How Can I Tell If My Blood Sugar Is Irregular
Again, only a doctor can diagnose a problem with your blood sugar. But you may be wondering how to know if it’s something you should get checked out. There can be two main issues with your blood sugar — either it’s consistently too high or too low. Even if you don’t have diabetes, there are some signs that your blood sugar levels are not functioning normally.
Hypoglycemia is a condition in which your blood sugar is too low. Signs include an irregular heartbeat, fatigue, shakiness and tingling or numbness in your face. If you consistently feel this way when you get hungry or between meals, talk to your healthcare provider.
On the flipside, hyperglycemia happens when your blood sugar is too high, and can happen to nondiabetics. Symptoms include frequent urination, increased thirst and headache. If you think you’re hyperglycemic and can’t keep fluids or food down, call for emergency medical assistance.
How Often Should I Check My Blood Sugar
The number of times that you check your blood sugar will depend on the type of diabetes that you have and the type of medicine you take to treat your diabetes. For example, people who take insulin may need to check more often than people who do not take insulin. Talk with your health care team about how often to check your blood sugar.
The common times for checking your blood sugar are when you first wake up , before a meal, 2 hours after a meal, and at bedtime. Talk with your health care team about what times are best for you to check your blood sugar.
How Do I Prevent Hyperglycemia
- Exercise to help lower blood sugar. Work with your healthcare provider to make a daily activity plan.
- Follow your meal plan if you have one. Learn how carbohydrates impact your blood sugar, and work with your diabetes care team to find the best meal plan for you.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Dont smoke.
- Limit drinking alcohol. Alcohol can raise blood sugar levels, but can also cause dangerously low blood sugar levels. Work with your provider to determine how much is safe to drink.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/12/2020.
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What Else Can You Do To Control Blood Sugar Levels
Yes. People with diabetes should wear identification stating they have diabetes and whether they have recurrent low blood sugar. Those at risk for the health condition should be counseled on checking blood sugars before they drive a car, operate heavy machinery, or do anything physically taxing. In addition, it is important to carry a quick-acting glucose source at all times, and keep a source in their car, office, and by their bedside. Efforts should be made to minimize the hypoglycemic effects of drug regimens and to avoid variable surges in exercise, activity, and drinking alcohol.
High Blood Sugar Levels
Excess glucose, often known as hyperglycemia, is a disease in which there is an excessive amount of glucose circulating in the blood. Hyperglycemia is a major issue that may have severe consequences for both Type 1 diabetics and Type 2 diabetics. High blood sugar levels are present if they are more than 130 mg/dL before a meal and 180 mg/dL after a one-two hour gap between meals.
These are some symptoms of High Blood Sugar Levels:
Blurred vision: You start to see blurriness around the edges of your sight.
Dehydration: Your body is craving water because it knows that you are dehydrated, but cant tell you because theres too much sugar in your system. You may also start to notice a dry or sticky feeling on the roof of your mouth and throat area when this happens.
Fatigue: You feel tiredness in your body. Because of this, you may face difficulty in doing day-to-day activities.
Frequent Urination: Your body is trying desperately to flush out excess sugar through your urine stream. This can lead you to urinate more often than normal or even at night while sleeping.
Hunger Pangs/Cravings for Sweets: Your body is hungry because it needs a steady supply of energy, but you cant get any from the excess sugar in your system.
Weight Gain: Excess sugar leads to weight gain over time and less muscle mass, which will make losing weight more difficult later on down the road.
High blood sugar levels are usually caused these reasons:
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When Are Hypoglycemia And Hyperglycemia An Emergency
Mild hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia are usually treatable at home.
If you have mild hypoglycemia, consuming a small amount of glucose can quickly raise your blood sugar.
If you skipped a dose of medication and have symptoms of mild hyperglycemia, taking your insulin or diabetes medication can help stabilize your blood sugar level.
Hypoglycemia is an emergency if you experience confusion, blurry vision, or seizures.
Hyperglycemia is an emergency if you have:
- shortness of breath
What Is The A1c Test
The A1C test is a simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 2 or 3 months. The test is done at a lab or your doctors office in addition tonot instead ofregular blood sugar testing you do yourself.
A1C testing is part of the ABCs of diabetesimportant steps you can take to prevent or delay health complications down the road:
- A: Get a regular A1C test.
- B: Try to keep your blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg .
- C: Manage your cholesterol levels.
- s: Stop smoking or dont start.
The A1C goal for most adults with diabetes is between 7% and 8%, but your goal may be different depending on your age, other health conditions, medicines youre taking, and other factors. Work with your doctor to establish a personal A1C goal for you.
