What Causes High Blood Sugar Levels
Managing diabetes is like a three-way balancing act because you have to watch:
All three need to be balanced. If any one of these is off, blood sugar levels can be too. In general, higher than normal blood glucose levels can be caused by:
- not taking your diabetes medicine when you’re supposed to or not taking the right amounts
- not following the meal plan
- not getting enough exercise
- having an illness, like the flu
- taking other kinds of medicines that affect how your diabetes medicines work
A single high blood sugar reading usually isn’t cause for alarm it happens to everyone with diabetes from time to time. But if you have high blood sugar levels a lot, let your parents and your diabetes health care team know. Insulin or meal plans may need adjusting, or you may have an equipment issue, like an insulin pump that isn’t working right. Whatever the case, make sure you get help so you can get your blood sugar levels back under control.
Think About What’s Going On
Irene Dunbar, 73, of Durham, N.C., woke up one morning recently to discover her blood sugar was at 119, which is high for her. “I had a cold and had had orange juice yesterday and I normally do not drink orange juice and I thought, ‘I better not do that,'” she said. When she gets a high blood sugar reading, she tries to remember if she had anything recentlylike breadthat she knows are triggers, and avoids them next time.
How Can I Treat Low Blood Sugar
If youve had low blood sugar without feeling or noticing symptoms , you may need to check your blood sugar more often to see if its low and treat it. Driving with low blood sugar can be dangerous, so be sure to check your blood sugar before you get behind the wheel.
Carry supplies for treating low blood sugar with you. If you feel shaky, sweaty, or very hungry or have other symptoms, check your blood sugar. Even if you dont have symptoms but think you may have low blood sugar, check it. If your blood sugar is lower than 70 mg/dL, do one of the following immediately:
- Take four glucose tablets.
- Drink four ounces of fruit juice.
- Drink four ounces of regular soda, not diet soda.
- Eat four pieces of hard candy.
Wait for 15 minutes and then check your blood sugar again. Do one of the above treatments again until your blood sugar is 70 mg/dL or above and eat a snack if your next meal is an hour or more away. If you have problems with low blood sugar, ask your doctor if your treatment plan needs to be changed.
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Know Your Body Mass Index
Being overweight or obese puts you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. BMI is an easy way to estimate excess fat. Even a small change in body weight can reduce your risk of diabetes.
If your score is:
25.029.9 = Overweight/Pre-obese 30.0 and over = Obese
To calculate your BMI, you can use the BMI chart or the formulas at the bottom of this page or complete the Canadian diabetes risk questionnaire.
Type 1 Diabetes High Blood Sugar Symptoms
Wondering about the signs and symptoms of hyperglycemiaor high blood sugar? High blood sugar occurs in type 1 diabetes when the body has too much glucose/food or not enough insulin. Having hyperglycemia symptoms doesnt immediately put you in danger but regular high blood-sugar levels over time does. Thats because they can lead to complications including blindness, heart disease, kidney failure and amputation. What are the symptoms of high blood sugar? Thirst Frequent urination Stomach pain Blurry vision Increased Hunger Other signs of hyperglycemia With high blood sugar, you may also experience drowsiness, exhaustion, nausea or vomiting, confusion, fruity or sweet-smelling breath, impaired concentration and sweating. And, having very high blood-glucose levels for an extended period can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis . DKA happens when the body starts to burn fat and body tissue for energy. This releases toxic acids called ketones that build up in the blood and urineand can lead to a diabetic coma. So if youre experiencing any of the above signs or symptoms, its important to get checked out by your doctor. The earlier high blood-sugar issues are treated, the better. Your support is more critical than everContinue reading > >
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What Should My Blood Sugar Levels Be
Your blood sugar level changes depending on what you’ve eaten, whether you’ve exercised and other factors but we have some general guidelines to determine what levels are healthy.
For generally healthy individuals who haven’t eaten for eight hours or more, a normal blood sugar level is between 70-99 mg/dL. When you’ve eaten in the past two hours, it should be no higher than 140 mg/dL. To refresh your chemistry knowledge, that unit is milligrams per deciliter and it’s measuring the amount of glucose present in your blood.
Only a medical professional can diagnose diabetes or another issue with your blood sugar, so if you’re concerned about your blood sugar levels, check with a doctor.
