What Can Cause Low Blood Sugar Levels
Some things that can make low blood sugar levels more likely are:
- skipping meals and snacks
- not eating enough food during a meal or snack
- exercising longer or harder than usual without eating some extra food
- getting too much insulin
- not timing the insulin doses properly with meals, snacks, and exercise
Also, some things may increase how quickly insulin gets absorbed into the bloodstream and can make hypoglycemia more likely. These include:
- taking a hot shower or bath right after having an insulin injection increases blood flow through the blood vessels in the skin, which can make the insulin be absorbed more quickly than usual
- injecting the shot into a muscle instead of the fatty layer under the skin
- injecting the insulin into a part of the body used a lot in a particular sport .
All of these situations increase the chances that a person may get hypoglycemia.
What Is The Dawn Phenomenon
Another reason for high nighttime blood sugar levels is the dawn phenomenon. The dawn phenomenon occurs early in the morning when the body naturally signals your liver to produce glucose, giving your body the energy it needs to wake up.
The hormonal changes associated with the dawn phenomenon happen to people with or without diabetes, though those without diabetes do not experience hyperglycemia. If you take insulin, you may need to try a new basal insulin or adjust the timing and amount of your basal dose or your nighttime basal rates to cover an early morning rise.
Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, is defined as blood sugar levels of 70 milligrams per deciliter or lower. Symptoms of low blood sugar can include tiredness, sweating, and tingling lips. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can also be a sign of low blood sugar.
Low blood sugar is especially common in people with type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas creates little or no insulin. However, it can also occur in people with type 2 diabetes who take insulin or certain medications.
Personalizing Your Diet Based On Blood Sugar Response
In addition to seeing your healthcare provider, there are steps you can take to reduce your blood sugar levels. If you check your blood sugar after meals and keep track of those measurements, along with the types and amounts of food you ate, you may be able to see which foods are problematic.
Although an increase in blood sugar is usually due to eating high-carb foods, all carbs are not the same when it comes to raising blood sugar. Because starchy foods digest down to glucose very quickly, some starchy foods may end up having a much greater impact on blood sugar than you might expect.
For instance, even though a banana tastes sweeter than a baked potato, the potato may actually have a bigger impact on blood sugar.13
Because high-carb foods have the biggest impact on blood sugar levels, it makes sense to reduce them, no matter what type of diet you follow. The American Diabetes made this point in a 2019 paper on nutrition for people with diabetes.14
Sometimes making gradual changes can work best. Our guide, Eating better: six steps down carb mountain, can help you lower your carb intake, one step at a time.
If youve been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, our guide to the best foods for diabetes can help you make choices that may reduce your need for blood sugar control medications.
If a food or beverage seems to be causing your blood sugar to rise too much, try leaving it out of your diet for a few days to see if you notice a difference.
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Blood Sugar Level Rises Every Time You Eat
Your blood sugar level rises immediately after eating a meal or snack . In a healthy person, insulin then starts working, and the blood sugar level returns to the pre-meal level 2 hours after eating. In untreated diabetes patients, the blood sugar level does not return to the pre-meal level of its own accord. Some people’s blood sugar level remains high two hours after eating, even though on an empty stomach it would be at a normal level. As a result, the risk of developing diabetes increases as insulin is not properly secreted, or does not work properly in the body. In order to make sure insulin works properly, it is important not to overeat and to avoid becoming obese. Knowing which foods will not cause a sudden and extreme spike in blood sugar level and using this knowledge in your daily life will help you to prevent obesity and diabetes, and maintain good health.
How Do You Treat Hypoglycemia
Treatment for hypoglycemia involves both the immediate steps needed to raise your blood sugar level in addition with the later treatment or medication dose adjustment to prevent recurrence.
To immediately raise your blood sugar level, Dr. Shah advocates the rule of 15eating 15 grams of carbohydrates and then checking your blood sugar level 15 minutes later. Fast-acting carbohydrates include:
- 4 glucose tablets
- 4 ounces of fruit juices
Keep repeating these steps every 15 minutes until your blood sugar reaches above 70 mg/dL, he explains. Once your level has stabilized, its important to then eat a snack or even a full meal to maintain that balance, Dr. Shah adds.
If your symptoms are more severe and/or a person is unable to swallow, you may need an injection of glucagon, he says.
