Dysglycemia: How to Spot and Manage Sugar Imbalances

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Dysglycemia How to Spot and Manage Sugar Imbalances

When a person eats, his blood sugar rises. This sugar then becomes an energy source. Since this is a very important component of a person’s metabolism, the body tightly regulates this blood sugar level to maintain balance. However, the body can sometimes fail to maintain a balanced sugar level in the blood, leading to dysglycemia. But what exactly is dysglycemia and how can you save yourself from it? Read more to find out!

What is dysglycemia? 

Dysglycemia is a condition where there is a problem in regulating of blood sugar levels. The body is designed to maintain a normal blood sugar so when there is a change from the baseline, it signals the pancreas to either release insulin or glucagon to achieve the balance again.

Blood sugar balance or glucose homeostasis is controlled by the action of insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. When a person eats, blood sugar rises as a result of the breakdown of carbohydrates into simple sugars. This increase in blood sugar signals the pancreas to release insulin in the bloodstream. This stimulates the cells to take up excess sugar in the blood as well as signal the liver to take up glucose and store it as glycogen. This process will make blood sugar go back to its normal level. 

When the body experiences low blood sugar, the pancreas releases glucagon and this stimulates the breakdown of glycogen from the liver. This process releases glucose which then raises the blood sugar to achieve the balance of blood sugar. 

Source: Röder, P., Wu, B., Liu, Y. et al. Pancreatic regulation of glucose homeostasis. Exp Mol Med48, e219 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/emm.2016.6

Dysglycemia occurs when there is imbalance in the secretion and action of insulin in the body. There are two categories of dysglycemia: hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. Both of these types are harmful to the body


Hypoglycemia occurs when the blood sugar becomes very low. This occurs when the body produces too much insulin so the cells and liver take up blood sugar more than needed. Insulin sensitivity, or when cells become too sensitive to the presence of insulin in the blood, can also cause this condition. 

Another possible reason for hypoglycemia is when the liver doesn’t produce enough glucose in response to low blood sugar. This poor conversion of glycogen to glucose causes hypoglycemia. 


Hyperglycemia occurs when the blood sugar level becomes too high. When the body doesn’t create enough insulin, this condition happens. Another possible reason for hyperglycemia is when there is insulin resistance or when the insulin released by the pancreas does not work properly.

Prolonged high sugar levels can lead to diabetes. This can cause heart problems, kidney failure, eye problems, and even nerve damages. People with diabetes usually experience frequent episodes of hyperglycemia so it is very important that proper treatment is done immediately. 

According to WHO, diabetes has become one of the most common causes in recent years. The number of people suffering from diabetes has continuously risen, with a total of 422 million people recorded in 2014

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia are almost similar, with few striking differences. When you have hyperglycemia, you might experience the following symptoms: 

  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Headache 
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry mouth and increased thirst

When you have hypoglycemia, symptoms can look like this: 

  • Fatigue
  • Seizures 
  • Slurred speech
  • Excessive shaking
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Heart palpitations and shakiness

Diagnosing dysglycemia can be done by a series of laboratory tests.Hence, if you feel the mentioned symptoms, consult your doctor so he can order any or all of the tests below: 

  1. Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) test 

This test determines the glucose concentration in the blood after fasting for eight to ten hours. This test can identify diabetes or prediabetes. Normal fasting blood sugar levels typically range from 70 to 99 mg/dL (3.9 to 5.5 mmol/L).Any result higher than that can indicate diabetes or prediabetes. 

  1. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)

This test can indicate how well your body manages sugar. Levels of blood sugar are tested before and two hours after you drink a beverage that contains a set amount of sugar. This test helps diagnose gestational diabetes, prediabetes, and diabetes as results of 200mg/dl is considered abnormal. 

  1. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test 

This test provides a measure of your average blood sugar for the past three months. This measures the percentage of glucose bound to hemoglobin in red blood cells.This test is commonly used to diagnose and monitor diabetes as normal HbA1c levels are usually below 5.7%.

  1. Random Blood Sugar Test

This test measures blood sugar at any time of the day, regardless of the time you last ate. Results of 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) or higher may indicate diabetes. Hence, this test is also used to screen for diabetes.

  1. Continuous Glucose Monitoring (GCM) 

Unlike other tests that extract the blood to measure the sugar in the blood, this involves wearing a device that continuously measures blood sugar throughout the day. 

How to Manage 

Dysglycemia has a big impact on overall health. Hence, to avoid any complications and further effects on the health, it is very important to know how to manage it. Here are some ways one can manage their blood sugar levels: 

  1. Healthy diet

A balanced diet can help in controlling blood sugar levels. More focus should be in nutrient dense foods such as fruits and vegetables whilst avoiding foods that contain too much sugar and saturated fats like sugary beverages, cakes, ice cream, and many others. This will also help in managing weight. 

  1. Regular Exercise

Engaging in regular physical activity  can help maintain blood sugar levels. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, spread throughout the week.

  1. Regular blood sugar tracking or monitoring

Monitoring blood sugar is very important, especially if you have diabetes. This helps to avoid complications and prevent the worsening of the present condition. Using apps like Klinio can greatly help in tracking and monitoring blood sugar levels. This app offers a personalized yet science-based solution for managing re-diabetes and diabetes. 

  1. Medications

Sometimes, blood sugar levels can no longer be controlled by diet or exercise. In these cases, medications are important to avoid worsening the condition. It is very important to follow the doctor’s advice in order to control blood sugar. 


Blood sugar has a profound impact on various bodily functions. Normalizing blood sugar levels is crucial when dysglycemia occurs. Effective measures to achieve this include maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, utilizing mobile health apps, and adhering to prescribed medications. Failing to address dysglycemia can result in organ failure and potentially, mortality.

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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