Does Your Family Know These Blood Sugar Facts?
This year, the focus of World Diabetes Day is all about family and diabetes, and we are celebrating by taking a close look at how families support each other in managing health. Can diabetes actually help families make health a priority? We think so—especially when families understand the demands of diabetes, and as a result their own individual health needs.
When it comes to managing diabetes, it is all about blood sugar. If blood sugar (or “blood glucose”) levels get too high or too low, it can drastically alter your mood, your well-being, and even your long-term health. But as important as blood sugar management is, for people without diabetes—like your friends and family—it can be a mysterious concept.
We put the following blood sugar facts together to share with your loved ones so they can better support you as you work to avoid dips and spikes. Make sharing this information fun by turning it into a game. Ask family members the questions below and track who gets the most right answers—the winner gets a reward like skipping out on washing dishes after dinner!
How many factors contribute to your blood sugar level?
Many people associate blood sugar with food, and it is true that your blood sugar levels are directly tied to what you eat, how much you eat, and when. But it is also true that there are other factors that can contribute to your blood sugar level at any given moment, 42 in fact, according to Adam Brown, author of Bright Spots and Landmines. This can include how much sleep you got the night before, whether you are sick or not, any allergies you have, how stressed you are, and even if you have a sunburn.1
Is the ideal blood sugar range different for everyone?
Yes! Even when you factor in how different your blood sugar levels are before or after a meal, those levels will look very different for people with and without diabetes. For example, a fasting blood sugar level between 70 and 99 is ideal for people without diabetes, but people with diabetes, many doctors recommend between 80 and 130.2 Your doctor will provide you with the range that is best for you.
Do blood sugar levels stay the same throughout the day?
No, they fluctuate over time. The time of day can impact your blood sugar based on your activities. Many people experience low blood sugar at night while sleeping, because it has been so long since they ate or were active. Your levels will be much lower before meals than right after. There is no “one number” you can shoot for all day to be healthy.3
What kinds of foods can help keep blood sugar levels in the safe zone?
Not all foods are made the same. Even among carbohydrate-heavy foods that can lead to high blood sugar, some foods have a high glycemic index and are more rapidly broken down into sugar. On the other end of the spectrum, foods high in whole grains or fiber—like vegetables or oatmeal—break down much more slowly and have been shown to help people with diabetes manage blood sugar levels effectively.4
Can you always feel it when your blood sugar gets too high or too low?
Not necessarily. When people experience hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), the effects can be intense, but that is not always the case. Hypoglycemia can lead to dizziness, sleepiness, and irritability among other symptoms, while hyperglycemia can cause symptoms like dry mouth, weakness, and headaches. But often those symptoms do not appear until blood sugar gets very low or very high. It is not a good idea to judge if your levels are off simply based on how you feel.5 You should always use a blood glucose meter or continuous glucose monitor to know exactly where your blood sugar is.
Is there one right way to monitor blood sugar daily?
There are many ways to monitor blood sugar. Some people use glucose meters with test strips and blood drawn from their fingertips for instant measurements. Others use continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) that are either implanted in their bodies or attached to them. There are also hybrid monitors called “flash glucose meters” (FGMs) that can monitor blood glucose continuously and offer instant readings. Each person is different, so your doctor will review your unique case and recommend the right solution to help you monitor your blood sugar effectively.
How many different ways are there to monitor blood sugar long-term?
Just one! Long-term blood sugar management is measured with a test called a Hemoglobin A1c, which measures average blood sugar levels over a three-month period. People with diabetes will take their “A1c” tests every few months as part of their regular doctor appointment.6
Diabetes presents you and your family with new opportunities to learn and grow in health together. You can learn more at (insert local Accu-Chek or Community site content page link).
Now your family understands these blood sugar basics, but there’s still a lot more to learn about diabetes.
Download the Family Field Guide to Diabetes to learn more about diabetes and how to communicate about it with your loved ones.
1 Brown, Adam. “Bright Spots & Landmines.” Bright Spots Landmines, DiaTribe, brightspotsandlandmines.org/. Accessed October 23, 2018
2 Spero, David. “What Is a Normal Blood Sugar Level?” Diabetes Self-Management, 27 Mar. 2018, www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/what-is-a-normal-blood-sugar-level/. Accessed October 23, 2018
3 Huizen, Jennifer. “What Are the Ideal Levels of Blood Sugar?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 20 May 2017, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317536.php. Accessed October 23, 2018
4 “Blood Sugar.” NutritionFacts.org, nutritionfacts.org/topics/blood-sugar/. Accessed October 23, 2018
5 “Diabetes Facts and Myths.” Edited by Steven Dowshen, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, Feb. 2018, kidshealth.org/CookChildrens/en/parents/diabetes-facts-myths.html. Accessed October 23, 2018
6 “A1C Test.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/a1c-test/about/pac-20384643. Accessed October 23, 2018