Sugar is the fuel that powers cells throughout the body. Blood levels of this energy source ebb and flow naturally, depending on what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat. But, when something goes wrong and cells aren’t absorbing sugar effectively, the resulting high blood sugar can damage nerves, blood vessels, and organs.
The A1c blood test measures average blood sugar level over the previous three months. A normal reading is below 5.7%. A reading between 5.7% and 6.5% indicates prediabetes and a reading above 6.5% indicates diabetes. Any reading above normal means that toxic amounts of sugar are building up in your bloodstream.
Often, high blood sugar causes no obvious symptoms, at least at first. However, as more sugar circulates in the blood, the body tries to get rid of it by spilling the excess sugar into the urine which draws water out of the body. So, one of the first signs of high blood sugar is frequent urination and increased urine volume. This, in turn, causes dehydration making you thirsty. Some people also feel extremely hungry and may have headaches. Another early symptom of high blood sugar is fatigue. A person with high blood sugar can feel tired, weak and sleepy while performing normal day-to-day activities.
The longer-term complications of chronic high blood sugar (diabetes), are well-known and affect the body from head to toe. High blood sugar, untreated, causes serious irreversible damage to your eyes, kidneys, brain, and cardiovascular and nervous systems. Diabetes is the major cause of limb amputations.
Many people don’t know they have diabetes because the symptoms build subtly over time. But, being attentive to the early signs of high blood sugar can prompt you to have an A1c test. If the A1c test confirms high blood sugar seek treatment immediately to avoid serious health consequences down the road.
The best approach, of course, is prevention. Adopt lifestyle habits that naturally keep your blood sugar in the healthy range. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating right and exercising regularly all contribute to keeping your blood sugar in check.