High Blood Sugar Levels
Different targets have been set by various health organizations, but the American Diabetes Association has stated that fasting blood sugar should be between 80-130mg/dL, and two hours after a meal it should be less than 180mg/dL.
Some people experience high blood sugar in the mornings for several common reasons, like the Dawn Phenomenon. Fasting blood sugar is important to note, as it can give an idea of where your blood sugar naturally settles after a period without intervention.
Blood sugar rises after a meal, and then comes back down . Postprandial blood sugar is where it lands at the end of the trend line, which is generally two hours after the meal. If blood sugar is 180 mg/dL two hours after a meal, it could mean mis-calculating carb intake. Knowing the range your doctor has identified as a healthy rise is important in being aware of your bodys processes. Any number above your specific ranges is considered to be high.
Glucose is needed by your body, but when it rises too high over an extended period of time, it can have lasting detrimental effects. Its important that you regularly monitor your blood sugar levels so that youre aware of how your body is responding to your diabetes care plan.
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The Classic Symptoms Of High Blood Sugar Are Polyuria Polydipsia And Polyphagia
In plain English, that means excessive urination, excessive thirst, and excessive hunger. Any doctor who hears this trio of complaints will reach for a blood glucose meter. But often, the person experiencing these symptoms doesnt notice them right away. This is partly because they often creep up on a person in a gradual fashion, and partly because the signs and symptoms of high blood glucose arent well known among people who dont have diabetes or dont know they have diabetes.
What Is High Blood Glucose
People who do not have diabetes typically have fasting plasma blood glucose levels that run under 100 mg/dl.
Your physician will define for you what your target blood glucose should be identifying a blood glucose target that is as close to normal as possible that you can safely achieve given your overall medical health. In general, high blood glucose, also called ‘hyperglycemia’, is considered “high” when it is 160 mg/dl or above your individual blood glucose target. Be sure to ask your healthcare provider what he or she thinks is a safe target for you for blood glucose before and after meals.
If your blood glucose runs high for long periods of time, this can pose significant problems for your long-term increased risk of complications, such as eye disease, kidney disease, heart attacks and strokes and more. High blood glucose can pose health problems in the short-term as well. Your treatment plan may need adjustment if the blood glucose stays over 180 mg/dl for 3 days in a row. It is important to aim to keep your blood glucose under control and treat hyperglycemia when it occurs.
- Increased thirst
- Slow healing cuts and sores
- Unexplained weight loss
- Too much food
- Too little exercise or physical activity
- Skipped or not enough diabetes pills or insulin
- Insulin that has spoiled after being exposed to extreme heat or freezing cold
- Stress, illness, infection, injury or surgery
- A blood glucose meter that is not reading accurately
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What Are Risk Factors For Hyperglycemia
Major risk factors for hyperglycemia are:
- You have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
- You are African American, Native American, Hispanic or Asian American.
- You are overweight.
- You have high blood pressure or cholesterol.
- You have polycystic ovarian syndrome .
- You have a history of gestational diabetes.
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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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.
Switch medications. Your doctor may change the amount, timing, or type of diabetes medications you take. Donât make changes without talking to them first.
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.
Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome : When Hyperglycemia Becomes Severe For People With Type 2 Diabetes
Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome is very rare, but you should be aware of it and know how to handle it if it occurs. HHNS is when your blood glucose level goes way too highyou become extremely hyperglycemic. HHNS affects people with type 2 diabetes.
HHNS is most likely to occur when you’re sick, and elderly people are most likely to develop it. It starts when your blood glucose level starts to climb: when that happens, your body will try to get rid of all the excess glucose through frequent urination. That dehydrates your body, and you’ll become very thirsty.
Unfortunately, when you’re sick, it’s sometimes more difficult to rehydrate your body, as you know you should. For example, it might be difficult to keep fluids down. When you don’t rehydrate your body, the blood glucose level continues to climb, and it can eventually go so high that it could send you into a coma.
To avoid hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome, you should keep close watch on your blood glucose level when you’re sick .
Talk to your healthcare professional about having a sick-day plan to follow that will help you avoid HHNS.
