You Might Not Realize It But These Behaviors Might Be Boosting Your Blood Glucose Levels
Blood sugar spikes happen to us all: they occur when your blood sugar rises and then falls sharply, usually after eating. These spikes can lead to hunger and lethargy among a myriad of additional uncomfortable symptoms.
Though the risk of diabetes is a long term consequence of blood sugar spikes, its a rising health issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control, though there are 30 million Americans who have diabetes, 25% of them dont even know they have it.
We spoke to two nutritionists to understand everyday things that can spike blood sugar. Below are 12 culprits that will help you be more educated on avoiding certain triggers and thus better maintain long-term health.
Preventing Low Blood Sugar Levels
Here are some other tips to help you avoid low blood sugar levels:
- Eat all your meals and snacks on time and try not to skip any.
- Take the right amount of insulin.
- If you exercise longer or harder than usual, have an extra snack.
- Don’t take a hot bath or shower right after an insulin shot.
- Stick to your diabetes management plan.
- Check your blood sugar levels regularly, so you can tell if your blood sugars are running too low and your treatment plan needs adjustment.
- Carry something containing sugar with you at all times and take it right away if you have symptoms. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms will go away they may get worse!
Alcohol and drugs can cause major problems with your blood sugar levels, so avoiding them is another way to prevent diabetes problems. Drinking can be particularly dangerous even deadly for people with diabetes because it messes up the body’s ability to keep blood glucose in a normal range. This can cause a very rapid drop in blood glucose in people with diabetes. Drug or alcohol use is also dangerous because it may affect someone’s ability to sense low blood sugar levels.
Learning how to recognize the signs of low blood sugar levels and get them back to normal is an important part of caring for diabetes. Keeping track of your blood sugar levels and recording lows when they occur will help you and your diabetes health care team keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
How Can High Blood Sugar Levels In The Morning Be Controlled
Once you and your doctor determine how your blood sugar levels are behaving at night, he or she can advise you about the changes you need to make to better control them. Options that your doctor may discuss depend on the cause of the morning high blood sugars.
For dawn phenomenon:
- Changing the timing or type of your diabetes medications
- Eating a lighter breakfast
- Increasing your morning dose of diabetes medication
- If you take insulin, switching to an insulin pump and programming it to release additional insulin in the morning
For Somogyi effect:
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Why Does Blood Sugar Go Up At Night
There are many factors that can cause your blood sugar to increase at night. For example: what food you ate during the day, how much and when you exercised, whether you ate snacks before bed, the timing of your insulin doses, and your stress level. You can experience different patterns of high blood sugar at night. You may start with high glucose when you go to bed, start the night in range but go high several hours later, or spend most of the night in range until the hours just before you wake up. By identifying your bodys patterns, you can figure out what is causing your high blood sugar and how to address it.
Common causes of a glucose increase at night include:
Sudden Spikes In Blood Sugar Overnight Are Something That Diabetics Dont Want To Ever Experience
Something like this happening blood sugar soaring while youre sound asleep and totally unaware is a frightening thought.
But people who do not have diabetes dont have to worry about very high rises in blood sugar during sleep.
Actually, sugar can spike in anyone, but in people with normal sugar metabolism, no one notices, says Susan L. Besser, MD, with Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, and Diplomate American Board of Obesity Medicine and board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.
The cause is normal fluctuation in body glucose and metabolism, continues Dr. Besser.
Even though we are asleep at night, the body is still working, still using energy.
At night we arent eating while we sleep , so the body has to use stored sugar to feed itself.
These stores are found in the liver and are released through a hormonal process. In most of us this is used immediately so the sugar doesnt spike.
In someone with diabetes, glycogen is converted to blood sugar , and this happens with everyone but with diabetics the body cannot use this glucose, so the sugar rises.
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How Can We Alter Our Meals To Prevent A Blood Sugar Spike
Lets take the example we just talked about a plate of pasta with a side of garlic bread.
KEY POINT: eating a more balanced meal will help to prevent blood sugar spikes.
Why They Happen And How To Try And Reduce Them If You Live With Type 1 Diabetes
Living with type 1 diabetes requires you to regularly check your blood sugar levels before you eat. However, we may not always consider what happens to our sugar levels immediately after we eat where it is very normal for people who dont have diabetes, let alone those who do, to temporarily have high sugar levels. Given that having high sugar levels can give you symptoms like thirst, tiredness and needing to go to the toilet a lot, learning about ways to try and reduce spikes in your sugar levels after meals may make a difference to your overall health and wellbeing.
