic conditions in this modern day can be linked to excess of glucose (from this point onward, the term glucose will be used interchangeably with the word "sugar") throughout the body which, in turn creates insulin resistance. 

Why You Should Worry About High Blood Sugar

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, an important organ in the abdomen near the stomach. The pancreas produces insulin in response to glucose intake, ingested primarily in the form of carbohydrates. Fructose is another type of dietary sugar (fruits, added sugars in processed foods, sugary drinks) that is metabolized slightly differently than glucose but can also produce a slight blood glucose elevation (aka sugar spike). 

In order to regulate blood sugar levels, insulin is produced whenever carbohydrates are ingested and over time with repeated intake of these foods, repeated glucose and insulin spikes, resistance to the hormone insulin may develop. Because of this resistance, the body has to over-produce insulin and high insulin levels or hyperinsulinemia is part of the underlying cause of many chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease and those which make up metabolic syndrome: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, prediabetes and diabetes, overweight/obesity. Elevated glucose levels cause damage to tissues in the body, especially blood vessels — large and small. The small blood vessels are especially vulnerable and when negatively impacted, they can lead to eye disease, kidney disease, nerve disease and dementia. 

Knowing what spikes one's glucose levels (and therefore insulin levels) and keeping glucose levels better controlled ultimately leads to better health. Normal blood glucose levels are less than 100 mg/dL upon waking after an overnight fast and less than 140 mg/dL 2 hours after the start of a meal. Subtle glucose spikes may not produce symptoms. People typically experience the classic symptoms of high blood sugar when their glucose levels are over 250 mg/dL but some who are sensitive may have symptoms at levels between 180-250 mg/dL. Read on to find out signs your blood sugar is too high.

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