You should also be able to quickly recognize the signs and symptoms of HHNS, which include:
Extremely high blood glucose level
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When Should I Check My Blood Sugar
How often you check your blood sugar depends on the type of diabetes you have and if you take any diabetes medicines.
Typical times to check your blood sugar include:
- When you first wake up, before you eat or drink anything.
- Before a meal.
- Two hours after a meal.
- At bedtime.
If you have type 1 diabetes, have type 2 diabetes and take insulin, or often have low blood sugar, your doctor may want you to check your blood sugar more often, such as before and after youre physically active.
What To Do If Your Blood Sugar Is Too Low
You’ll need to test your blood sugar if you think you have hypoglycemia.Although type 2 diabetes is characterized by blood sugar that is too high, some people take insulin and others medications that can occasionally drive blood sugar too low. When blood sugar is too lowgenerally less than 70 mg/dLit’s called hypoglycemia, and it can become a medical emergency. You can lose consciousness Hypoglycemia is more likely to occur when you start taking a new medication or if you exercise more than usual. As blood sugar drops to low levels, you may feel: Shaky Irritable Sweaty This can occur within 10 to 15 minutes, and in extreme cases you can even lose consciousness and experience seizures if you don’t consume some glucose . Hypoglycemia”My blood sugar was really plummeting” Watch videoMore about blood sugar monitoring You’ll need to test your blood sugar to confirm that you’re having hypoglycemiasome people become irritable if blood sugar is too high, so it’s not always obvious. If you drink sugar-containing juice, or some other form of carbohydrate, it should bring blood sugar back into the normal range. You can also purchase glucose pills or gels in the pharmacy that can get blood sugar back on track. You should always have a glucose source in the car, says Yvonne Thigpen, RD, diabetes program coorContinue reading > >
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Gestational Diabetes: Troubleshooting Highreadings
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is notintended and should not be construed as medical advice. Consultyour health provider. This particular web section isdesigned to help present some ideas forcoping with/preventing higher readings. It should bere-emphasized that nothing herein should beconsidered medical advice.
What do you do if you get a higher reading than you aresupposed to? First off, don’t panic. There are any number offactors that can cause an incorrectly high reading, and you needto rule these out before confirming the high reading. Alwaysre-test to confirm a high number! You need to knowif there was an error of some kind.
The very first thing you do if you get a high number is to gowash your hands thoroughly and then re-test. Any bits of foodon your fingers can significantly affect your numbers. Aresidue of juice or a drop of fruit pulp on your hand couldelevate your readings tremendously. Other substances on yourhands might also possibly affect your readings, so washing yourhands really well before doing a reading is very, very important.
Excessive amounts of fats, too, are thought by some to raise insulin resistance and thus bG. This isa current controversy fats are known to slow down absorption ofcarbs, but too many are thought by some to increase insulinresistance too much. Ask your dietician for her opinion.
References – See theNutrition Section for references
How Can I Pay For Tests And Diabetes Supplies
Medicareexternal icon, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans pay for the A1C test and fasting blood sugar test as well as some diabetes supplies. Check your plan or ask your health care team for help finding low-cost or free supplies, and see How to Save Money on Diabetes Care for more resources.
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How Do I Check My Blood Sugar
You use a blood glucose meter to check your blood sugar. This device uses a small drop of blood from your finger to measure your blood sugar level. You can get the meter and supplies in a drug store or by mail.
Read the directions that come with your meter to learn how to check your blood sugar. Your health care team also can show you how to use your meter. Write the date, time, and result of the test in your blood sugar record. Take your blood sugar record and meter to each visit and talk about your results with your health care team.
What If It Goes Untreated
Hyperglycemia can be a serious problem if you don’t treat it, so it’s important to treat as soon as you detect it. If you fail to treat hyperglycemia, a condition called ketoacidosis could occur. Ketoacidosis develops when your body doesn’t have enough insulin. Without insulin, your body can’t use glucose for fuel, so your body breaks down fats to use for energy.
When your body breaks down fats, waste products called ketones are produced. Your body cannot tolerate large amounts of ketones and will try to get rid of them through the urine. Unfortunately, the body cannot release all the ketones and they build up in your blood, which can lead to ketoacidosis.
Ketoacidosis is life-threatening and needs immediate treatment. Symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
Talk to your doctor about how to handle this condition.
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