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The blood sugar level is the concentration of glucose present in the blood. Glucose is stored in skeletal muscle and liver cells in the form of glycogen. Glucose can be transported from the intestines or liver to other tissues in the body via the bloodstream. Cellular glucose uptake is primarily regulated by insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas. The body tightly regulates blood glucose levels as a part of metabolic homeostasis. Glucose levels are usually lowest in the morning, before the first meal of the day, and rise after meals for an hour or two by a few millimoles.
The international standard way of measuring blood glucose levels is in terms of a molar concentration, measured in mmol/L (millimoles per liter). In the United States, Germany, and other countries mass concentration is measured in mg/dL (milligrams per decilitre). The difference between the two units is a factor of 18 so that 1 mmol/L of glucose is equivalent to 18 mg/dL. Glucose is a simple sugar and approximately 4 grams of glucose is present in the blood of a 70-kilogram (150 lb) human at all times.
Many factors affect a person's blood sugar level.
The normal operation of Glucose Homeostasis (body's homeostatic mechanism of blood sugar regulation), restores the blood sugar level to a narrow range of about 4.4 to 6.1 mmol/L (79 to 110 mg/dL). The global mean fasting plasma blood glucose level in humans is about 5.5 mmol/L (100 mg/dL), this level fluctuates throughout the day. Normal blood glucose level for non-diabetics is between 3.9 and 7.1 mmol/L (70 to 130 mg/dL). Blood sugar levels for those without diabetes and who are not fasting should be below 6.9 mmol/L (125 mg/dL). The blood glucose target range for diabetics should be 5.0–7.2 mmol/l (90–130 mg/dL) before meals, and less than 10 mmol/L (180 mg/dL) two hours after meals.
The actual amount of glucose in the blood and body fluids is very small, to maintain an influx of glucose into cells, enzymes modify glucose by adding phosphate or other groups to it.
A persistent elevation in blood glucose leads to glucose toxicity, which contributes to cell dysfunction and the pathology grouped together as complications of diabetes. Blood sugar levels outside the normal range may be an indicator of a medical condition. A persistently high level is referred to as hyperglycemia; low levels are referred to as hypoglycemia. Diabetes mellitus is characterized by persistent hyperglycemia from any of several causes and is the most prominent disease related to the failure of blood sugar regulation.
There two types of hormones affecting blood glucose levels are catabolic hormones (glucagon, cortisol, and catecholamines) which increase blood glucose; and anabolic hormone (insulin), which decreases blood glucose.
These hormones are secreted from pancreatic islets (alpha (A) cells, beta (B) cells, Delta (D) cells, and F cells). Glucagon is secreted from alpha cells, while insulin is secreted by beta cells. Together they regulate the blood-glucose levels through negative feedback, a process where the end product of one reaction stimulates the beginning of another reaction. In blood-glucose levels, insulin lowers the concentration of glucose in the blood. The lower blood-glucose level (a product of the insulin secretion) triggers glucagon to be secreted and repeats the cycle.
The body's homeostatic mechanism keeps blood glucose levels within a narrow range. It is composed of several interacting systems, of which hormone regulation is the most important. In order for blood glucose to be kept stable, modifications to insulin, glucagon, epinephrine, and cortisol are made. Each of these hormones has a different responsibility to keep blood glucose regulated; when blood sugar is too high, insulin tells muscles to take up excess glucose for storage. Glucagon responds to too low of a blood glucose level; it informs the tissue to produce more glucose. Epinephrine prepares the muscles and respiratory system for activity in the case of a "fight and flight" response. Lastly, cortisol supplies the body with fuel in times of heavy stress.
Long-term hyperglycemia causes many health problems including heart disease, cancer, eye, kidney, and nerve damage. Blood sugar levels above 16.7 mmol/L (300mg/dL) can cause fatal reactions. The most common cause of hyperglycemia is diabetes. Diet changes and exercise implementation may also be part of a treatment plan for diabetes.
If blood sugar levels drop too low, a potentially fatal condition called hypoglycemia develops. Symptoms may include lethargy, impaired mental functioning; irritability; shaking, twitching, weakness in the arm and leg muscles; pale complexion; sweating; loss of consciousness.
Glucose is so important for metabolism and nutrition and the proper functioning of the body's organs, especially the case for those organs (eg: liver & brain) that are metabolically active or that require a constant, regulated supply of blood sugar. Mechanisms that restore satisfactory blood glucose levels after extreme hypoglycemia (below 2.2 mmol/L or 40 mg/dL) must be quick and effective to prevent extremely serious consequences of insufficient glucose.
Normally, your blood sugar goes up after you eat, which then signals your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin opens up your cells, so glucose can get in and then be converted into energy. Glucose is essential for your health because your body turns it into energy. Your body can’t convert glucose into energy without insulin produced by the pancreas. But when there’s too much sugar in your blood, your pancreas becomes overwhelmed and can’t produce enough insulin to keep up. This can cause a myriad of conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or heart disease.
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