When it’s time for your annual checkup, your doctor will probably order some routine blood tests to check basic health indicators like white and red blood cell counts, cholesterol levels and blood glucose level — also known as your blood sugar. Patients generally get phone calls later letting them know that their blood work was fine, but what happens when the results show a reading in an abnormal range?
When it comes to blood glucose, a high reading could indicate diabetes, a disease that requires a specific diet and possibly medication. It depends on the number and the circumstances at the time of the test. Blood glucose levels can be temporarily impacted by eating and drinking, for example. In most cases, your doctor will repeat the glucose blood test while you are fasting and possibly order more extensive tests to determine if your blood glucose is consistently high. Here’s what you need to know about the results.
What Does Glucose Do for the Body?
Your body needs a certain amount of glucose (sugar) to run properly. Without it, your cells and organs wouldn’t have the energy they need to function. Most of the glucose in the human body comes from the foods we eat. As the glucose builds up in your blood after eating, insulin — a hormone made by the pancreas — enables the glucose to enter other cells in your body to be used as energy. This process keeps your blood sugar level within a normal range.
If there isn’t enough insulin in your body (Type 1 diabetes) or your body doesn’t use the insulin properly (Type 2 diabetes), your blood glucose level builds up. Chronic high blood sugar levels can cause severe health problems, including heart disease, kidney disease and stroke.