Things To Do If Your Blood Sugar Is Too High
Want to know how to lower blood sugar? Here are six things to do to combat with high blood pressure.
Blood sugar is a tricky little beast. Yes, you can get a high reading if you throw caution to the wind and eat several slices of cake at a wedding.
The problem is that you can also have a high blood sugar reading if you follow every rule in the type 2 diabetes handbook. That’s because it’s not just food that affects blood sugar. You could have a cold coming on, or stress may have temporarily boosted your blood sugar. The reading could be wrong, and you need to repeat it. Or it could mean that your medicine is no longer working, and it’s time to try a new one.
The point is, it’s the pattern that matters, not a single reading.
Whatever you do, don’t feel bad or guilty if you have a high blood sugar reading. A 2004 study found that blood sugar monitoring often amplifies feelings of being a “success” or “failure” at diabetes, and when readings are consistently high, it can trigger feelings of anxiety or self-blame.
This can cause some people to give up on testing completely. Try not to think of blood sugar monitoring as a “test” administered by a sour-faced teacher lurking in your distant past. Blood sugar monitoring is simply a tool that you can use to fight the disease. Here, six things you should know about how to lower your blood sugar when it’s way too high.
Diabetes Sign: Youre Peeing Nonstop
Increased urination is telltale sign that your blood sugar could be out of control.
When you have too much glucoseor sugarin your bloodstream, your kidneys try to flush out the extra through your urine, explains Dr. Fuhrman.
As a result, you end up having to pee more often than usual, including in the middle of the night. Since youre losing so much fluid, youll probably feel extra thirsty and your mouth will be dry, too, he says.
You’ve Lost Motivation To Work Out
Consuming too much sugar can make you gain weight in many ways, but the weirdest way is that it can reduce actual physical activity. In one University of Illinois study, mice that were fed a diet that mimicked the standard American dietâi.e., one that was about 18 percent added sugarsâgained more body fat even though they weren’t fed more calories. One of the reasons was that the mice traveled about 20 percent less in their little cages than mice that weren’t fed the sugary diet.
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Blood Sugar Spike: What To Do
Its important to know the symptoms of hyperglycemia. If you suspect that you have high blood sugar, perform a finger stick to check your level.
Exercising and drinking water after eating, particularly if youve consumed a lot of starchy carbs, can help lower your blood sugar.
You can also use an insulin injection, but be careful only to use this method while closely following the recommendation of your doctor regarding your dose. If used improperly, insulin can cause hypoglycemia .
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.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of High Blood Sugar Levels
Signs of high blood sugar levels include:
- Peeing a lot: The kidneys respond by flushing out the extra glucose in urine. People with high blood sugar need to pee more often and in larger amounts.
- Drinking a lot: Someone losing so much fluid from peeing that often can get very thirsty.
- Losing weight even though your appetite has stayed the same: If there isn’t enough insulin to help the body use glucose, the body breaks down muscle and stored fat instead in an attempt to provide fuel to hungry cells.
- Feeling tired: Because the body can’t use glucose for energy properly, a person may feel unusually tired.
What Causes Hyperglycemia In People With Diabetes
- The dose of insulin or oral diabetes medication that you are taking is not the most helpful dose for your needs.
- Your body isnt using your natural insulin effectively .
- The amount of carbohydrates you are eating or drinking is not balanced with the amount of insulin your body is able to make or the amount of insulin you inject.
- You are less active than usual.
- Physical stress is affecting you.
- Emotional stress is affecting you.
- You are taking steroids for another condition.
- The dawn phenomenon is affecting you.
Other possible causes
- Pancreatic diseases such as pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and cystic fibrosis.
- Certain medications .
- Gestational diabetes, which happens in 4% of pregnancies, and is due to decreased insulin sensitivity.
- Surgery or trauma.
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Diabetes Sign: Youre Crazy Thirsty
Peeing more often means that your body is getting rid of more water than usual, which puts you at risk for dehydration, says Dr. Furhman.
That can leave you feeling thirsty and cotton-mouthed, even if it seems like youre drinking the same amount of water as always. Plus, since youre drinking more, that will also make you pee more, too.
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.
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.
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What Are High Blood Sugar Levels
It is essential to address glucose levels in general. In persons without type 1 or type 2 diabetes, blood sugar levels generally range between 70 to 130 mg/dl.
