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What Can Cause High Blood Sugar Levels

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Causes Related To Lifestyle

Not Eating Sugar Yet High Blood Sugar Levels?

Physical inactivity

Exercising prompts your body to burn more energy than usual, and, as a result, consume more glucose. Maintaining a low level of physical activity, on the other hand, means more glucose will remain in the bloodstream. This raises your overall blood glucose values in the process.

Exercise also makes our body more insulin sensitive, which means we will require less insulin for the rest of the day to control glucose levels.

Stress

Part of the bodyâs fight-or-flight response to stress is to produce additional glucose. Another facet of that response is an increase in the hormone cortisol. High cortisol can reduce the bodyâs sensitivity to insulin. As a result, blood glucose levels may also increase.

Poor sleep

A lack of quality sleep can inhibit how much insulin your body can release. It can also cause the production of cortisol, which makes it harder for insulin to work. When your bodyâs insulin cannot properly metabolize the glucose in your blood, the glucose remains there and your glucose levels rise.

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Does Thyroid Medication Worsen Or Treat Insulin Resistance

One question that I am asked frequently has to do with thyroid medication and whether or not it helps or hurts blood sugar.

The answer is that thyroid medication only impacts blood sugar insofar as it impacts thyroid function in your body.

What do I mean?

It means that it depends on how much you are taking and how much your body actually needs.

It’s possible for thyroid medication to make insulin resistance worse but it’s also possible for thyroid medication to improve your blood sugar.

It depends on how much you are using.

Remember:

Thyroid medication is always taken to treat a deficiency of thyroid hormone in your body.

But taking thyroid medication is NOT the same as allowing your body to produce thyroid hormone on its own and we are never quite as good as your own body is at that.

If you take too much thyroid medication and you become hyperthyroid based on certain lab tests, then you may raise your blood sugar,

I don’t find this to be common for most people because most people are not taking enough thyroid medication.

The situation I see in most patients is that they are not taking ENOUGH thyroid medication or the right type of thyroid medication.

This generally leads to persistently high blood sugar ) and the inability to lose weight.

If you take the right type of thyroid medication it’s usually much easier to lose weight and it has to do with thyroid status in your body .

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.

Page last reviewed: 08 August 2018 Next review due: 08 August 2021

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Great Bedtime Snacks For People Living With Diabetes

For some people, a healthy bedtime snack helps to prevent glucose swings during the night. By eating a small snack that is full of protein and healthy fats , your body may be better able to avoid an overnight high but if you take insulin, be sure to cover the carbohydrates in your snack even if it only requires a small dose of insulin.

Here are some snack ideas:

  • Plain nuts or seeds try eating a small handful

  • Raw vegetables, such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, or tomatoes, with a small amount of hummus or peanut butter

  • Plain yogurt, and you can add berries or cinnamon

Remember, a bedtime snack is only helpful for some people. To see if it works for you, youll have to carefully monitor your glucose before bed, during the night, and when you wake up.

Treating And Managing Hyperglycaemia

Diabetics

If your blood sugar level is slightly high for a short time, emergency treatment wont be necessary. But if it continues to rise you may need to act fast to avoid developing diabetic ketoacidosis .

If your blood sugar level is 15 mmol/l or more, you should check your blood or urine for ketones. If ketones are present, it is likely that you do not have enough insulin in your body. This means you may need to increase your dose or give yourself an extra dose. Talk to your diabetes team about how to do this if you are unsure.

You should also try to drink plenty of sugar-free fluids to prevent dehydration. And if you are feeling unwell, especially if you are vomiting, you should follow any sick day rules you have been given and contact your diabetes healthcare team for advice.

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Causes Related To Personal Health

Insulin resistance

This condition occurs when the cells in your muscles, fat, and liver are unable to use the glucose in your bloodstream for energy. Your pancreas responds to this increase in glucose by producing more insulin to help your body process it. This excess amount of insulin in the bloodstream can eventually cause your body to lose insulin sensitivity or build resistance to it, leading to higher blood glucose levels.

Bodyweight and body fat

Research connects being overweight and having a higher body fat percentage with high blood glucose levels. In fact, a high body fat percentage might be a clearer indicator of high blood sugar and diabetes than weight or body mass index .

Other health conditions

Certain conditions could make you more likely to have high blood glucose. These include Cushingâs disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome , and gestational diabetes. Blood glucose may also rise as the result of common illnesses like a head cold or the flu.