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How Do I Pay For These Tests And Supplies
Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans pay for the A1C test and some of the cost of supplies for checking your blood sugar. Check your plan or ask your health care team for help finding low cost or free supplies. Ask your health care team what to do if you run out of test strips. For more information about Medicare and diabetes, go to .
Warning Signs Of Low Blood Sugar
Hypoglycemia can cause both short- and long-term complications. Know the signs so that you can treat the condition as soon as you’re aware of it.
As a person living with diabetes, you know how important it is to reduce blood sugar when it is too high, a phenomenon called hyperglycemia. But blood sugar that is too low, or hypoglycemia, is equally critical to avoid.
“Hypoglycemia happens when the amount of blood glucose drops to a level that’s too low to sustain normal functioning,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES, who is based in Sparta, New Jersey. “In most people, this is defined as a blood sugar level at or below 70 milligrams per deciliter .”
Hypoglycemia is common among people with type 2 diabetes, according to a review published in June 2015 in the journal PLoS One. Individuals with the condition had an average of 19 mild or moderate episodes of hypoglycemia per year and nearly one severe episode per year on average, according to the researchers. Low blood sugar was particularly common among those taking insulin.
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This decrease in blood sugar levels can cause both short-term complications, like confusion and dizziness, as well as more serious issues, including seizures, coma, and, rarely, death, according to the American Diabetes Association .
Hypoglycemia is usually the result of a too-high dose of insulin or a change in diet or exercise habits, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
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How Can I Treat And Manage Hyperglycemia
People with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can manage hyperglycemia by eating healthy, being active, and managing stress. In addition, insulin is a critical part of managing hyperglycemia for people with type 1 diabetes, while people with type 2 diabetes may need oral medications and eventually insulin to help them manage hyperglycemia.
If you dont have diabetes and have any of the signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia, call your healthcare provider. Together you can work to manage your hyperglycemia.
What Causes A Low Blood Sugar Level
In people with diabetes, the main causes of a low blood sugar level are:
- the effects of medicine especially taking too much insulin, medicines called sulfonylureas , medicines called glinides , or some antiviral medicines to treat hepatitis C
- skipping or delaying a meal
- not eating enough carbohydrate foods in your last meal, such as bread, cereals, pasta, potatoes and fruit
- exercise, especially if it’s intense or unplanned
- drinking alcohol
Sometimes there’s no obvious reason why a low blood sugar level happens.
Very occasionally, it can happen in people who do not have diabetes.
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Why Is It Important To Recognize A Low Blood Sugar Level
Low blood sugar levels can happen with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Low levels are more likely to happen if you use insulin. Hypoglycemia can cause you to have falls, accidents, and injuries. A blood sugar level that gets too low can lead to seizures, coma, and death. Learn to recognize the symptoms early so you can get treatment quickly.
What If Im Experiencing Hypoglycemic Episodes Even Though My Doctor Has Confirmed That Im Not Diabetic Or Prediabetic
If you have low blood sugar and dont have diabetes or prediabetes, it can be a sign of another serious health issue such as a tumor, hormone deficiency, kidney disorder, anorexia, or other eating disorder, all of which can cause dangerously low blood sugar.
Anorexia has the highest mortality of any psychiatric disorder, and the cause of death can be hypoglycemia, so take your illness seriously and seek help if you suspect your eating disorder may be progressing to the point where it is causing you to faint or experience other signs and symptoms of dangerously low blood sugar. The National Eating Disorders Association has resources on how to identify the signs that you may have an eating disorder, a hotline for help, as well as easily accessible information on everything from how to know when you need help to how to find quality treatment options in your zip code.
People who are not diabetic don’t spontaneously have hypoglycemia for no reason, explains Dr. Christofides. Its often an indication of another underlying issue, such as a hormone deficiency or eating disorder, so its important to schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause in order to prevent complications.
Common causes of hypoglycemia in people without diabetes include:
- Pancreatic tumor
- Medication that inhibits the proper production of insulin
- Hepatitis or kidney disorders
- Hormone deficiencies
- Anorexia and other eating disorders
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How Is It Treated
If you have diabetes and notice any of the early signs of high blood sugar, test your blood sugar and call the doctor. They may ask you for the results of several readings. They could recommend the following changes:
Drink more water. Water helps remove excess sugar from your blood through urine, and it helps you avoid dehydration.
Exercise more. Working out can help lower your blood sugar. But under certain conditions, it can make blood sugar go even higher. Ask your doctor what kind of exercise is right for you.
Caution: If you have type 1 diabetes and your blood sugar is high, you need to check your urine for ketones. When you have ketones, do NOT exercise. If you have type 2 diabetes and your blood sugar is high, you must also be sure that you have no ketones in your urine and that you are well-hydrated. Then your doctor might give you the OK to exercise with caution as long as you feel up to it.