It depends on the last time they ate a meal and the time of day. Normal blood glucose ranges in persons without any type of diabetes are:
- Fasting blood sugar in the morning before eating 70 to 90 mg/dl
- One hour after a meal 90 to 130 mg/dl
- Two hours after a meal 90 to 110 mg/dl
- Five or more hours after eating 70 to 90 mg/dl
In pregnant women, blood sugar levels tend to be lower. Harvard Health also confirms that a normal blood sugar level is less than 100 mg/dl after an eight-hour fast. Also, a person has diabetes if their blood sugar is 126 mg/dl or higher.
When it comes to hyperglycemia or high blood sugar, there are two kinds of the problem. The first kind is fasting hyperglycemia, which is blood sugar higher than 130 mg/dl after not eating or drinking for eight hours.
The other kind is postprandial or after-meal hyperglycemia, where blood sugar is higher than 180 mg/dl two hours after a meal. People without diabetes rarely have blood sugar higher than 140 mg/dl after a meal unless its a big one.
For People With Type 2 Diabetes
It is normal for blood glucose levels to go up and down throughout the day. An occasional high blood glucose level is not a problem. But if your blood glucose level remains high for a few days or if you are sick, contact your doctor or Credentialed Diabetes Educator.
If not treated, high blood glucose levels can be dangerous and lead to Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Find out more here:
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How To Prevent It
If you work to keep your blood sugar under control — follow your meal plan, exercise program, and medicine schedule — you shouldnât have to worry about hyperglycemia. You can also:
- Know your diet — count the total amounts of carbs in each meal and snack.
- Test your blood sugar regularly.
- Tell your doctor if you have repeated abnormal blood sugar readings.
- Wear medical identification to let people know you have diabetes in case of an emergency.
Stabilize And Relieve Feet With Orthotic Shoes
Because wearing correct shoes is so important, orthotic footwear is a great investment in protection and comfort. Shoes made especially for people with diabetes are available at specialty stores and online, or you can visit your podiatrist for advice. Medicare Part B will cover one pair of extra-depth or custom-molded diabetic shoes a year, plus additional inserts to reduce pressure on your feet. Your doctor may recommend these shoes to you if you have an ulcer or sore that is not healing.
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Getting High Blood Glucose Into Control
While the causes that lie behind the symptoms of high blood glucose are fascinating, the real value of symptoms is in the message they carry: Blood glucose is too high. The symptoms are warning signs, and we ignore them at our peril. High blood sugar does more than trigger biological and chemical processes that make you feel crummy over time, high blood glucose causes permanent damage to the body.
But you have it in your power to make the symptoms go away, and to keep them from coming back, by keeping your high blood sugar in control. And youre not alone in this task. Talk to your doctor. Make time to see a diabetes educator. Ask your family members for their support in helping you to eat right and keep active. Use the tools available to you, such as your blood glucose meter, to see whether your numbers are in target range most of the time. If they are not, talk to your medical team about adjusting your therapy. And keep reading Diabetes Self-Management!
Ketoacidosis: When Hyperglycemia Becomes Severe For People With Type 1 Diabetes
If you have type 1 diabetes, it is important to recognize and treat hyperglycemia because if left untreated it can lead to a dangerous condition called . This happens because without glucose, the body’s cells must use ketones as a source of energy. Ketoacidosis develops when ketones build up in the blood. It can become serious and lead to diabetic coma or even death. According to the American Diabetes Association, ketoacidosis affects people with type 1 diabetes, but it rarely affects people with type 2 diabetes.
Many symptoms of ketoacidosis are similar to hyperglycemia. The hallmarks of ketoacidosis are:
High level of ketones in the urine
Shortness of breath
Additionally, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and confusion may accompany ketoacidosis. Immediate medical attention is highly recommended if you have any of these symptoms.
Some people with diabetes are instructed by their doctor to regularly test ketone levels. Ketone testing is performed two ways: using urine or using blood. For a urine test, you dip a special type of test strip into your urine. For testing blood ketones, a special meter and test strips are used. The test is performed exactly like a blood glucose test. If ketone testing is part of your self-monitoring of diabetes, your healthcare professional will provide you with other information including prevention.
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What Foods Have Added Sugars
Ultra-processed foodsâfoods with added flavors, colors, sweeteners, emulsifiers, and other additivesâcontribute to nearly 90 percent of our sugar intake, according to a BMJ Journal study. The main sources of added sugars in ultra-processed foods are:
- soft drinks
- breakfast cereals
- ice cream and ice-pops
As you can see, sugar-sweetened drinks are the top three sources of sugar in our diet. In fact, almost half of the added sugars in our diets come from drinks like soda and fruit drinks.