Hormonal changes

It isnât just stress and sleep that can cause fluctuations in hormones. Illness, physical pain and trauma, menopause or menstruation can as well. In any of these instances, your blood glucose levels may rise due to the changes in your hormone levels.

Medications

Gut issues

A growingbody of research links imbalances in the microbiota living in our guts to an inability to regulate glucose levels in the blood. This is sometimes due to antibiotic use or infection.

Genetics

When To See A Healthcare Provider

Getting professional medical advice from a healthcare provider like an endocrinologist is the best way to learn more about whether your blood sugar levels are where they should be. Not getting proper treatment for low or high blood sugar levels can be serious and lead to health complications, especially for those with diabetes. Diabetes complications include nerve damage, kidney disease, heart disease, or heart attacks.

If you see a healthcare provider about your blood sugar levels, be prepared to answer questions about risk factors like what you eat, how much you exercise, and about your family history. Some healthcare providers may want to take a blood sample to test your blood sugar levels. They may also order an A1C test, which is a blood test that measures blood sugar levels over several months. You may have to fast eight hours beforehand to get accurate test results, so its always a good idea to check before your appointment.

If your blood sugar level goes above 250 mg/dL, you should go to the ER for immediate medical attention, says Dr. Tarugu. Emergency rooms are equipped to handle high blood sugar levels and can administer treatments like insulin therapy and fluid or electrolyte replacement.

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Symptoms And Signs Of High Blood Sugar

Other symptoms and signs of high blood sugar include:

  • Sunburns. Pain from a sunburn causes pain, which increases blood sugars.
  • Coffee. Some people with diabetes have an extra sensitivity to caffeine.
  • Gum disease. Gum disease is a complication of diabetes, and can make blood sugars rise.
  • Loosing sleep. Going a night or two without sleeping can cause the body to use insulin less efficiently.
  • Nose spray. Some nasal sprays have chemicals that trigger the liver to make more blood sugar.

    Severely elevated blood sugar levels can result in a medical emergency . This can occur in both people with type 1 and those with type 2 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes may develop diabetic ketoacidosis , and those with type 2 diabetes can develop hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome . These so-called hyperglycemia crises are serious conditions that can be life threatening if not treated immediately. Hyperglycemic crises cause about 2,400 deaths each year in the U.S.

    Over time, hyperglycemia can lead to damage to organs and tissues. Long-term hyperglycemia can impair the immune response, leading to poor healing of cuts and wounds. It can also cause nerve damage, vision problems, and damage to the blood vessels and kidneys .

    Why Does Alcohol Make Blood Sugar Levels Drop

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    Alcohol makes your blood sugar levels drop by inhibiting the livers ability to release glucose. Alcohol also creates an initial sugar spike that makes your body process sugar at a higher rate, causing the spike in sugar to be quickly metabolized below what is normal. When these two factors are combined, it makes your blood sugar levels drop after the initial spike in sugar.

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    Causes Of High Blood Sugar

    The leading causes of high blood sugar or hyperglycemia include:

    Diet: Glucose comes from food, so what you are eating causes high blood sugar. Carbohydrates are the most common culprit as they are broken down into glucose very quickly in the body. High-sugar foods, high-fat foods, and processed foods also cause blood glucose spikes and should be replaced with healthier options.

    Stress: When you are stressed, more stress hormones and chemicals are released, which drives blood sugar levels up too. If the stress is only temporary, this is not a serious issue, but if you experience chronic stress or an anxiety disorder, you may experience high blood sugar levels more often.

    Metabolic Syndrome: These are a collection of conditions that occur at the same time and increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. High blood pressures, excess fat around the waist, and high cholesterol or triglycerides are examples of these conditions. When these occur in the body together, your risk for diabetes increases as does your blood sugar and the risk for potential complications.

    Physical Inactivity: A lack of physical activity contributes to elevated blood sugar. When you are physically active each day, insulin works more efficiently, and your blood sugar can be maintained.

    Planning For Sick Days

    Your body releases stress hormones when you are sick, which can cause hyperglycemia. Keep taking your insulin and other diabetes medications, even if you are throwing up. If you have ketones and your blood sugar is above 240 mg/dL, call your doctor. They might also want you to call if:

    • You have diarrhea that lasts more than 6 hours
    • You are throwing up
    • You have a high fever or trouble breathing
    • You feel very sleepy or confused

    Continue checking your blood sugar levels and keep track of the results.

