If you have type 2 diabetes, your body gradually stops making enough
insulin and becomes less able to use the insulin it does make
effectively. With too little insulin, your body cannot absorb glucose
from the food you eat and your blood sugar levels rise and become
harmful to your health.
Understanding the connection
between insulin, blood sugar and your average blood sugar levels over
time – also known as HbA1c – is important for controlling type 2 diabetes.
Why is HbA1c important?
HbA1c is a measure of your blood sugar levels over the last two to
three months. Your healthcare professional will perform a blood test
to measure your HbA1c and use this to set a target blood sugar range
If you have type 2 diabetes, every 1% drop in HbA1c reduces your
risk of complications. The HbA1c target ranges for people with
prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are shown in this image.
High and low blood sugar levels
While it is very important to stay within the target HbA1c range
determined by your doctor, it is normal for your blood sugar to
fluctuate throughout the day depending on many factors. However, it
can be dangerous if your blood sugar levels go above or below the
healthy range and are left untreated.
What is high blood sugar?
High blood sugar, known as hyperglycaemia or 'hypers', damage your
blood vessels. It can reduce the supply of oxygen and nutrient-rich
blood to your body's organs and nerves and, over time, cause serious
Controlling your high blood sugar levels will help you avoid
Stroke reduced eyesight or
Blocked circulation in the feet
What is low blood sugar?
Low blood sugar, known as hypoglycaemia or ‘hypos’, occurs when blood
sugar levels fall below 4.0mmol/L or 70 mg/dL.
High blood sugar is dangerous in the long-term, but low blood sugar
levels can also impact your health.
What are the signs of low blood sugar?
You may have already experienced low blood sugar without knowing it.
People with diabetes who are on medication need to be aware of the
signs and symptoms of low blood sugar. They can include:
Shakiness or feeling weak
Sweating, chills and
Light-headedness or dizziness
anxiety or irritability
Blurred or impaired vision
Low blood sugar and its symptoms can be dangerous and you need to
know what to do if they happen.
What causes low blood sugar?
You can experience low blood sugar for many reasons, including if you:
do unplanned exercise
have missed or delayed a meal
take too much insulin or insulin secretagogue
(insulin secretion inducers; sulfonyurea and glinides)
drink alcohol without food
Manage low blood sugar episodes
On average, studies show that people with type 2 diabetes on insulin
treatment experience 23 low blood sugar episodes (mild or moderate)
over a year.
The effects of low blood sugar can be different for everyone and
hypoglycaemia symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Repeated hypoglycaemia can, over time, lead to 'hypo unawareness',
where the warning symptoms of low blood sugar stop being felt, making
it harder to identify and more difficult to manage.
Download the Hypoglycaemia Profiler to help recognise and track your hypos.
It is important to speak with a doctor or a nurse if you are
experiencing low blood sugar. In some cases, it is a good idea to
drink a fruit juice or eat 3 candies in order to get immediate relief,
or eat 3 or 4 sugar tablets if you have them under the recommendation
of your doctor or nurse. Your doctor can help you find the best option
for you in case of hypoglycemia and may adjust the dose of your other
diabetes medicines to reduce the risk of low blood sugar.
Is type 2 diabetes putting you at risk of heart disease?
If you have read this blog post, you will know of the connection between
type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A complete understanding of diabetes
is still lacking including cure for diabetes, but doctors know how to
manage diabetes effectively.