How Do I Know if My Blood Sugar is too High?  

If you are fortunate enough to live without diabetes, a spike in your blood sugar likely won’t change how you are feeling. The symptoms of high blood sugar can be very subtle and are sometimes misconstrued as symptoms of a general illness.  

Nearly 96 million American adults have prediabetes, a condition characterized by higher-than-normal blood sugar levels. More than 80% of people with prediabetes are unaware they have it, which can be dangerous since prediabetes puts a person at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.   

If you already have diabetes, sky-high blood sugar can lead to a potentially deadly condition in which your body can’t process sugar.   

Normal blood sugar levels for people with and without diabetes  

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), normal, healthy blood sugar levels for adults after fasting (not eating for at least eight hours) and shortly after a meal are as follows:  

People without diabetes:  

Fasting: 70-99 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) 

1-2 hours after meals: Less than 140 mg/dL 

People with diabetes:  

Fasting: 80-130 mg/dL 

1-2 hours after meals: Less than 180 mg/dL 

The A1C test — also known as the hemoglobin A1C or HbA1c test — is a simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over an extended period, usually two to three months. It’s one of the commonly used tests to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes and is also the main test to help you and your primary health care provider manage your diabetes.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists a “normal” A1C reading as one that is below 5.7%. The ADA sets the A1C goal for most adults with diabetes at less than 7%. A1C at-home test kits can be purchased at most local pharmacies.  

What are signs that my blood sugar is higher than it should be?  

There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes, according to the ADA, which is why so many people don’t know they have it when they do. 

Hyperglycemia is the clinical term for high blood sugar, and it occurs when the body either doesn’t have enough insulin or can’t use insulin properly.  

Some of the early clues that you may have hyperglycemia are listed below. If you experience any number of them simultaneously you should schedule a visit with your doctor.  

  • Blurred vision 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Fatigue 
  • Frequent urination  
  • Headaches  
  • Increased Thirst 
  • Nausea and vomiting  
  • Recurrent infections, including bladder infections (cystitis), skin infections and thrush (a yeast infection that can develop in the mouth or throat)  
  • Unintentional weight loss  

Ways to keep blood sugar in check  

You should consider making a few lifestyle tweaks if you’ve experienced blood sugar scares. If you’re already diagnosed with diabetes, these treatment methods are still highly recommended:  

  • Eat smaller portions and healthy foods that are low in fat, low in calories and high in fiber. Eat an excess of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  
  • Up your physical activity levels and aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.  
  • Stop smoking.  
  • Try losing between 5 and 7 percent of your body weight. For instance, if you weigh 200 pounds, your goal should be to lose about 10 to 14 pounds.  

Photo credit: Getty Images

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