Ways To Lower Blood Sugar Quickly And Safely
First, if youve missed an insulin dose or your pump is not working, the first thing to do is correct the underlying problem, according to Dr. Wright. Insulin is a normal hormone in our body that’s normally produced by the pancreas and what insulin does is it acts as a shuttle and it shuttles glucose from the blood and into the cells so that it can be used as fuel, explains Dr. Hong. So, for somebody with diabetes, if they have high blood glucoses, by giving themself more insulin they’re essentially helping to facilitate the movement of glucose into the cells so that the blood glucose levels drop and the cells receive more fuel or glucose.
Take missed diabetes medication
I don’t generally recommend that you take it on an as-needed basis, says Dr. Hong. Typically, diabetes medications are meant to be taken on a daily basis or in a scheduled way. If you forget to take your medication, then absolutely, your blood sugars can go up, and then if you take it again, the sugars will certainly come back down, says Dr. Hong. Just keep in mind that medications wont work as quickly as insulin, especially if its been a while since you had your last dose or if you havent been taking it as often as you should.
Go for a walk
The Blood Sugar Level Regulation Mechanism
When you eat rice, bread, or any other typical food high in carbohydrates, it is digested by the stomach and small intestine, where it is absorbed into the blood as glucose. Figure 1 shows how it is absorbed into the body.
Figure 1: Absorption of glucose
When glucose enters the bloodstream, insulin facilitates its uptake into the body’s cells. When an excess of glucose is ingested, insulin over secretion occurs. Insulin increases the biosynthesis of fat and suppresses its breakdown. Thus, it becomes easier for fat to accumulate in body tissues.
Blood sugar level will not drop if the sugar in the blood is not properly processed due to, for example, too little insulin being secreted, or resistance to the action of insulin. If blood sugar levels have not decreased several hours after eating on a regular basis, this indicates a susceptibility to diabetes. To avoid this and stay healthy, we should eat types of foods that will not cause a sudden, extreme rise in blood sugar levels.
What is BMI?
What is a healthy blood sugar level
- Fasting blood sugar level 99mg/dL
- Postprandial blood sugar level 7.8mmol/L
Are Occasional Blood Sugar Spikes Ok
It is normal for the blood sugar to rise a small amount after eating, even in people who do not have diabetes. However, if the spike is too high, it can affect your quality of life today and contribute to serious health problems down the road. The reason blood sugar spikes is a simple matter of timing.
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Choose The Right Medication
Two classes of injectable hormones, GLP-1 agonists , semaglutide ) and amylin mimetics , have powerful effects on post-meal blood sugar. Both GLP-1s and Symlin slow gastric emptying and keep carbohydrates from raising the blood sugar too quickly after meals. Symlin, which is a replacement for the amylin hormone , also helps to diminish appetite and blunt post-meal glucagon secretion. GLP-1s blunt appetite and promote the growth of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas of those with type 2 diabetes. So both can contribute to better post-meal high blood glucose control.
Your choice of oral medication can also impact your after-meal control. Sulfonylureas stimulate the pancreas to secrete a little extra insulin throughout the day, without regard to meal timing. Because these medications fail to concentrate the insulin secretion at times when it is needed most, after-meal blood sugars can run very high. There are alternative medications called meglitinides which also stimulate the pancreas but do so in a much faster and shorter manner. When taken at mealtimes, meglitinides produce better after-meal high blood glucose control than sulfonylureas.
Another class of oral diabetes medications improve after-meal control by partially blocking the transport of sugars across the intestines and into the bloodstream. However, these medications can sometimes cause gas, bloating and stomach upset, so the pros dont always outweigh the cons.
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 .
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How Do I Detect Spikes In My Sugar Levels
The exact timing of blood sugar spikes can vary from person to person and meal to meal. However, on average, the post-meal peaks tend to be about one hour and 15 minutes after starting a meal.
The best way to measure post-meal patterns is by using a continuous glucose monitor or Flash monitors. These devices can give you a clear view, including graphs, of what happens with the glucose levels after meals without the need for finger pricking . You can ask your diabetes health team if they are available for you as they are not available to everybody.
If you are not using a CGM, then please speak to your healthcare team about the best way to do this for you with finger prick testing.
How do I know it is a spike?