Change your eating habits. You may need to meet with a dietitian to change the amount and types of foods you eat.
Switch medications. Your doctor may change the amount, timing, or type of diabetes medications you take. Donât make changes without talking to them first.
If you have type 1 diabetes and your blood sugar is more than 250 mg/dL, your doctor may want you to test your urine or blood for ketones.
How Does Hypoglycemia Occur Without Diabetes
Hypoglycemia usually happens to people living with diabetes, but its possible to have low blood sugar without diabetes.
Blood sugar, or glucose, is what your body uses for energy. After eating a meal or drinking a beverage, the hormone insulin allows sugar to enter your bodys cells, where its used for energy. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas.
Hypoglycemia occurs when you have too much insulin in your bloodstream. This might happen if you dont eat for several hours, such as 8 hours or more. A drop in blood sugar means there isnt enough glucose in your bloodstream to fuel your brain and body.
Low blood sugar without diabetes can also occur if you take a medication that lowers your blood sugar. These include pain relievers like:
- blood pressure medication
- some antibiotics
Other causes of low blood sugar without diabetes include binge-drinking and increased physical activity.
Plus, some medical conditions can increase the amount of insulin your pancreas produces. These include a pancreatic tumor, adrenal gland disorders, and hepatitis.
You could also experience low blood sugar if you have prediabetes, or if you eat a lot of refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, and pastries.
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Signs That Blood Sugar Levels Are Low
There are a bunch of symptoms that someone with low blood sugar might have. It’s not the same for everybody. The symptoms are as minor as feeling hungry and as serious as having seizures or passing out. Have you ever had low blood sugar? If so, do you remember how it felt? Noticing those problems early can help you if it happens again.
If you have diabetes and you have low blood sugar, you may:
- feel hungry or have “hunger pains” in your stomach
- feel shaky or like you’re trembling
- have a rapid heart rate
- feel sweaty or have cold, clammy skin
- have pale, gray skin color
- have a headache
- be unsteady or stagger when walking
- have blurred or double vision
- feel confused
- have seizures
- pass out
If you think your blood sugar level could be low, tell a parent, teacher, or whoever is taking care of you. An adult can help you test your blood and get you treatment so you start feeling better.
Tingling Hands And Feet
Over the years, hyperglycemia can begin to impact nerve function and eventually cause nerve damage, called neuropathy, Dr. Hatipoglu says. The most common kind of neuropathy is peripheral, according to the NIDDK, which affects the extremities. You might start noticing feelings of tingling, numbness, or burning in your hands, feet, arms, and legs, per the Mayo Clinic.
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What Drinks And Foods Raise Blood Sugar Fast
- 4 teaspoons of sugar
- 1/2 can of regular soda or juice
Many people like the idea of treating low blood sugar with dietary treats such as cake, cookies, and brownies. However, sugar in the form of complex carbohydrates or sugar combined with fat and protein are much too slowly absorbed to be useful in acute treatment.
Once the acute episode has been treated, a healthy, long-acting carbohydrate to maintain blood sugars in the appropriate range should be consumed. Half a sandwich is a reasonable option.
If the hypoglycemic episode has progressed to the point at which the patient cannot or will not take anything by mouth, more drastic measures will be needed. In many cases, a family member or roommate can be trained in the use of glucagon. Glucagon is a hormone that causes a rapid release of glucose stores from the liver. It is an injection given intramuscularly to an individual who cannot take glucose by mouth. A response is usually seen in minutes and lasts for about 90 minutes. Again, a long-acting source of glucose should thereafter be consumed to maintain blood sugar levels in the safe range. If glucagon is not available and the patient is not able to take anything by mouth, emergency services should be called immediately. An intravenous route of glucose administration should be established as soon as possible.
High Blood Sugar Causes
You may be thinking that hyperglycemia can happen just from eating a super-sugary food, but its not really as simple as that. Sure, eating a lot of sugar or carbs can elevate your blood sugar level, but thats typically when your pancreas kicks into gear and creates insulin to move that glucose into cells throughout the body.
But when someone has diabetes, this finely tuned system gets thrown out of whack. In type 2 diabeteswhich accounts for 90% to 95% of diabetes in adults, according to the CDCthe body either cant make enough insulin or cant utilize insulin well, according to the NIDDK. If someone has prediabetes, their blood glucose will be higher than normal but not quite in the type 2 diabetes range yet, per the NIDDK. And in type 1 diabetes, the body does not make insulin or makes very little.
In any case, the result is extra sugar hanging around the bloodstream, making you feel like total crap in the short term and putting your health at risk in the long term.
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