How Do You Feel When Your Blood Sugar Is Too High
Whether you are at risk for diabetes mellitus or already have it, its essential to listen to your body for signs of high blood sugar. The following symptoms can indicate that your blood sugar is higher than normal, a condition called hyperglycemia:
- Trouble thinking or concentrating
Its important to monitor your blood sugar because severely elevated blood sugar levels can lead to a life-threatening medical emergency and result in coma or other dangerous conditions. Elevated blood sugars over years can cause long-term effects such as poor wound healing, nerve, blood cell, and kidney damage, heart disease, stroke, and vision problems.
Keep in mind that, in many cases, low blood sugar follows an episode of high blood sugar, says M. Kara, MD, the founder of KaraMD. Repeat episodes are sometimes considered a precursor to diabetes.
Those with prediabetes may be prescribed medication to keep blood sugar levels in check. There are also ways to lower your blood sugar naturally. Keeping your blood glucose levels in the healthy range decreases your risk of diabetes complications. Those with Type 1 diabetes will need insulin regardless of their good habits.
Take Some Pressure Off
When stress is high, so is a hormone in your body called cortisol. Too much of it messes with how well your body manages sugar in the blood. If you can get stress out of your life, do it. If not, change how you react to it: Take up meditation, eat and sleep well, see a counselor, and exercise. Taking care of your mental health boosts your physical health, too.
What Factors Affect Blood Sugar
You can guess that carbohydrate intake and insulin production are at least partly responsible for your blood sugar levels. But the list is much longer — almost every lifestyle choice you make can affect your blood sugar. Here’s just a partial list.
- Exercise can affect insulin sensitivity, leading to lower blood sugar for up to 48 hours.
- Alcohol intake increases insulin production, causing low blood sugar.
- Stress hormones like cortisol can raise blood sugar, because your body wants access to energy in order to escape what it perceives as a dangerous situation.
- Medications, especially statins and diuretics, can raise blood sugar. Statins are used to treat cholesterol, and diuretics for high blood pressure.
- Diet is a major player in blood sugar. Eating too many simple carbs at once can cause levels to skyrocket, while protein intake leads to a slower increase in blood sugar.
- Dehydration raises blood sugar, because with less water in your body the glucose concentration will be higher.
Other surprising factors can affect your blood sugar, like a sunburn or gum disease, so if you’re dealing with a blood sugar issue and can’t figure out what’s causing your spikes and dips, talk to a health care professional.
You May Like: Smirnoff Ice Nutrition Sugar
What Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis
If you think you may have low blood sugar, check it even if you dont have symptoms.
When too many ketones are produced too fast, they can build up in your body and cause diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA. DKA is very serious and can cause a coma or even death. Common symptoms of DKA include:
- Fast, deep breathing.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Stomach pain.
If you think you may have DKA, test your urine for ketones. Follow the test kit directions, checking the color of the test strip against the color chart in the kit to see your ketone level. If your ketones are high, . DKA requires treatment in a hospital.
DKA happens most in people with type 1 diabetes and is sometimes the first sign of type 1 in people who havent yet been diagnosed. People with type 2 diabetes can also develop DKA, but its less common.
Normal Fasting Blood Sugar For Person Without Diabetes
A normal fasting blood glucose for someone who does not have diabetes ranges from 70 to 99 mg/dl. The American Diabetes Association recommends a routine screening for type 2 diabetes starting at age 45. If the results are normal, the screening should be repeated every 3 years.
If have diabetes risk factors, which include being overweight or obese, having a family history of type 2 diabetes, having a history of gestational diabetes, or being of a certain race/ethnicity , you should be screened for diabetes sooner than age 45.
Children and adolescents who have diabetes symptoms or who are overweight and have a family history of type 2 diabetes, are of African American, Latino, Asian American, Native American or Pacific Islander descent, who have signs of prediabetes or a mother who had gestational diabetes should be tested beginning at age 10 and then every 3 years thereafter.
A fasting blood sugar of 100 to 125 mg/dl is indicative of prediabetes, which is a condition where blood sugar levels are above normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Prediabetes is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Its managed by lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication.
You May Like: What Fruit Has The Highest Sugar
How Often Is A1c Tested
To keep A1C levels in check, patients should have the test repeated regularly. If the A1C is less than 5.7, indicating you dont have diabetes, you should have it checked every three years, according to Robert Williams, MD, a family doctor and geriatrician in Lakewood, Colorado, and a medical advisor for eMediHealth. If it is between 5.7 and 6.4, indicating you are at risk of developing diabetes, you should have it rechecked every one to two years. If you have a confirmed diabetes diagnosis, and your blood sugar is well-controlled, you should have an A1C test every six months. If you already have diabetes and your medications change, or your blood sugar is not well-controlled, you should have an A1C test every three months.
