The amount of sugar or glucose in the blood is measured as a "blood glucose" or "blood sugar". High blood sugar levels increase a patient's risk for many complications, including infection. Blood sugar often rises when we are stressed or during critical illness. Blood sugar will often remain elevated for prolonged periods of time during critical illness, even in patients who are not diabetic.

Blood sugar is the most frequently measured test in critical care. We often measure it using a handheld device at the bedside. The bedside device is called a "glucometer". We monitor blood glucose very closely and treat it with insulin as soon as it becomes elevated. Research evidence indicates that tight blood sugar control during critical illness can reduce infection and reduce many other complications associated with critical illness.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas. It causes glucose to move into the cells where it can be used to make energy. Diabetes Mellitus is a disease that causes the blood glucose to rise. Type I Diabetes is called Insulin Dependent Diabetes. Patients with this form of the disease are unable to produce insulin and require daily insulin therapy at home. Type I Diabetes was formerly called "Juvenile Diabetes".

Type II Diabetes or Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes (NIDDM) is a form of Diabetes that is caused by insulin resistance. It was formerly called "Adult Onset". Patients with NIDDM are still able to produce insulin, but their body has become resistant to it. NIDDM may be treated with oral agents that make the cells more responsive to insulin, or by dietary restrictions. Patients with NIDDM may develop insulin dependent diabetes.

Diabetes is a disorder of carbohydrate (sugars), fat and protein metabolism. It can lead to atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, neuropathies (loss of sensation), retinopathy (vision loss) and renal failure (kidney failure).






Last Reviewed: October 23, 2014