Surprising Things That Can Spike Your Blood Sugar
When you first found out you had diabetes, you tested your blood sugar often to understand how food, activity, stress, and illness could affect your blood sugar levels. By now, youve got it figured out for the most part. But thenbam! Something makes your blood sugar zoom up. You try to adjust it with food or activity or insulin, and it dips really low. Youre on a rollercoaster no one with diabetes wants to ride.
Do you know all of these blood sugar triggers?
Knowledge is power! Look out for these surprising triggers that can send your blood sugar soaring:
Food And Blood Sugars
Measuring your blood sugar levels occasionally before and after a meal is a good way to observe how your food choices influence your blood sugar levels. Carbohydrate is the nutrient that has the most impact over your blood sugar because both starches and sugars, which constitute the total carb content of a food, are broken down to glucose and, therefore, contribute to elevating your blood sugar after a meal. If you skip breakfast or go for a few hours without eating, you would probably expect your blood sugar levels to decrease, but it actually causes a blood sugar rise in most people.
Blood Sugar Spike Causes
Blood sugar levels fluctuate all day long. When you eat food, particularly those foods that are high in carbohydrates like bread, potatoes, or pasta, your blood sugar will immediately begin to rise.
If your blood sugar is consistently high, you need to talk to your doctor about improving your diabetes management. Blood sugar rises when:
- youre not taking enough insulin
- your insulin isnt lasting as long as you think it is
- youre not taking your oral diabetes medication
- your medication dosage needs adjusting
- youre using expired insulin
- youre not following your nutritional plan
- you have an illness or infection
- youre using certain medications, like steroids
- youre under physical stress, such as an injury or surgery
- youre under emotional stress, such as trouble at work or home or with money problems
If your blood sugar is usually well-controlled, but youre experiencing unexplained blood sugar spikes, there might be a more acute cause.
Try keeping a record of all the food and drinks you consume. Check your blood sugar levels according to your doctors recommendations.
Its common to record your blood sugar reading first thing in the morning, before youve eaten, and then again two hours after eating. Even a few days of recorded information can help you and your doctor discover whats causing your blood sugar spikes.
Common culprits include:
Patients Case: Dizzy/tired Diabetic With Flunctuating 266 Mg/dl Blood Glucose After Eating
Question: Diabetic feeling tired and dizzy. Blood sugar fluctuating:
fasting glucose level = 112 mg/dL
random blood sugar = 251 mg/dL
after eating glucose = 266 mg/dL
5 hours after meal = 168 mg/dL
8 hours after having lunch = 133 mg/dL
What to do?
Answer: Fluctuating blood glucose levels can be dangerous as they are the cause of the future complications of diabetes. You can treat prediabetes with diet and exercise but not diabetes.
Hypoglycemia causes dizziness and tiredness and must be avoided as it can progress to lower levels and make you faint. In your condition, you can not control your blood glucose levels only by diet and exercise. You need proper medical attention as you tend to have more hypoglycemic episodes and you need to start medication to keep diabetes under control.
You need to repeat the glucose level test and HbA1c test as well. Make sure you do not miss any meals and that you are eating normally. Maybe you are experiencing hypoglycemic episodes because you do not eat properly or because any other underlying condition or medication you have been taking recently for other purposes.
Hope this is helpful for you.
What Is High Blood Sugar
The is the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a sugar that comes from the foods we eat, and it’s also formed and stored inside the body. It’s the main source of energy for the cells of our body, and it’s carried to each cell through the bloodstream.
Hyperglycemia is the medical word for high blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels happen when the body either can’t make insulin or can’t respond to insulin properly . The body needs insulin so glucose in the blood can enter the cells of the body where it can be used for energy. In people who have developed diabetes, glucose builds up in the blood, resulting in hyperglycemia.
Having too much sugar in the blood for long periods of time can cause serious health problems if it’s not treated. Hyperglycemia can damage the vessels that supply blood to vital organs, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve problems. These problems don’t usually show up in kids or teens who have had the disease for only a few years. But they can happen in adulthood in some people with diabetes, particularly if they haven’t managed or controlled their diabetes well.
Blood sugar levels are considered high when they’re above your target range. Your diabetes health care team will let you know what your target blood sugar levels are.
What Causes Blood Sugar To Rise Without Eating Sugar
There is a phenomenon known as the dawn phenomenon, which occurs when people have a surge in hormones in the early morning. A spike in blood sugar can be caused by dehydration, which causes a higher blood sugar level. There are some nose sprays that trigger your liver to produce more blood sugar by triggering your liver.
How Are You Sweetening Your Coffee What You Add To Your Cup May Affect Your Blood Sugar Levels
Whether you were recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or have been living with the condition for several years, you know how fickle blood sugar levels can be, and how important it is that they stay controlled.
Proper blood sugar control is key for warding off potential diabetes complications, such as kidney disease, nerve damage, vision problems, stroke, and heart disease, according to the National Institutes of Health . Plus, keeping your levels in check on a daily basis can help you stay energized, focused, and in a good mood, explains Lisa McDermott, RD, CDCES, a diabetes specialist with the Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health Network.
