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Living with diabetes is like walking on a tightrope, as anyone who has it knows. It’s a never-ending balancing act to stay in range without too many high (hyperglycemic) or low (hypoglycemic) blood sugars.

What does it mean to have a healthy blood sugar level?

A typical fasting blood sugar level is less than 100 mg/dL, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Prediabetes is defined as a fasting blood sugar level of 100 to 125 mg/dL, whereas diabetes is defined as a level greater than 125 mg/dL.


Fasting Blood Sugar


Less than 100 mg/dl


100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl


126 mg/dl or higher



If you test your blood sugar two hours after eating or drinking something containing sugar instead (an oral glucose tolerance test), the numbers to look for are:

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test


Less than 140 mg/dl


140 mg/dl to 199 mg/dl


200 mg/dl or higher


This means that, for the most part, your blood sugar at the time of diagnosis will not cause long-term difficulties, and the rise you experienced last week from eating an ice cream will have no long-term consequences.

However, most people will develop diabetic problems as a result of chronic, long-term high blood sugars (imagine a lifetime of diabetes with an average, all-time blood sugar of 200 mg/dL).

What does it mean to have a blood sugar level that is too high?

When blood sugar levels exceed the prescribed 120 mg/dL in persons with diabetes, it’s considered high; nevertheless, a blood sugar level of 145 mg/dL is usually not an issue (especially if you’re going to sleep or exercising).

When blood sugar levels hit 180-200 mg/dL, most people become aware of their condition.

Any blood sugar over 250 mg/dL necessitates a urine ketones test to ensure you aren’t sliding into diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

When the blood in the body becomes acidic as a result of dangerously high blood sugar levels and ketones in the blood, this is known as ketoacidosis. If you don’t get help right away, you could die. This can happen when you’re unwell or fighting an infection, or if you forget to take your insulin for a few days.

Sadly, roughly 25% of newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes patients die.

What are the signs and symptoms of blood sugar levels that are too high?

Depending on the degree of the high blood sugar, the symptoms can differ. When your blood sugar is about 200 mg/dL but not dangerously high, you may notice the following signs and symptoms:

  • Thirst for water
  • Urination problems
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Vision is slightly hazy
  • Headache

Symptoms of elevated blood sugar in the later stages

You may encounter the following symptoms if you have ketones and are at risk of developing DKA:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Breath with a fruity odor
  • Loss of saliva
  • Loss of body weight
  • Weakness
  • Profound exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Muscles in excruciating pain
  • Vision is quite hazy
  • Exhaustion
  • Coma

Seek medical assistance right away if you’re suffering any of the later-stage signs of high blood sugar

Do Low Blood Sugar Poses a Risk?

  • Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can swiftly escalate into a life-threatening condition. If hypoglycemia is not addressed, diabetic coma and death can develop swiftly.
  • Low blood sugars do not usually result in long-term issues (unless someone suffers from brain swelling and a severe brain damage as a result of going into a diabetic coma), but they do result in frequent, short-term complications such as being physically unable to perform. They need to be treated with fast-acting glucose (or a Glucagon shot).
  • Low blood sugar symptoms can appear at any time, and some people may be completely ignorant of their low blood sugar levels (a condition known as hypo unawareness), which can be extremely dangerous.
  • Diabetes alert dogs and continuous glucose monitoring systems can help patients notice low blood sugar levels sooner, before they become life-threatening.
  • Hypo unawareness affects roughly 40% of persons with type 1 diabetes, whereas it affects type 2 diabetics less frequently.
  • Low blood sugar can occur for a variety of causes, all of which are caused by an excess of insulin in the bloodstream and a lack of glucose for appropriate bodily function.


  • Taking too much insulin for food, over-blousing with an insulin pump by accident, not finishing a meal, drinking too much alcohol, or not decreasing basal insulin settings adequately after physical activity and exercise are all possible causes.

Blood sugar levels that are too high or too low should be avoided.

It’s not easy to walk the tightrope of diabetes life. Every day, we must fight to keep our blood sugar levels from rising too high or falling too low, which can be exhausting.

Tips to help you maintain a healthy blood sugar level

  • Consume carbohydrate-dense foods and meals in a consistent manner.
  • Prepare your meals at home so you know exactly what’s in them.
  • Stick to a daily schedule and eat at the same times.
  • Make sure you get adequate rest!
  • Double-check your insulin dosages to ensure you’re not taking too much or too little insulin.
  • Eat everything if you’ve counted carbs for a meal and dosed insulin for those carbs.
  • Keep quick-acting glucose and glucagon on hand at all times.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions for insulin and diabetic medicine.
  • If you’re having trouble detecting low blood sugars, use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) or buy a diabetes alert dog.
  • Wear a diabetes wristband to let others know you’re diabetic.
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol when you’re hungry.


As your life circumstances change, work with your doctor to adjust your insulin requirements (puberty, pregnancy, aging, training for a race, etc.)

High and low blood sugars can become constant, but they don’t necessarily have to become terrifying and deadly. Treat all high and low blood sugars early and often, before they become harmful.

Using these tactics can help you better plan for and (hopefully) prevent many of them from happening again in the future.



According to the American Diabetes Association,