How To Lower Blood Sugar Immediately
Michael Menna, DO, is a board-certified, active attending emergency medicine physician at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, New York.
If you have high blood sugar, a condition also known as hyperglycemia, theres too much sugar in your blood and not enough insulin in your body to lower it. In people with diabetes, hyperglycemia can be caused by things like eating too many carbohydrates, lack of physical activity, stress from an illness or infection, nondiabetes medications , or skipping or not taking enough glucose-lowering medication.
Hyperglycemia requires immediate treatment to prevent serious complications, including nerve, tissue, and organ damage diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome . While taking rapid-acting insulin is the quickest way to lower your blood sugar, there are other ways like exercising and staying hydrated that can help. In cases of an emergency, contact your doctor immediately.
When To Get Urgent Medical Attention
Contact your diabetes care team immediately if you have a high blood sugar level and experience the following symptoms:
- feeling or being sick
- a fever for more than 24 hours
- signs of dehydration, such as a headache, dry skin and a weak, rapid heartbeat
- difficulty staying awake
These symptoms could be a sign of a more serious complication of hyperglycaemia, such as diabetic ketoacidosis or a hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state, and you may need to be looked after in hospital.
Easy Ways To Lower Blood Sugar Levels Naturally
High blood sugar occurs when your body doesnt make enough or effectively use insulin, a hormone that regulates blood glucose and helps it enter your cells for energy.
High blood sugar is associated with diabetes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 13% of U.S. adults live with diabetes, and 34.5% have prediabetes (
This means close to 50% of all U.S. adults have diabetes or prediabetes.
Here are 15 easy ways to lower blood sugar levels naturally:
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When Should I Check My Blood Sugar
How often you check your blood sugar depends on the type of diabetes you have and if you take any diabetes medicines.
Typical times to check your blood sugar include:
- When you first wake up, before you eat or drink anything.
- Before a meal.
- Two hours after a meal.
- At bedtime.
If you have type 1 diabetes, have type 2 diabetes and take insulin, or often have low blood sugar, your doctor may want you to check your blood sugar more often, such as before and after youre physically active.
Correcting High Blood Sugar Levels With Insulin
If you take insulin, one way to reduce blood sugar is to inject insulin.
However, be careful as insulin can take 4 hours or longer to be fully absorbed, so you need to make sure you take into account how much insulin you may already have in your body that is yet to be absorbed by the blood. Insulin that is yet to be absorbed by the blood is called active insulin.
If you decide to correct with insulin, watch you dont over correct as this can lead to hypoglycemia and can be dangerous, particularly so before bed.
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How Do Carbs Affect Blood Sugar
Carbs in food make your blood sugar levels go higher after you eat them than when you eat proteins or fats. You can still eat carbs if you have diabetes. The amount you can have and stay in your target blood sugar range depends on your age, weight, activity level, and other factors. Counting carbs in foods and drinks is an important tool for managing blood sugar levels. Make sure to talk to your health care team about the best carb goals for you.
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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How To Lower High Blood Sugar
With careful monitoring and control of your blood sugar levels, you can live a healthy life. There are a number of ways you can lower and prevent high blood sugar.
Learn to count carbohydrates: When you count carbs or keep track of what you are eating, you can control your blood sugar more efficiently. Set a maximum amount you can have each day for your meal,s and keep track to make sure you do not go past the limit. This helps to stabilize blood sugar and prevent dangerous spikes. Portion control is important too, so make sure your meals are not too large, as these can cause temporary spikes.
Try meal planning: To help keep track of your carbohydrate intake, start planning your meals. Based on the amount of carbohydrates you can have, plan meals accordingly, so you do not risk going above the set limit. When your meals are planned, you also avoid eating out or getting convenience food, which contains more sugar and fat, and will negatively affect your blood sugar.
Start a weight loss program: Obesity contributes to diabetes and impairs your bodys ability to process energy efficiently. Losing weight helps your body to use insulin more efficiently, and it reduces fat storage, which can trigger inflammation in the body.
Ways To Lower Your Blood Sugar Naturally
- To lower your blood sugar, it’s important to exercise regularly and lose weight.
- You should make sure to drink lots of water, eat less unhealthy carbohydrates, and increase your fiber intake.
- It’s also important to manage stress if you want to lower blood sugar and keep it under control.
- This article was medically reviewed by Jason R. McKnight, MD, MS, a family medicine physician and clinical assistant professor at Texas A& M College of Medicine.