Treating Low Blood Sugar
You are at risk of having a low blood sugar reaction if you:
- Skip or delay a meal or snack
- Take too much insulin or eat too few carbohydrates
- Drink alcohol, especially without eating carbohydrates
Check your blood sugar if you have any of these symptoms:
- Weakness and/or fatigue
If your blood sugar is less than 70 milligrams per deciliter :
- Eat 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrate
- Wait 15 minutes and then recheck your blood sugar
- If your blood sugar is still less than 100 mg/dl, take another 15 grams of carbohydrate and retest your blood sugar in another 15 minutes. Repeat if necessary.
Important: If you have frequent low blood sugars speak to your doctor. You may need changes in your medication and/or meal plan.
Recommended Reading: Is Pedialyte Good For Diabetics
The Power Of Prevention
The high prevalence of adult obesity in America, which is now around 35%, is largely to blame for the prediabetes epidemic, says Dr. Ganda. But if your blood sugar is on the high side, you don’t need to make drastic changes to see improvements. The Diabetes Prevention Program, a landmark study published 15 years ago, showed that cutting out 150 calories per day and walking briskly for 30 minutes, five days a week, cut the risk of developing diabetes by more than half . You should also avoid refined carbohydrates, such as white rice, foods made with white flour, and sugary treats like desserts and sodas. Losing weight is ideal but not absolutely mandatory.
“I tell my patients, don’t be disheartened if you don’t lose weight,” says Dr. Ganda. If you keep exercising regularly, even if your weight doesn’t change, your body composition will change. Losing fat and gaining muscle will improve your response to insulin, as will the exercise itself. “Think of doing exercise as having a little bit of extra insulin on board,” he says.
Why Is Blood Sugar Checking Important
If you live with diabetes, a blood sugar check is paramount to good control. Without knowing your blood glucose numbers, you cannot appropriately dose insulin, treat a low blood sugar, eat a meal, or exercise with ease.
Think of a blood sugar check as a litmus test: the number isnt good or bad, it just gives a person with diabetes feedback on what they need to do next.
If a number is too high , its telling you to take some insulin or get some exercise, whereas if a number is too low, youll need to treat with sugar or some other form of glucose.
If your number is satisfactory, then you can proceed on with your day as planned.
Checking your blood sugar is also important to track long-term goals, like an hba1c test, and to see if youre reaching or even exceeding those goals.
Regularly checking your blood sugar also can give you feedback on whats working and whats not: maybe a particular food isnt working for your management goals, or a type of exercise, like yoga, has really helped to mellow out your blood sugar levels.
Its a good time to check in with yourself and calibrate your management to find what will work best for you, knowing that this can and will change over time.
Recommended Reading: Causes Of High Glucose Levels
Is It Okay To Drink Coffee If You Have Diabetes
Those living with diabetes dont have to go without their favorite coffee drink, but how much caffeine they consume could matteras does the amount of sweeteners that are added.
Research has mixed findings on the effect of coffee, insulin levels, and blood sugar control, says Michelle Routhenstein, MS, RD, a certified diabetes educator and owner of entirelynourished.com. Some studies show that coffee can cause insulin insensitivity, meaning it impairs the bodys ability to utilize blood sugar and place it into the cell where it belongs, leading to high blood sugar readings. While other studies show that coffee over a long-term period may actually help with insulin levels.
According to Routhenstein, an average cup of coffee contains about 70 to 350 mg of chlorogenic acid, a polyphenol that may cause a reduction in blood sugar by inhibiting carbohydrate digestion while also stimulating insulin secretion.
It appears that regular coffee can have an effect on insulin, but the impact varies based on the individual and their overall daily caffeine consumption.
Some studies suggest improved insulin sensitivity and blood glucose response when insulin and blood sugar markers are measured one and two hours after consumption, Dr. Kanji says. There are also a few studies that show worsened glucose metabolism, especially after caffeinated coffee. One study testing 126 people with four cups of caffeinated coffee over 24 weeks found no significant effect on insulin sensitivity.
Stick To An Eating Schedule
Dr. Kara warns against skipping meals frequently to avoid the rollercoaster of high to low blood sugar surges and dips. Spreading your meals out throughout the day, rather than eating a large breakfast or large dinner can help to regulate blood sugar. Eating regularly from morning through evening is the best strategy.
Recommended Reading: Which Cells Produce Hormones To Regulate Blood Sugar
Fasting Plasma Glucose Test
A fasting plasma glucose test is taken after at least eight hours of fasting and is therefore usually taken in the morning.