There is no universal answer or specific guidelines on when a sugar level is too high after meals. However, if post-meal readings are consistently above your target range , then you should discuss whether it would be beneficial for you to address these spikes and how to do this, with your healthcare team .
If you are reviewing your post-breakfast sugar levels, you should also be aware of changes in your hormones in the morning, which cause increases in sugar levels . This Digibete video may help.
Some ways to reduce blood sugar spikes after meals
1. Choose low glycaemic index foods
When blood sugar levels are low or hypoglycaemic we need high glycaemic index foods , such as dextrose tablets or juice, that are absorbed quickly to raise our levels and to treat the hypo.
Is Blood Sugar Higher One Or Two Hours After Eating
Blood sugar level rises almost immediately after eating a meal or a snack.
In a healthy person, insulin starts to perform its function after this spike, causing the blood sugar to return to normal after two hours of a meal.
However, suppose your blood sugar fails to return to normal after more than two hours of a meal. It might indicate a more serious health condition.
This condition is often common in individuals who are diabetic.
Untreated patients with diabetes would still have hyperglycemia even after two hours of the meal.
This results from your bodies inability to utilize insulin to regulate glucose in the bloodstream.
As a result, blood sugar levels may rise immediately after eating in a person without diabetes, especially after eating foods that contain a high amount of sugar.
However, the increase should regulate in about two hours after meals.
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High Blood Sugar Symptoms
The most common symptoms of hyperglycemia are:
- Increased thirst and/or hunger
“If someone has hyperglycemia, it would mean they would be very thirsty, tired, they might be urinating more frequently and basically not feeling well,” says Sam Zager, M.D. a family medicine physician in Maine.
When To Seek Medical Care
I would say that anybody with type 1 diabetes, first of all, they should always carry ketone sticks with them, says Dr. Hong. So, if blood sugars were to run high or they were to feel sickly, they should test their urine for ketones and if that is positive, they should seek care from a doctor or an emergency room. She says anyone should seek care if they feel very sick, have nausea, vomiting, severe abdominal pain, confusion, or trouble thinking clearly. And then, if they are checking blood glucoses and they notice that their sugars are running significantly higher than what they’re used to and it’s not responding to any of their usual care such as drinking water or taking their insulin, they should absolutely seek care and speak to the doctor as well, Dr. Hong adds.
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How To Lower Morning Blood Sugar
Whether a morning high is caused by the dawn phenomenon or something else, here are a few things you can try to lower your blood sugar levels:
Physical activity when you wake up can help bring your glucose level down. Even going for a walk can be helpful.
To learn about exercise guidelines and glucose management strategies, click here.
Read Adam Browns take on walking the most underrated diabetes exercise strategy.
Eating a light breakfast can help keep a morning high from increasing even more. Taking your mealtime insulin will help lower your blood sugar.
Adam Brown suggests eating a breakfast that is low in carbs, and notes that sometimes mealtime insulin has to be adjusted in the morning. One of his favorite breakfasts is chia pudding, since it has little impact on glucose levels see what else he eats for breakfast here.
Catherine Newman has six popular, low-carb, delicious recipes in The Morning Meal.
Intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding approaches to meal timing can also help people keep morning blood sugar levels in range. Read Justine Szafrans Intermittent Fasting: Stabilizing My Morning Blood Sugars to learn more.
For additional ways to navigate mornings, read seven strategies from Adam Brown in A Home Run Breakfast with Diabetes.
This article is part of a series on time in range.
Problems Associated With High Blood Sugar
Frequent high blood pressure puts patients at risk of diabetes complications that can be potentially serious. Even when blood sugar does not reach acutely dangerous levels, complications can develop over time if blood sugar is consistently above a patients target range. Serious conditions and complications associated with high blood glucose include:
- Damage to the blood vessels of the eyes
- Nerve damage in the feet and hands
- Increased risk of kidney disease
- Increased risk of heart problems like heart disease
Depending on the type of diabetes a patient has, there are two different extreme forms of hyperglycemia as well. Ketoacidosis is severe hyperglycemia that impacts people with type 1 diabetes. Ketoacidosis occurs when the body runs out of glucose and begins to use ketones, a type of toxic acid, for energy. Ketoacidosis can lead to diabetic coma or even death, and it is extremely serious. Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome is a severe form of hyperglycemia that impacts people with Type 2 diabetes. It occurs when the blood glucose level goes too high and the body tries to rid itself of the excess glucose through frequent urination. If the body becomes dehydrated enough, it can go into a coma.