- This story is part of Insider’s guide to Diabetes.
High blood sugar occurs when your body cannot convert sugar in the blood to energy for cells. This is a common issue for those with diabetes, or those at risk. If you don’t lower your blood sugar, you will be at an increased risk for serious health complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, and vision loss.
That’s why, if you already have diabetes, it’s important to frequently check your blood sugar to make sure your levels stay in a normal, healthy range.
Plus, about one-third of Americans have prediabetes or elevated blood-sugar levels and 84% of them don’t know they have it. If you have prediabetes, it’s also important to lower your blood-sugar levels to reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Here are six ways you can lower your blood sugar over time:
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Is Hyperglycaemia Serious
The aim of diabetes treatment is to keep blood sugar levels as near to normal as possible.
But if you have diabetes, no matter how careful you are, you’re likely to experience hyperglycaemia at some point.
It’s important to be able to recognise and treat hyperglycaemia, as it can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.
Occasional mild episodes are not usually a cause for concern and can be treated quite easily or may return to normal on their own.
But hyperglycaemia can be potentially dangerous if blood sugar levels become very high or stay high for long periods.
Very high blood sugar levels can cause life-threatening complications, such as:
- diabetic ketoacidosis a condition caused by the body needing to break down fat as a source of energy, which can lead to a diabetic coma this tends to affect people with type 1 diabetes
- hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state severe dehydration caused by the body trying to get rid of excess sugar this tends to affect people with type 2 diabetes
Regularly having high blood sugar levels for long periods of time can result in permanent damage to parts of the body such as the eyes, nerves, kidneys and blood vessels.
If you experience hyperglycaemia regularly, speak to your doctor or diabetes care team.
You may need to change your treatment or lifestyle to keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range.
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Sweet Potatoes And Yams
Regular potatoes have a high GI score, but sweet potatoes and yams have low scores and are very nutritious.
Some research indicates that the flesh of the sweet potato contains more fiber than the skin, indicating that the whole vegetable could be beneficial for those with diabetes.
Reporting the findings of an animal study, the researchers also noted that sweet potato consumption may lower some markers of diabetes.
While there is still no conclusive evidence that sweet potatoes can help to stabilize or lower blood sugar levels in humans, they are undoubtedly a healthful, nutritious food with a low GI score.
People can substitute sweet potatoes or yams for potatoes in a variety of dishes, from fries to casseroles.
Oats have a GI score of 55 or lower, making them less likely to cause spikes and dips in blood sugar levels.
Oats also contain B-glucans, which can do the following:
- reduce glucose and insulin responses after meals
- improve insulin sensitivity
2012 study found that incorporating legumes into the diet improved glycemic control and lowered the risk of coronary heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes.
Avoid legume products that contain added sugars and simple starches, such as those in syrups, sauces, or marinades. These additions can significantly increase a products GI score.
Garlic is a popular ingredient in traditional medicines for diabetes and a wide variety of other conditions.
People can eat garlic raw, add it to salads, or use it in cooked meals.
What Are Risk Factors For Hyperglycemia
Major risk factors for hyperglycemia are:
- You have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
- You are African American, Native American, Hispanic or Asian American.
- You are overweight.
- You have high blood pressure or cholesterol.
- You have polycystic ovarian syndrome .
- You have a history of gestational diabetes.
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Dont Give Yourself A Hard Time
And the flipside of focusing on the positives of these new changes is to not give yourself a hard time, or expect to be perfect. Its very rare to quit eating meat and added sugar, and integrate an entirely new system of eating and exercising all at once.
You might have nights where you splurge, or weeks where youre busy and might not be able to exercise. Family life, work, and vacations get in the way.
The important thing is to focus on the long term effect. Are you moving in the right direction in general? If so, dont give yourself a hard time.
How To Fix High Blood Sugars In The Morning
The Dawn Phenomenon
More than half of people with diabetes are thought to experience dawn phenomenon, and it can lead to significant increases in HbA1c.
The dawn phenomenon begins when your body secretes a surge of hormones, including growth hormone, cortisol, adrenaline and glucagon. These hormones start working very early each morning around the same time to prepare your body to wake. Basically, your body is starting the engine, releasing some fuel, and prepping to go for the day.
These hormones trigger the conversion of the livers glycogen stores into glucose which is then dumped into the blood in a process called glycogenolysis.