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So How Did Your Blood Sugar Spike So Much
If glucose builds up in your bloodstream, it can cause your blood sugar to spike. This happens when your insulin cant keep up with the sugar overload.
Blood sugar spikes can also be the result of insulin production being out of whack in the first place, which is why people who have diabetes often experience them.
Glucose and insulin work hand in hand to keep you healthy. Almost any time you eat something, its broken down into glucose, which enters your cells to become fuel your body needs to keep running smoothly.
Insulin is supposed to help deliver glucose to your cells. But heres the thing: if you have diabetes, your body doesnt use insulin effectively and doesnt produce enough insulin, so glucose cant get into your cells.
When that happens, the glucose hangs out in your bloodstream, building up to dangerously high levels.
The scary thing is that blood sugar spikes dont just feel uncomfortable they can also lead to serious long-term damage. If high blood sugar is a chronic issue and goes untreated, it can cause heart disease, nerve damage, vision problems, and kidney failure.
If you ignore high blood sugar for a long time, your cells start to use fat instead of glucose for fuel, which produces ketones. If you dont have diabetes, this usually isnt an issue. But if you do, your blood becomes too acidic, which can lead to diabetic coma or death.
Hormonal Changes In Menstruation Tend To Mess With Blood Sugar Levels
Widely known menstruation symptoms include low mood and certain food cravings, but did you know that the menstrual cycle can also cause blood sugar level swings? Blood sugar spikes during the ovulatory phase for a few days and then increases again in the last week of the cycle the days prior to the onset of a period, explains Dodell. This is due to peak levels of estrogen and progesterone. Also worth noting: Women in perimenopause, when hormone levels and menstrual periods are often irregular, are likely to find their blood sugar levels to be unpredictable, says Grieger.
If your menstrual cycle seems to affect your blood sugar levels, you may find it helpful to look for a monthly pattern in your blood sugar readings, the Mayo Clinic recommends. A pattern would allow you to predict changes in your blood sugar and to work with your doctor to adjust your treatment approach as needed throughout your cycle.
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Exercise Prevents Blood Sugar Spikes
Incorporating regular physical activity is good for overall health, but its also essentially free medicine when it comes to blood sugar management.
Any activity is going to beneficial compared to no activity.
The general goal for most people is 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week. But if you cant fit in a 30 minute block of time, thats okay, do what you can!
Try a quick walk, house cleaning, gardening, or a few squats or lunges after meals anything you do will help get sugar out of the bloodstream and into the muscle cells faster .
KEY POINT: Add regular exercise to your routine and try quick bouts of activity after-meals to help achieve better blood sugar levels.
How To Prevent Hyperglycaemia
There are simple ways to reduce your risk of severe or prolonged hyperglycaemia:
- Be careful what you eat be particularly aware of how snacking and eating sugary foods or carbohydrates can affect your blood sugar level.
- Stick to your treatment plan remember to take your insulin or other diabetes medications as recommended by your care team.
- Be as active as possible getting regular exercise can help stop your blood sugar level rising, but you should check with your doctor first if you’re taking diabetes medication, as some medicines can lead to hypoglycaemia if you exercise too much
- Take extra care when you’re ill your care team can provide you with some “sick day rules” that outline what you can do to keep your blood sugar level under control during an illness.
- Monitor your blood sugar level your care team may suggest using a device to check your level at home, so you can spot an increase early and take steps to stop it.
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Type 2 Diabetes Sugar Spike Overnight
Like in everyone, the pancreas in most type 2 diabetics produces a normal amount of insulin, a hormone whose job it is to transport glucose molecules from the blood to muscle cells.
The muscle cells need glucose for fuel. Stored sugar in a muscle cell is called glycogen.
In type 2 diabetes, the insulin is there, but the transport system is impaired. The insulin receptor sites on muscles cells are not receiving, and/or theres not enough of them.
The sugar, unable to gain entry to muscle cells, stays in the blood, where it builds up. A spike can result, including during sleep.
If the diabetic discovers this via a glucose reading, a bout of exercise will correct the problem.