Check both the nutrition label and ingredients to find added sugar foods. “Just because a label says ‘no added sugar,’ you still want to read the label and see how many grams of sugar there are in that item per serving,” says Zeitlin.
When Is Blood Sugar Considered To Be Too High Or Too Low
Slight fluctuations in blood sugar levels are completely normal, and also happen every day in people who dont have diabetes, in response to the food they eat. Between around 60 and 140 milligrams of sugar per deciliter of blood is considered to be healthy. This is equivalent to a blood sugar concentration of between 3.3 and 7.8 mmol/l. Millimoles per liter is the unit that blood sugar is measured in. It describes the amount of a certain substance per liter.
If someone has readings over 7.8 mmol/l , they are considered to have hyperglycemia. These high blood sugar levels mainly occur if there isn’t enough insulin or the insulin doesn’t work properly. Without the effect of insulin, the organs can’t make good use of the sugar in the blood, so the sugar builds up. If type 1 diabetes is left untreated, blood sugar levels can increase to over 27.8 mmol/l . Such high levels tend to be uncommon in type 2 diabetes.
Blood sugar levels below 3.3 mmol/l are considered to be too low. But, as you can see in the illustration below, there are no clear-cut borders between normal blood sugar levels and too high or too low blood sugar levels.
Blood sugar: Normal range between hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia
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What High Blood Sugar Feels Like
The symptoms can include:
- Breath that smells like fruit
These are symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis . Your body burns glucose for energy. When your cells donât get enough of it, they burn fat. That produces chemicals called ketones. When these build up, your blood becomes more acid-like. This can be life-threatening if itâs not treated.
Fruit Doesn’t Taste Sweet Enough
Eating sugar too frequentlyâincluding adding sugar or even sugar substitutes like Splenda to certain foodsâcan alter what your taste buds interpret as sweet. “A bowl of strawberries is sweet on its own, but if you sprinkle sugar or Stevia on it, your baseline for sweet is so much higher than the fruit on its own,” says Zeitlin. “It changes your expectation of how a dessert should taste.” Cutting out added sugars and fake sweeteners as often as possible helps reteach your body to enjoy the natural sweetness of the fruit.
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How Does Diabetes Affect Your Feet And Legs
If you’re managing diabetes, you may encounter problems with your feet and legs, two common complications of the disease. Diabetes puts you at higher risk for calluses, corns, bunions, blisters, and ulcers and high blood sugar means these minor injuries and alterations may become gateways to potentially disabling infections.
But you can take several steps to help keep your feet in good shape, including wearing specialized footwear, having regular foot exams, and performing low-impact exercise.
Why does this complication occur in the first place? First, know that high blood sugar levels damage nerves. Researchers arent exactly sure how this damage happens, but they think that blood sugar may have a negative effect on the nervous systems cells and enzymes, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center. These damaged nerves may lead to diabetic neuropathy, a condition in which you lose feeling in your feet or your hands.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, neuropathy occurs in about 70 percent of people with diabetes, and its symptoms can result in harmful infections. After all, if you can’t feel your feet, you won’t be able to notice cuts, sores, or pain. And if you cant feel these irritations and wounds, they may lead to infection, and untreated infections can lead to gangrene, which in turn can require amputation.
Additional reporting by Carlene Bauer
Living With Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Keeping the balance between blood sugar and insulin is the key to controlling diabetic ketoacidosis. In most cases, this means sticking to your insulin schedule. But you may need to adjust the amount of insulin youre taking.
You should also try to recognize when you feel stressed or sick. Small adjustments to your eating or drinking can make a big difference.
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High Blood Glucose: Diabetic Ketoacidosis
If your insulin level is too low, your blood glucose could become so high that it is unsafe. You might develop a serious problem called diabetic ketoacidosis . This usually happens in people with Type 1 diabetes and those with glucose levels over 500.
If you have DKA, chemicals called ketones start to make a lot of acid in your body. The acid and high blood glucose can make you very sick. You might also become dehydrated . You can prevent DKA by carefully giving yourself the correct insulin dose every day.
If you have any of the following symptoms of DKA, get to your local emergency department right away. You need to be treated with insulin and fluids that are given to you through an IV :
- Blurry vision
- Dry mouth, eyes or skin
- Fast breathing
- Feeling very weak or tired
- Fruity-smelling breath
- Stomach pain, nausea or vomiting