This general process occurs in all humans regardless of whether they have diabetes. In people without diabetes, the bodys natural insulin response prevents the blood sugars from rising. In people with diabetes, though, the body is unable to produce a healthy insulin response, and therefore blood glucose levels spike up.
The Mayo Clinic suggests several strategies you can try to combat the effects of dawn phenomenon:
- Use an insulin pump to administer extra insulin during early-morning hours.
- Avoid carbohydrates at bedtime.
- Adjust your dose of medication or insulin.
- Switch to a different glucose-lowering medication.
- Adjust the time when you take your medication or insulin from dinnertime to bedtime.
What Works for Some People
High Blood Sugars from the Night Before
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What Are Blood Sugar Targets
A blood sugar target is the range you try to reach as much as possible. These are typical targets:
- Before a meal: 80 to 130 mg/dL.
- Two hours after the start of a meal: Less than 180 mg/dL.
Your blood sugar targets may be different depending on your age, any additional health problems you have, and other factors. Be sure to talk to your health care team about which targets are best for you.
Get A Handle On Stress
When youre stressed out, your blood sugar tends to rise, Crandall Snyder says. According to the Diabetes Teaching Center at the University of California in San Francisco, when youre stressed, insulin levels fall, certain hormones rise, and more glucose is released from the liver, which ends up in the blood stream and can cause disruptions for up to eight hours.
How can you burn off tension? Yoga and meditation can help people lower their blood sugar levels, Weisenberger says. A December 2014 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science involving 27 nursing students and found a combination of yoga and meditation practiced for one hour once a week led to reduced levels of stress and lower blood glucose levels after 12 weeks.
Crandall Snyder also suggests taking a few deep breaths, going for a walk, playing with your dog for a few minutes, or listening to a fun song. Basically whatever you can do to distract yourself for a few minutes and just lower your breathing rate will help, she says. Indeed, the CDC notes that less water in your body is liked with a higher blood sugar concentration.
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Eat Foods With A Low Gi
The glycemic index helps rank foods by how they affect blood sugar. Foods with a low GI release sugar slowly into your system, rather than flooding your blood with sugar all at once.
Aim for foods with a GI of 55 or less .
“Having a healthy diet is a proven way of keeping blood sugar within reasonable limits,” Velikova says. “I recommend eating foods that the body absorbs slowly, with a low and medium glycemic index, such as sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and most fruits, including berries and apples.”
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Losing weight helps control blood sugar levels. Being overweight is linked to increased incidents of diabetes and greater occurrences of insulin resistance.
Studies show that reducing weight by even only 7 percent can reduce the chances of developing diabetes by 58 percent.
It is important to note that a person does not need to achieve ideal body weight to benefit from losing 1020 pounds and keeping it off. Doing so will also improve cholesterol, reduce the risk of complications, and improve a persons general sense of well-being.
Eating a healthful diet full of fruits and vegetables and getting enough exercise can help a person lose weight or maintain their currently healthy weight.
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Keep An Eye On Your Carb Intake
Paying attention to carbohydrates is important for people with type 2 diabetes. Carbs are what cause your blood sugars to potentially fluctuate, Crandall Snyder says.
How many carbs per meal is ideal? Its tailored to each individual, says Weisenberger. How much you exercise, your weight, and your age can all affect how long sugars stay in your system, according to the CDC. A typical starting point for people with diabetes is to limit carb intake to 200 to 245 grams per day, which amounts to about one-half of your daily calories coming from carbs, according to the CDC. From there, make adjustments according to your blood glucose readings or as recommended by a dietitian, Crandall Snyder says.
And keep in mind that carbs arent only found in the usual culprits, like bread, potatoes, and pasta. They are also in fruits, vegetables, sweets, and dairy, so you have to take all of those into consideration as well, Crandall Snyder says.
Check Your Blood Glucose Levels
For many people with diabetes, checking their blood glucose level each day is an important way to manage their diabetes. Monitoring your blood glucose level is most important if you take insulin. The results of blood glucose monitoring can help you make decisions about food, physical activity, and medicines.
The most common way to check your blood glucose level at home is with a blood glucose meter. You get a drop of blood by pricking the side of your fingertip with a lancet. Then you apply the blood to a test strip. The meter will show you how much glucose is in your blood at the moment.
Ask your health care team how often you should check your blood glucose levels. Make sure to keep a record of your blood glucose self-checks. You can print copies of this glucose self-check chart . Take these records with you when you visit your health care team.
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