The NICE guidelines regard a fasting plasma glucose result of 5.5 to 6.9 mmol/l as putting someone at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, particularly when accompanied by other risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
Do Your Blood Sugar Levels Drop When You Sleep
Yes, people with diabetes may experience a blood sugar level that drops when they sleep. This is largely due to a phenomenon called the dawn effect.
This doesn’t always happen and it’s not something that everyone experiences but as time goes on, our bodies will tell us which pattern is best for it: whether we should eat before bed or not. It’s important to experiment with what works best for our individual needs – if eating before bed causes our blood sugar to drop too low, then we’ll know that it’s best to avoid eating for the hours leading up to bed to keep your blood sugar under control.
If we do experience a drop in blood sugar levels, there are some strategies that may help us either prevent or treat it. Some people will take insulin before going to bed if they know their blood sugar is too high others might drink juice or eat cereal with milk before bedtime when they know they have low blood sugar during the night.
Also Check: Most Sugar Fruit
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.
Support Groups And Counseling For High Blood Sugar
You or family members may wish to join a support group with other people to share your experiences. The American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation are both excellent resources. Your health care provider will have information about local groups in your area. The following groups also provide support:
American Association of Diabetes Educators100 W Monroe, Suite 400Chicago, IL 60603
Read Also: What Is Signs Of High Blood Sugar
Low Blood Sugar Symptoms
Hypoglycemia happens when blood glucose levels drop too low. Low blood sugar can be caused by many things including the two different types of diabetes, certain medications, alcohol, endocrine disorders, eating disorders, pregnancy , and disorders of the liver, kidneys, or heart.
Here are some of the most common symptoms that someone with low blood sugar might experience:
- Tingling lips
If your blood sugar is low you might start to feel some of the first signs of hypoglycemia like dizziness, lightheadedness, or sweating. The only way to know for sure if your blood sugar is low is to test it with a glucose meter or other glucose monitoring device.
If you dont have access to these tools and start to feel the symptoms of low blood sugar, consume 15 grams of carbs or take a quick dissolve glucose tablet to raise your blood sugar levels and avoid further symptoms, according to the American Diabetes Association . Once your blood sugar is back in its target range, you can have a snack or meal to make sure it doesnt drop again.
Here are some other lifestyle and medicinal treatments that can help treat hypoglycemia:
- Eat a healthy diet full of whole foods that are minimally processed.
- Take prediabetes or diabetes medications as recommended by your healthcare provider.
- Use a glucagon kit in emergencies. Glucagon is a hormone that raises blood sugar levels quickly.
Preventing Low Blood Sugar
Preventing low blood sugar is better than having to treat it. Always have a source of fast-acting sugar with you.
- When you exercise, check your blood sugar levels. Make sure you have snacks with you.
- Talk to your provider about reducing insulin doses on days that you exercise.
- Ask your provider if you need a bedtime snack to prevent low blood sugar overnight. Protein snacks may be best.
DO NOT drink alcohol without eating food. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day and men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. Family and friends should know how to help. They should know:
- The symptoms of low blood sugar and how to tell if you have them.
- How much and what kind of food they should give you.
- When to call for emergency help.
- How to inject glucagon, a hormone that increases your blood sugar. Your provider will tell you when to use this medicine.
If you have diabetes, always wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace. This helps emergency medical workers know you have diabetes.
Recommended Reading: Vitamins To Stop Sugar Cravings
What Is Hemoglobin A1c
Hemoglobin A1C is a lab test. It indicates an average blood glucose reading for the last 90 days. It is done when you find out you have diabetes, and every 3 months after that at clinic visits. A person without diabetes has a Hemoglobin A1C of less than 5.6%.
Target Hgb A1C is 7.5% for all children and adults with diabetes.
The chart below shows the Hemoglobin A1C result compared with the blood glucose number.
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.
Don’t Miss: What Yogurt Has The Lowest Sugar
What To Do When Your Blood Sugar Is High Or Low
High blood sugar can harm you. If your blood sugar is high, you need to know how to bring it down. Here are some questions to ask yourself if your blood sugar is high.
- Are you eating too much or too little? Have you been following your diabetes meal plan?
- Are you taking your diabetes medicines correctly?
- Has your provider changed your medicines?
- Is your insulin expired? Check the date on your insulin.
- Has your insulin been exposed to very high or very low temperatures?
- If you take insulin, have you been taking the correct dose? Are you changing your syringes or pen needles?
- Are you afraid of having low blood sugar? Is that causing you to eat too much or take too little insulin or other diabetes medicine?
- Have you injected insulin into a firm, numb, bumpy, or overused area? Have you been rotating sites?
- Have you been less or more active than usual?
- Do you have a cold, flu, or another illness?
- Have you had more stress than usual?
- Have you been checking your blood sugar every day?
- Have you gained or lost weight?