To prevent episodes of hypoglycemia in the future, Dr. Shah says that treatment may involve the changing of prescribed regimens and dosages or adjusting your meal plans.
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Unexpectedly High Blood Sugar Readings Can Be A Bummer
If youre living with type 2 diabetes, your doctor has probably told you time and time again that maintaining control over your blood sugar is essential.
Controlling blood sugar is important for two main reasons, says Lynn Grieger, RD, CDCES, a certified personal trainer in Prescott, Arizona, and a medical reviewer for Everyday Health. On a day-to-day basis, people just feel better when their blood sugar stays in a healthy range. Over the long term, its the best thing you can do to prevent complications of diabetes from occurring. Diabetes complications include nerve damage, kidney disease, skin conditions, eye damage, heart disease, and stroke, according to the American Diabetes Association.
One of the main and most frequently discussed contributors to high blood sugar is a diet too rich in carbohydrates, which once digested turn into sugar . Certain high-carb foods are among the most common foods that spike blood sugar, she explains.
There are some triggers of high blood sugar, however, that are out of your control or can sneak up on you. Such triggers can make it difficult to manage blood sugar levels even when you think youre doing everything right.
Here are 10 surprising yet common causes of high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia.
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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What Happens In Your Body When You Get Stressed
Stress hormones have a big role to play.
When youre experiencing physical or emotional stress, hormones are released that increase your blood sugar. Cortisol and adrenaline are other primary hormones involved.
This is a perfectly natural response. For example, if youre being chased by a barking dog or youre in a dangerous situation, you need these hormones to prepare your body for a fight or flight situation.
But when youre stressed, your body releases these hormones, even if there isnt a major physical threat involved.
The result? Higher blood pressure, increased heart rate and a rise in blood sugar.
The problem becomes more complicated.
If youre consistently under stress, your hormones and sugar will continue to surge.
Over time, this can put you at risk for:
- Heart disease
This is one reason why its so important to treat your stress and anxiety.
Taking Care Of Yourself When Stressed
When were stressed, we typically dont take good care of ourselves.
Theres a reason they call it comfort food. For most people, chocolate or fast food seems to be the first thing they reach for when were stressed.
Stress also makes it tempting to put off your regular exercise routine in favor of the couch and a Netflix binge.
These can all become deciding factors in a spike in blood sugar.
Need a solution? Get moving when youre stressed. Dont feel like you have to complete an extensive cardio routine. Often something as simple as a walk around the block can make a difference in your mood.
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Diabetes Diet: Should I Avoid Sweet Fruits
Ive heard that you shouldnt eat sweet fruits such as strawberries or blueberries if you have diabetes. Is this true? Answers from M. Regina Castro, M.D. Its a common myth that if you have diabetes you shouldnt eat certain foods because theyre too sweet. Some fruits do contain more sugar than others, but that doesnt mean you shouldnt eat them if you have diabetes. The total amount of carbohydrates in a food affects blood sugar levels more than does the source of carbohydrates or whether the source is a starch or sugar. One serving of fruit should contain 15 grams of carbohydrates. The size of the serving depends on the carbohydrate content of the fruit. The advantage of eating a low-carbohydrate fruit is that you can consume a larger portion. But whether you eat a low-carb or high-carb fruit, as long as the serving size contains 15 grams of carbohydrates, the effect on your blood sugar is the same. The following fruit servings contain about 15 grams of carbohydrates: 1/2 medium apple or banana 1 cup blackberries 3/4 cup blueberries 1 cup raspberries 1 1/4 cup whole strawberries 1 cup cubed cantaloupe or honeydew melonContinue reading > >
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 aren’t usually a cause for concern and can be treated quite easily or may return to normal on their own. However, 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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How To Reduce Blood Sugar
You can take steps to reach your blood sugar goals as soon as you find out that it is high. This is how to reduce blood sugar if you have a single high reading that may be dangerous:
- Ask your doctor what to do if you missed a dose of insulin or another diabetes medication
- Ask your doctor if your medication types and doses are still appropriate for you
- Drink water to dilute the sugar
- Exercise for 15 minutes
- Eat a small protein snack, such as a hard-boiled egg, ½ ounce of peanuts or pistachios or other nuts, ½ cup of beans, or ½ cup of plain yogurt or cottage cheese
If you have chronically high blood sugar in prediabetes or diabetes, you can follow this treatment plan:
- Exercise regularly, assuming your doctor approves it
- Lose weight if you are overweight or obese
- Eat a higher proportion of vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fruit
- Limit sugary foods and beverages, fried foods, refined starches, and processed and fatty red meats
- Beware of starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, which can spike your blood sugar. Check out our guide of which veggies to avoid!
