QUESTION: At what blood glucose level should you go to hospital? Could you please explain why and what happens for either cases hyper and hypo glycemia?
ANSWER: Hi there,
It is very good that you want to understand the important things about the glucose metabolism, but first you have to learn the basic things. For your information, the normal blood glucose level is 3.5 - 6.1mmol/l or 64.8 – 104.4 mg/dl, depending on the unit of measurement.
However, when the result of the blood glucose test is lower than 3.5mmol/l, respectively 64.8mg/dl, you are in the state of hypoglycemia. In this situation, there is not enough glucose, which can be transformed into energy.
In addition, some of the cells in the human body are requiring a lot of energy, like the brain cells. These cells are not able to execute their function, when the amount of glucose in plasma is low.
Because of this, when your blood glucose fall to 3.0mmol/l, they are stimulating your heart to beat faster, providing more blood with high glucose.
It is good to know that in this situation you may feel your own heartbeat and to start experiencing headaches.
Moreover, the brain cells are stimulating not only the heart to beat faster, but also your gastrointestinal tract to start metabolizing the food, leading to a feeling of hunger.
The best option for you is to eat something sweet immediately, when you notice hunger, headache and the palpitations. The chocolate for example, is containing a lot of sugar and respectively energy, helps you perfectly fight against hypoglycemia.
In case you don’t take actions and your blood glucose level continues to lower more than 2.2mmo/l (40mg/dl), seizures might occur.
Very often, this situation is related to losing consciousness and accidental falls, which requires instant medical attention.
With regards to the hyperglycemia, there is a different picture, because the organism is able to compensate it for a long period.
You have to know that a lot of people are not aware that they have blood glucose elevation, because they are not paying attention to the early symptoms like frequent hunger, frequent thirst and urinating a lot.
Besides this, it is normal for someone to have slight elevation of the blood glucose, after having a meal. This is observed, because the insulin needs time to put the glucose inside the cells.
If you notice some of these symptoms, please make a consultation with your doctor about eventual insulin therapy or adjustments in the insulin treatment.
In general, these symptoms are appearing when the blood glucose concentration is higher than 7mmo/l and 126mg/dl respectively (hyperglycemia).
The bad thing in here is that you are able to live with blood glucose elevation, but with the cost of organ damages. However, the organism is able to compensate this elevation up to certain point, which is 15mmol/l.
When the blood glucose elevation is permanent, the body starts to produce energy by metabolizing the fat acids. This leads to the production of ketone bodies, which are damaging the normal pH of the blood.
There are ups and downs in the ion concentration, caused by the changed pH, which sometimes makes the brain cells to stop working. In this situation, the patients fall in coma, also known as ketoacidosis coma, observed when the blood glucose concentration is higher than 20mmol/l.
You have to know which the early symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia are and how to treat them in purpose to avoid those conditions and the possible consequences.