Dangerous Blood Sugar Levels for Diabetics and Non Diabetics

Dangerous Blood Sugar Levels for Diabetics

There is no question that blood sugar levels are not static – rather, continually changing values – that can fluctuate many times throughout the day. For some people, these value changes are most affected by meal times and what types of foods are consumed. For other people, activity level plays a bigger part in variances from normal blood sugar levels. But, regardless, in both individuals with and without diabetes, there is no standard blood glucose measurement that is perfectly accurate at all times throughout the day. The challenge that both people with and without diabetes face is differentiating what could be considered dangerous blood sugar levels from natural sources or direct influences that pose little risk.

First, it’s important to understand the difference between levels of blood sugar (glucose) that are dangerous in contrast to those that are just elevated or even, “too high.” Elevated blood sugar levels can cause symptoms in diabetics including confusion, nausea and vomiting and even fainting. However, unless these symptoms are severe, that does not necessarily mean that they are dangerous. Elevated blood sugar levels can easily be brought on temporarily by a sugary meal, a stressful situation or too long of a period without physical activity. Not all of these situations are representative of dangerous blood sugar levels. Instead, these instances of elevated blood sugar levels warrant action steps to correct the situation and likely a follow up visit with a health care provider to ensure that care is adequate. Of course, to a diabetic, these symptoms might not be a cause for alarm. However, in a person with regularly normal blood sugar levels, they can seem like a more significant event, and likely are.

In terms of measurements, most diabetics try to keep their glucose levels in what is considered safe blood sugar levels. The term “safe” as it applies here refers to blood glucose levels suitable to prevent symptoms should it become too high or too low. This range of safe blood sugar levels in a diabetic individual goes from about 70 mg/dL up to 240 mg/dL. Conversely, in a non diabetic person, safe blood sugar levels range from around 70 to around 150 mg/dL. “Safe” may seem like an unusual word to describe what is commonly thought of as dangerous blood sugar levels, but it’s important to remember that diabetes itself causes elevated levels of blood glucose. So, it’s not completely shocking that the higher end of the safe range for sufferers is higher than in those without the condition.

That does not, however, mean that there is not an upper limit to what is considered a safe or manageable level of glucose in a person with diabetes. The magic number is 300, and for people who self monitor at home, two readings in a row that are at or above 300 mg/dL warrant an immediate call to or visit to a doctor. There are certain situations where this is more likely to happen. For instance, when people are ill they may sometimes encounter dangerous blood sugar levels as illness and infection can both increase the amount of glucose in the blood. Additionally, stress can also bring about blood sugar levels high enough to cause immediate concern and therefore evaluating the situation is as important as evaluating the reading itself.

In a person without diabetes, a value nearly a third less than that of someone with diabetes would constitute dangerous blood sugar levels. Because the high end of this value can and does change, it’s particularly important to understand that when and what was last eaten has a pretty large impact on this number. For instance, in a person without diabetes, blood glucose may reach as high as 200 mg/dL an hour after eating under normal circumstances and particularly after breakfast. However, for this value to be present prior to a meal or following fasting, it would certainly be indicative of dangerous blood sugar levels. 200 mg/dL, if present at the second hour following a meal is a commonly used benchmark to identify pre-diabetes. While not high enough to be considered a diabetic coma blood sugar level event, this value is still really important. It may not be immediately dangerous, but certainly indicates a problem or the development of a problem that could have long term implications on health.

There are many complications associated with dangerous blood sugar levels. Some of these occur over time as the condition worsens, and some of them are immediate and occur as fluctuations in blood glucose occur. For instance, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes, more frequent urination and thirstiness are common and everyday symptoms. But, vision problems and tiredness can both be longer term and more problematic indicators of higher levels of blood sugar. Regular occurrences of dangerous blood sugar levels can also lead to an often debilitating condition known as diabetic neuropathy. This condition refers to damage of the nerves as a result of high blood sugar. It predominantly affects the legs and feet, causing tingling, numbness and pain. In some cases, disability and death can occur as a result of diabetic neuropathy – a disease directly caused from long term nerve damage resulting from dangerous blood sugar levels over time.

In most cases, elevated levels of blood sugar are nothing to be urgently concerned about. The amount of glucose in the blood is affected by everything from carbohydrates to physical activity. Alcohol intake, stress, illness, injury and more can all play a role in causing spikes in blood sugar. For these reasons, many of the easiest methods for lowering blood sugar levels require little effort at all. Taking a walk or engaging in light physical activity is one of the best methods. Reducing stress or engaging in stress reducing activities can also be useful. Abstaining from sugary foods and drinks is also very important to lowering blood sugar levels when caused by diet or lifestyle. However, these methods are not appropriate for dangerous blood sugar levels. When more than one reading comes back over 300 mg/dL in a diabetic individual or any reading or test shows more than 200 mg/dL in a non-diabetic individual, it’s best to put home methods of lowering blood sugar levels to the side and reach out to a health care provider as quickly as possible.