Roller Coaster: Female Hormones
When a woman’s hormones change, so does their blood sugar. Keep a monthly record of your levels to get a better idea of how your menstrual cycle affects you. Hormone changes during menopause may make blood sugar even harder to control. Talk to your doctor about whether hormone replacement therapy is a good idea.
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How Can I Prevent Low Blood Sugar
Your best bet is to practice good diabetes management and learn to detect hypoglycemia so you can treat it earlybefore it gets worse.
Monitoring blood sugar, with either a meter or a CGM, is the tried and true method for preventing hypoglycemia. Studies consistently show that the more a person checks blood sugar, the lower his or her risk of hypoglycemia. This is because you can see when blood sugar levels are dropping and can treat it before it gets too low.
If you can, check often!
- Check before and after meals.
- Check before and after exercise .
- Check before bed.
- After intense exercise, also check in the middle of the night.
- Check more if things around you change such as, a new insulin routine, a different work schedule, an increase in physical activity, or travel across time zones.
Blood Sugar Spike Causes
Blood sugar levels fluctuate all day long. When you eat food, particularly those foods that are high in carbohydrates like bread, potatoes, or pasta, your blood sugar will immediately begin to rise.
If your blood sugar is consistently high, you need to talk to your doctor about improving your diabetes management. Blood sugar rises when:
- youre not taking enough insulin
- your insulin isnt lasting as long as you think it is
- youre not taking your oral diabetes medication
- your medication dosage needs adjusting
- youre using expired insulin
- youre not following your nutritional plan
- you have an illness or infection
- youre using certain medications, like steroids
- youre under physical stress, such as an injury or surgery
- youre under emotional stress, such as trouble at work or home or with money problems
If your blood sugar is usually well-controlled, but youre experiencing unexplained blood sugar spikes, there might be a more acute cause.
Try keeping a record of all the food and drinks you consume. Check your blood sugar levels according to your doctors recommendations.
Its common to record your blood sugar reading first thing in the morning, before youve eaten, and then again two hours after eating. Even a few days of recorded information can help you and your doctor discover whats causing your blood sugar spikes.
Common culprits include:
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
Different people may feel low blood sugar levels differently. People with low blood sugar may:
- feel hungry or have “hunger pains” in their stomach
- feel shaky or like they’re trembling
- have a rapid heart rate
- feel sweaty or have cold, clammy skin
- have pale, gray skin color
- have a headache
- have seizures or convulsions
- lose consciousness
If you have diabetes, try to remember how your body reacts when your blood sugar levels are low. It may help you figure out when you’re having a low blood sugar level more quickly the next time.
How To Raise Blood Sugar Levels
If you haven’t had anything to eat or drink for sometime or have done excessive exercise there are chances that your blood sugar levels will drop. In diabetics, an insulin dose without carbohydrate intake can lead to hypoglycaemia. The symptoms of hypoglycaemia appear when the blood glucose levels drop below 3.35 mmol/l or 70 gm/dl.
The most effective and immediate way to raise blood sugar level is to take glucose rich foods. Consuming 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrates can restore the blood sugar level. Here is a list of the best options to eat if the blood glucose levels drop:
Fresh juice, energy drinks, sports drinks, milk and other juices are ideal for increasing blood sugar level immediately. ½ cup of apple or pineapple juice or ½ cup of milk or any other sweet drink like soda or sports drink contains sufficient amount of glucose to raise blood sugar levels. These are rapidly absorbed and the symptoms get better very quickly.
2. Sweets and Candies
If you know that you are prone to getting low blood sugar levels, always keep some sweets or candies with you. The minute you feel the symptoms, pop some in your mouth for fast relief. Though not a very healthy choice, these are very effective to raise blood sugar levels instantly.
4. Glucose Tablets and Gels
Honey or any other sweet drink or sauce can be taken for correction of hypoglycaemia.
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