According to the American Diabetes Association , proper medication, effective meal planning, regular exercise, and regular blood sugar checks can all help you keep your levels within a healthy range. The ADA recommends blood glucose stay within 80 to 130 milligrams per deciliter before meals and below 180 mg/dL two hours after the start of a meal. Furthermore, the organization recommends getting an A1C test, which measures your average blood glucose over the past two to three months, at least twice per year if your levels are stable and you are meeting treatment goals.
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Who Should Monitor Blood Sugar Levels
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, monitoring your blood sugar regularly will help you understand how medication like insulin, food, and physical activity affect your blood glucose. It also allows you to catch rising blood sugar levels early. It is the most important thing you can do to prevent complications from diabetes such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation.
Other people who may benefit from checking their blood glucose regularly include those:
- Taking insulin
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How Do I Treat Low Blood Glucose
If you begin to feel one or more symptoms of low blood glucose, check your blood glucose level. If your blood glucose level is below your target or less than 70 mg/dL, follow these steps
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Your Diabetes Devices And Hypoglycemia
Several insulin pumps are now available that make managing blood sugar levels easier, particularly when connected to a glucose meter or a CGM.
Some of the most important advantages of CGM devices are the improved insulin control and the ability to detect trends and lows early. With improved technology, it is now possible for parents to track blood sugar trends in their kids even when they are hundreds of miles apart .
In addition, automated insulin delivery systems, also known an artificial pancreas or a hybrid closed-loop system, will automatically adjust insulin to match your bodys need to help you spend more time in your target range.
Resources that provide people with T1D and their families with more detailed information about pumps and CGM devices are available through JDRF here. For people looking for a deeper understanding of technology that helps people with T1D better manage their blood sugar, JDRF resources are available here.
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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Causes Of Getting Blood Sugar Levels 250
After eating, the intake of carbohydrates we take with foodincreases the levels of glucose in our bloodstream. So, there is a peak ofhyperglycemia after we eat.
In normal people, the body increases the levels ofinsulin in order to neutralize the increased glucose levels.
In diabeticpeople, this compensatory mechanism does not work properly, due to the improperproduction of insulin, or to the decreased response of the cells towardsinsulin, or both.
So, glucose builds up in the bloodstream causinghyperglycemia.
What Is The Somogyi Effect
A second possible cause of high blood sugar levels in the morning is the Somogyi effect, sometimes also called rebound hyperglycemia. It was named after the doctor who first wrote about it.
If your blood sugar drops too low in the middle of the night while you are sleeping, your body will release hormones in an attempt to rescue you from the dangerously low blood sugar. The hormones do this by prompting your liver to release stored glucose in larger amounts than usual. But this system isnt perfect in a person with diabetes, so the liver releases more sugar than needed which leads to a high blood sugar level in the morning. This is the Somogyi effect.
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How To Recognize Hypoglycemia
The first signs of hypoglycemia include feeling sweaty, shaky, and hungry. However, not everyone has these symptoms or notices them in time to prevent low blood sugar from getting worse. Its also important to know that your symptoms of hypoglycemia will change the longer you have T1D.
As hypoglycemia gets worse, symptoms can include:
- Feeling weak
- Having difficulty walking or seeing clearly
- Acting strange or getting disoriented
- Having seizures
Severe hypoglycemia may make you faint or pass out. This is dangerous if you are driving, climbing stairs, or doing other activities where you need to stay aware of things around you.
Hypoglycemia can happen at night. If it does, you are likely to wake up, but its important not to rely on your body to wake you up. A continuous glucose monitor, or CGM, can alert you and those around you with an alarm to let you know if your blood sugar starts getting low while you are sleeping.
Its a good idea to check your blood sugar often when lows are likely, such as in hot weather or when you travel. Your CGM can also let you know when your blood sugar is getting lower.
Watch out for hypoglycemia unawareness.
You might not have early warning signs of low blood sugar. This is called hypoglycemia unawareness, and it raises the risk of having severe lows. It is more likely if:
- You have had diabetes longer than 5 or 10 years
- You have frequent episodes of hypoglycemia
- You take certain medicines, such as beta blockers for high blood pressure
Keeping Blood Sugar Under Control
Its not enough for those with diabetes to faithfully take glucose readings.
A person with diabetes , even when theyre not hungry, should not go long periods without eating.
Snack items should include fruit, nuts, salads and other foods with limited processing.
For many years Lucille Hughes has worked as a certified diabetes educator for inpatient acute care, home care, private endocrinology practice and outpatient diabetes education centers.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. Shes also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.
Top image: Shutterstock/ Hdc Photo
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Examples Of Appropriate Snacks May Be:
- 6 saltine crackers
- 1 slice toast and 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup milk
The food eaten for a reaction need not be subtracted from a meal plan.
Obtain a blood sugar when symptoms occur if you are able. If symptoms are severe, treat the reaction first and then obtain a blood sugar. Do not drive nor operate equipment if you feel your blood sugar is low.
If your blood sugar drops low enough for you to become unconscious, you must be taken to the hospital and/or treated with glucagon.
Glucagon is a hormone that causes the blood sugar to rise. It can only be given by injection. It is used to treat a low blood sugar if a person becomes semi-conscious or unconscious due to a severe low blood sugar. Please ask your nurse for instruction on glucagon. Your doctor will need to write a prescription for glucagon so you can have it available at home.
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.
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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.