That 140 number and damage

I hope I don't start a big debate with this thread but I think I might. It is just meant for a question for me to reach greater understanding on my D.

Many of us on here subscribe to the "over 140 is when damage occurs" - I have been using it as my guide. Althought I rarely go above 120 even. I have a question...

If you are over 140, how long do you have to be over that number for any damage to start occuring?

A girlfriend of mine who is on her way to becoming a doctor and has worked with many diabetics said that you have to be continuously high (she didn't mention a certain number but I am using the 140 that many of us use here), or over that "damage number", for a long period of time (like many years) for damage to start occuring.

To be more direct, is being above 140 for a few hours inflicting any damage (meaning that you go down below 140 in a few hours)? I do know from reading on here and other places that even if you do incur some damage if you once your your BGs under control that some healing can occur.

Maybe there is no answer to this question but just wondering if any one has any info on this (or insights).

I am not freaking out about my few over 140 times because I have a new A1C of 4.9 (although I probably had a lot of them before diagnosed with an FBG of 205 I must have!) just trying to understand yet another thing in my continually learning of my disease.

For example, yesterday, I went to a dinner at a restaurant. I had a lunch but it was very low carb (I have been readjusting my testing schedule or skipping lunch testing in the interest of saving money on strips). I drove to my dinner and tested before I ate and for some reason I was at 153! It had been over 3 hours since I ate anything (although I was drinking my zevia cola which doesn't usually spike me).

My guess was that is was adrenaline (or maybe dehydration) - which seems to cause me more problems than food does (and even worse can't seem to control it!). After I had my dinner (which even had a little pasta in it) AND forgot my Met pill at home, I tested two hours later, took my pill and I had gone down to 140. Very Weird! I can control my food but not my stupid hormones!

I think your girlfriend is right. And a BG of 140 is not that high to some of us (me included). I don’t have to do anything “wrong” but can still spike above the 200 mark. (just finished antibiotics for an ear infection and my BGs were everywhere).
So that would mean that noone could ever get sick (which can send BGs soaring) take steroids for other auto immune diseases (again can send Bgs thru the roof) or get stressed . Years of poor control and/or being diabetic from a very young age might be a better indicator of damage at some point.

Thanks Kathyann for your insights. Yes, I am hoping that she is right! I was just curious if anyone knew of a time period it takes to happen. For us women too, we have to worry about estrogen raising our blood sugar, not to mention of the other hormones that raise it!

Studies now indicate that cellular damage starts after 2 hours of >140 bg.

Believe this topic has been discussed before. The answer is that no one knows. Seems logical that the longer BG is high the harder it is on our bodies. A few hours here & there shouldn’t be risky. Sustained high BG is damaging, but don’t ask me how long is sustained:) It’s inevitable that diabetes is going to cause BG over 140 frequently.

Fluctuating between highs & lows is extremely hard on us & something those of us on insulin struggle with daily.

Personally, I had an EMG test and it was found that I have mild sensorimotor peripheral neuropathy (symptoms: numb toes and sometimes prickly/burning pain in little toes) which has been going on for over 2 years. Heres the kicker, I was just diagnosed in April 2010. Before that for several years, many times a year, my bgl was routinely tested at doctor visits (not because of concern for diabetes, but because of other health issues). My highest reading was 128 which was taken one hour after eating a huge cinnamon roll (a reading that a normal person could/would have after eating that item). When the EMG results came back, the report said that my PN was the kind seen with chronic diabetes. So I asked my doctor and he was also surprised and could think of only two reasons: one, just kind of dumbluck when testing at the doctor’s office and maybe I was spiking very high but coming down into normal range afterwards, secondly, I have been chronically anemic for several years and anemia can make your testing number’s lower than they really are. I suppose it could be a combination of both, either way, now I know and I am working very hard with carb control to keep my numbers below 140 which I have been able to do…with the help of meds also.

i agree with your doc friend, at least that’s the (sugar free) kool-aid i’m drinking. otherwise, would be a serious danger after 50 years with D. my control is very good, but even so, there had to be times when i was above 140 for an extended period (such as the '60s, when there were no meters, one shot of nph a day, etc.) as it is, i’m fantastically healthy and complication free so i offer myself as exhibit a for your friend’s theory.