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    Is Having High Blood Glucose Dangerous

    In short, it can be. Zanini says that untreated high blood glucose can lead to a wide range of health issuesâsome of the most common being chronic inflammation, heart disease, vision impairment, kidney disease, nerve damage, tooth decay, damaged blood vessels, and periodontal disease.

    Having high blood glucose also puts us at risk of mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress. The former is a condition in which mitochondria fail to produce energy for cells. The latter occurs when free radicals outnumber antioxidants in the body and increase the risk of disease and other damage.

    Phipps notes to avoid these risks, catching high blood glucose early on, then taking action to treat it is extremely important.

    How To Stabilize Your Blood Sugar Overnight

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    The most important thing you can do to stabilize your blood sugar is monitor your glucose levels at bedtime, during the night, and when you wake up to look for patterns. This will help you determine whats going on in your body and how you can fix it. While there are many strategies people use to stabilize blood sugar at night, every person is different youll have to look for trends in your body, experiment with ways to lower glucose levels over a period of time, and learn what works best for your body.

    • Check your blood sugar before bed. If its already high, your blood sugar levels may remain high throughout the night. To address this, youll want to start by adjusting when you eat your evening meal and what it consists of, and how much mealtime insulin you take to cover it.

    • Avoid eating lots of food close to bedtime. For diaTribe writer Adam Brown, the key to staying in range overnight is low-carb, early dinners, with no snacking after dinner.

    • Consider eating less food at night and taking more basal insulin to cover your evening meal.

  • Check your blood sugar during the night, between midnight and 3am. If you were in range before bed but have high glucose levels between midnight and 3am, you may need to adjust your basal insulin dosage and timing. If you are low during that time, you may experience a rebound high blood sugar later on this is usually associated with overcorrecting the low.

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    A Bananas Effect On Blood Sugar Depends On Its Ripeness

    Yellow, or ripe, bananas contain less resistant starch than green bananas, as well as more sugar, which is more quickly absorbed than starch.

    This means fully ripe bananas have a higher GI and will cause your blood sugar to rise faster than green unripe bananas .

    Summary

    Green bananas contain resistant starch, which doesnt raise blood sugar levels and may improve long-term blood sugar management. Yellow bananas contain more sugar, so they may cause a bigger rise in blood sugar.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Hyperglycemia

    Its especially important to know the early signs of hyperglycemia if you have type 1 diabetes. If hyperglycemia is left untreated in people with type 1 diabetes, it can develop into ketoacidosis, where ketones, which are toxic acids, build up in the blood. This condition is an emergency situation that can lead to coma or death.

    Early symptoms of hyperglycemia include:

    • High blood sugar.
    • Unusual fruity smell on the breath.
    • Deep labored breathing or hyperventilation.
    • Rapid heartbeat.

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    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.

    Maintain An Active Lifestyle

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    Take breaks during a sedentary workday, add a walk around the block to your morning routine, or try a new form of exercise. These activities bring great benefit in both the short and long term while helping reduce your overall stress. Including regular strength training and aerobic exercise will help to lower glucose values, as well.

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    Whats The Relationship Between Alcohol And Diabetes

    There is debate on whether light to moderate amounts of alcohol use can increase the risk of diabetes. Alcohol use, however, is known to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. There are several ways that alcohol may do this, including:

    • Damaging your pancreas where insulin is made
    • Increasing your weight, a known risk factor for diabetes
    • Impairing the liver, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels

    The safest way to avoid any of the potential risks of alcohol and diabetes is to avoid using alcohol altogether.

    If you want to start living an alcohol-free life but cant seem to stop, help is available. Contact The Recovery Village to discuss treatment options that can fit your needs.

    Signs Of High Blood Sugar

    Someone who has been diagnosed with diabetes will be familiar with how it feels to have hyperglycemia. But for the millions of people who have diabetes or prediabetes and are unaware of it, knowing the signs of high blood sugar could prompt them to seek care and get a diagnosis as soon as possible.

    While type 1 diabetes symptoms can come on suddenly and severely, its important to note that type 2 diabetes symptoms can creep up gradually and be so mild that theyre not noticeable, the NIDDK explains. And most people with prediabetes actually have no symptoms, per the NIDDK. So its extremely important to get screened if you have risk factors, like having a family history, being overweight, or being over age 45, the NIDDK says.

    Still, there are many potential signs of high blood sugar in the short and long term that it doesnt hurt to be conscious of, especially if you are at elevated risk.

    Early on, hyperglycemia can make you feel off in a variety of ways:

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