Excessive Salt Raises Blood Pressure
Too much sodium can cause water retention that puts increased pressure on your heart and blood vessels. People with high blood pressure and those at a high risk for developing hypertension, including adults over 50 and black men and women, should have no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily of salt.
Even people with normal levels should eat salt in moderation. Stick to no more than 2,300 mg of sodium , per day.
Most dietary sodium comes from processed foods. Rules of thumb are to choose foods with 5% or less of the daily value of sodium per serving and opt for fresh poultry, fish and lean meats, rather than canned, smoked or processed. Similarly, fresh or frozen vegetables are better than canned.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that if people cut just 1/2 teaspoon of salt per day, it could help lower the number of new cases of heart disease per year by up to 120,000.
Further, potassium found in foods like sweet potatoes, spinach, bananas, oranges, low-fat milk and halibut can counterbalance the pressure-increasing effects of sodium by helping to rid the body of excess sodium.
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Why You Should Take Your Own Blood Pressure At Home Or On The Go
Because of regular fluctuations in blood pressure, white-coat syndrome, and masked hypertension, doctors may recommend self-monitoring for people with HBP. There are many benefits to taking your own BP:
- Knowing your actual, average blood pressure outside of regular fluctuations
- Gaining more control over your blood pressure
- Tracking your progress
- Saving time and possibly money from frequent doctor visits and complications
How Are Low Blood Sugar Levels Treated
Your diabetes health care team will give you guidelines for treating low blood sugar levels, depending on your symptoms. If you can, try to test your blood sugar levels to make sure that your symptoms are because of hypoglycemia. If you can’t test blood sugar immediately, don’t delay in treating your symptoms you can always check your blood sugar after you’ve taken steps to get your blood sugar back up into the normal range.
When blood sugar levels are low, the goal is to get them back up quickly. To do that, you should take in sugar or sugary foods, which raise the blood sugar level quickly. Your health care team might suggest that you:
- Eat, drink, or take something that contains sugar that can get into the blood quickly. Your doctor may tell you to have really sugary foods or drinks or might give you glucose tablets or gel to take all of these can help to raise your blood sugar level fast, which is what you need to do when it’s low.
- Wait about 10 minutes to let the sugar work.
- Recheck your blood sugar level with a glucose meter to see if blood sugar levels are back to normal.
- Get a glucagon shot , if your symptoms are severe or get worse after you eat, drink, or take glucose.
Sometimes, blood sugar levels can get so low that you may not be awake enough to eat or drink something to get them back up. When this happens, you may need a glucagon shot.
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How Is High Blood Pressure Treated
Treating high blood pressure depends on the severity of your condition.
Your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan that will help you manage your blood pressure.
At first, you may need to take medications to help lower your blood pressure.
For example, you can take a combination of beta-blockers and diuretics to reduce the amount of sodium and water in your kidneys. This helps your body get rid of extra sodium and water, which can slow the progression of high blood pressure.
Your doctor may also give you a diuretic or beta-blocker to help lower the number of blood vessels that are damaged. This helps your body get rid of extra fluid.
If your blood pressure doesnt respond to these treatments, you may need to take a blood pressure medication that can lower your blood pressure. These medications are called angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.
Some people may need to take a combination of drugs to treat high blood pressure.
If You Regularly Have High Blood Sugar Levels
Having high blood sugar levels regularly is not something you should live with. This is because in the long-term it can increase your risk of developing diabetes complications, such as neuropathy and retinopathy.
If you notice that your blood sugar levels are often high, you should contact your diabetes healthcare team. They will review your treatment and provide you with advice on how to get your blood sugar levels back within your target range. This advice may include increasing your medication.
In the video below, Lynsey talks to Khalida about feeling anxious after getting a high blood sugar level reading. If youre finding it hard to deal with similar feelings, weve got information on emotional health that you may find helpful.
What To Do If You Have A Blood Sugar Spike
For those with diabetes, having a blood sugar spike can be dangerous because too much sugar in the blood passes into the urine. This triggers the body to filter out the fluid, which could lead to dehydration or a diabetic coma.
In the event that blood sugar levels spike because of stressors that cannot be managed, its vital to make managing your blood glucose a priority. You can do this by focusing on things you can control, such as your diet and exercise, checking your blood sugar regularly, and taking your medications as instructed by your physician.