Thanks S Woodward - you wouldn’t happen to have a link to this study?

Hi Gerri,

yes, I know it has sort of been discussed. But I don’t think the time range really was and I was just wondering if anyone had any knowledge on it. But thanks for your answer. Very true, I think - no one really knows - We are all so different - I think damage will probably happen quicker in some than others. It really depends on your body. I hope that if one does sustain any damage that having your blood sugars under control, let your body heal. I think there are several members on here that can be a testment to that. Which makes me worry less about getting any damage (I mostly worry about eye or feets).

Hey Duck! Thanks for all your comments. I am glad you do not stress much any more about the numbers. I wouldn’t say I am “stressed” about going over the 140 at times - but I definately wouldn’t want to do it everyday. I can imagine there might be times I go over but just don’t know it because it doesn’t show up on my meter at my testing times.

I am not really worried about what I eat. But my goal now is to avoid any complications as much as I can and, for me, if that involving getting rid of certain foods so be it. But than again, I could never eat like you. I would burst! :slight_smile: I simply do not need that much food in a day. I have always eaten “like a bird”. I guess food in general doesn’t play a hugely important role in my life except in the arena that it has to be vegan (which makes me unique in my food choices already). I actually have thought several times in my life that foods takes up my time. And it would be easier (and cheaper!) to just pop a pill (kinda like Wille Wonka and that food gum!) and not have to stop and eat. Not that I don’t enjoy certain foods but most of the foods I did enjoy before D and pretty much on the “will spike me too high” list. I guess I am of the school of thought that no food is worth damage. But keep in mind, I am a master at the “art” of diet modifciation - being a veg will do that too you… I used to giving things up and changing my diet around so when I had to do it, yet again, for D, once I figured out what I need to do - the rest was easy for me. I don’t fall in for craving too often. Kinda weird when I look back on it - my life really has revolved around food quite a lot! I guess I am lucky - I have alot of willpower in regards to food. I realize not everyone is like that though. I am OK with my diet right now - there is some stuff I am still figuring out and I will make mistakes too. :slight_smile:

So, in conclusion, I guess I like to do what I can to control that number but there are lots of factors I can’t control that might send me higher like hormones. If the number goes high, than hey, it is already there so what can I do right but let it go back down?. But I want to do what I CAN to make sure the number doesn’t go up that high (if I can control it) - at least on a daily basis. To me, it is worth it to give up some things to avoid those complications - it is bad enough I have this, I don’t want complications too.

Thats great DC Reporter! Glad to here that after all that time, you are still complication free (makes me feel better and worry less! ) :slight_smile: I hoping this will be me in 50 years!

Thanks Tom!

Hmm, I really don’t know. I am on Metformin and it was my understanding that Met stops the liver from producing glucose so I am not sure if I would have a dump. But I don’t know how exactly that works (that is one of the things I would like to know but there are no books on how diabetes really “works” in your body unfortunatley!)

Are you meaning that maybe I need to keep a certain level of carbs in my body at all times (therefore maybe I should eat snacks in between meals - which I don’t really right now).? This is an interesting theory.

That is interesting about the anemia. I know I have been borderline most of the time. Don’t know about right know though. I have taken iron supplment before. I was thinking about it again. I can’t afford to have the test done.

I know my dad has problems with his one foot and calf that mimic the symptoms of neuropathy but he doesn’t have diabetes. They think it is because he had hip replacement that didn’t go great and caused this nerve problem in his foot.

Very true John. My dad has the foot neuropathy caused by other health problems. But no diabetes!