When To Contact Your Doctor
Hyperglycemia can turn into a medical emergency like DKA and HHS that requires immediate intervention by your doctor or a local emergency department. If you have two blood sugar readings of 300 mg/dL or more, or have blood sugar above your target range for more than a week, seek immediate medical help.
Signs of hyperglycemia include:
- Ketones in your urine
- Stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
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.
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Why Blood Sugar Spikes At Night & How To Prevent It
In a time when youre constantly pressured to work more and generally do more things, the importance of good sleep is often overlooked. However, poor sleep can weigh you down and negatively affect your mood, memory, digestion, and physical activity. It can impact your appetite, cravings, and glucose metabolism. Lack of sleep can diminish your bodys sensitivity to insulin and elevate your blood sugar levels, even causing blood sugar spikes.
Blood sugar spikes can contribute to the development of diabetes, raising your HbA1c over time. If you have diabetes, blood sugar spikes can become dangerous, making it hard to maintain glycemic control and raising your risk of diabetic ketoacidosis and other diabetes-related complications.
Taking the appropriate steps to avoid blood sugar spikes at night can help you get better sleep, maintain better blood sugar control, and improve your quality of life.
Here, youll learn about blood sugar spikes and why they happen, common causes, and tips to prevent blood sugar spikes at night.
What Causes High Morning Blood Sugars
Two main culprits prompt morning highs: the dawn phenomenon and waning insulin. A third, much rarer cause, known as the Somogyi effect, may also be to blame.
The occasional morning high will have little impact on your A1C, a measure of your average blood sugar levels over time that indicates how well managed your diabetes is. But if those highs become consistent, they could push your A1C up into dangerous territory.
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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.
Choose The Right Insulin
The right insulin program can make or break your ability to control after-meal spikes. In general, insulins and other medicines that work quickly and for a short time will work better than those that work slowly over a prolonged period.
For instance, rapid-acting insulin analogs , which start working 1015 minutes after injection and peak in about an hour, will cover the after-meal blood glucose rises much better than Regular insulin, which takes 30 minutes to begin working and 23 hours to peak.
Newer ultra-rapid insulins, such as Fiasp , works even faster, with an onset and peak occurring 810 minutes earlier than traditional rapid-acting insulins.
The way insulin is administered can dramatically affect its speed of action. Afrezza is an inhaled insulin formulation that can be used at mealtimes. Because the dry powder is absorbed through the lungs , its onset and peak are much earlier than injected insulin .
Research has also shown that injected insulin can work much faster when the injection site is warmed. This can be accomplished by rubbing the site, immersing in warm water or exercising the muscle near the site. Warming the site causes the blood vessels near the skin to dilate, which allows the insulin to absorb more quickly. By the way, smoking causes the blood vessels to constrict, so quitting smoking might improve your post-meal blood sugar .
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What Is A Blood Sugar Spike
In simple terms, a blood sugar spike is one that overshoots beyond the expected target blood sugar for the index event.
Right, I can hear you shoutingWHAT?at your computer screen or smart phone. Dr Joe, explain some more.
Okay, let me explain.
The American College of Clinical Endocrinologists has a recommended target blood sugar level for when we are fasting, blood sugar level at 1 hour after we eat and target blood sugar 2 hours after a meal.
The recommended blood sugar target levels are shown in the image below. So, if your blood sugar overshoots above that recommended target, then that is a blood sugar spike.
You should see the target as a ceiling rather than something to aim for.
So, for instance, if 1 hour after your meal, your blood sugar is 180mg/dl , that is well over the recommended 1-hour post-meal level of 140 mg/dl . That will constitute a blood sugar spike. Does the definition of a blood sugar spike make sense to you now? I hope so.
Now, what is a blood sugar crash?
A blood sugar crash is when your blood sugar level takes a nose-dive below 72mg/dl . People respond differently to low blood sugar levels differently.
I, for instance can still function reasonably well with blood sugar level of 63mg/dl .
You, on the other hand may be hitting rock bottom at such a level with nasty symptoms of blood sugar crash.
The point being everyone is different. If you are having sugar crash symptoms and your sugar is below 72mg/dl , then it makes sense to act. Its a crash!