Carbohydrates And Blood Sugar
When people eat a food containing carbohydrates, the digestive system breaks down the digestible ones into sugar, which enters the blood.
- As blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that prompts cells to absorb blood sugar for energy or storage.
- As cells absorb blood sugar, levels in the bloodstream begin to fall.
- When this happens, the pancreas start making glucagon, a hormone that signals the liver to start releasing stored sugar.
- This interplay of insulin and glucagon ensure that cells throughout the body, and especially in the brain, have a steady supply of blood sugar.
Carbohydrate metabolism is important in the development of type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body cant make enough insulin or cant properly use the insulin it makes.
- Type 2 diabetes usually develops gradually over a number of years, beginning when muscle and other cells stop responding to insulin. This condition, known as insulin resistance, causes blood sugar and insulin levels to stay high long after eating. Over time, the heavy demands made on the insulin-making cells wears them out, and insulin production eventually stops.
Blood Sugar Spike Symptoms
Learning to recognize the symptoms of hyperglycemia can help you keep your diabetes in control. Some people with diabetes immediately feel the symptoms of high blood sugar, but others go undiagnosed for years because their symptoms are mild or vague.
Symptoms of hyperglycemia typically begin when your blood glucose goes above 250 milligrams per deciliter . Symptoms get worse the longer you go untreated.
Symptoms of a blood sugar spike include:
- frequent urination
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Main Symptoms Of High Blood Glucose
While an individual can have no noticeable symptoms and still have high blood glucose, knowing what kinds of symptoms tend to accompany high blood glucose helps us take the right action before things get worse. If for no other reason, keeping these markers of high blood glucose in mind can help you identify it more quickly in yourself.
The most common symptoms to be aware of are:
All Carbs Are Created Equal
Phipps explains that, despite containing similar amounts of carbohydrates, one serving of pasta could have a hugely different effect on your blood glucose levels than one serving of rice. Likewise, that serving of pasta may have an entirely different effect on your blood glucose levels than your friendsâ or even family membersâ. âWeâre all unique,â Phipps says.
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ADA Guidelines on Alcohol & Blood Sugar
The American Diabetes Association does have guidelines regarding alcohol and blood sugar and how alcohol affects blood sugar. Some of their recommendations include:
- The advice when it comes to alcohol and blood sugar is no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
- If you have diabetes, you shouldnt drink when your blood sugar levels are low or you have an empty stomach.
- People with diabetes shouldnt count the calories in an alcoholic drink as a carbohydrate choice in their meal plan.
- Certain types of alcoholic beverages may be more detrimental for people with diabetes, including heavy craft beers.
The amount of carbs and sugar varies in every alcohol, so its important to pay attention to labels and serving sizes when considering safe alcohol and blood sugar practices.
When To Get Urgent Medical Attention
Contact your diabetes care team immediately if you have a high blood sugar level and experience the following symptoms:
- feeling or being sick
- a fever for more than 24 hours
- signs of dehydration, such as a headache, dry skin and a weak, rapid heartbeat
- difficulty staying awake
These symptoms could be a sign of a more serious complication of hyperglycaemia, such as diabetic ketoacidosis or a hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state, and you may need to be looked after in hospital.
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What Is High Blood Glucose
To fully understand your blood glucose levels, itâs important to know: a) what values are actually considered high, and b) factors that can cause your elevated reading in the first place.
High blood glucose, also known as hyperglycemia, occurs when there is too much sugar in the bloodstream. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, is the result of too little glucose in the bloodstream. Hyperglycemia usually occurs because your body doesnât produce enough insulin or canât properly use the available insulin to remove the glucose from the bloodstream.
Using milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood for measurement, high blood glucose readings after a meal indicating prediabetes can fall between 140 and 199 mg/dL. Levels reaching 200 mg/dL two hours after eating indicate you may already be insulin resistant or diabetic, though that diagnosis will need to come from your doctor. By comparison, the typical standard for normal glucose readings is to remain under 140 mg/dL throughout the day and under 100 mg/dL after eight hours of fasting.
A range of lifestyle factors, habits, and health conditions can cause high blood sugar. To debunk common hyperglycemia myths, review causes and symptoms, and discuss the best ways to address them, we spoke with two experts on high blood sugar levels: registered dietitian and For The Love of Diabetes creator Lori Zanini and registered dietitian nutritionist and diabetes management expert .
How Can High Blood Sugar Levels In The Morning Be Controlled
Once you and your doctor determine how your blood sugar levels are behaving at night, he or she can advise you about the changes you need to make to better control them. Options that your doctor may discuss depend on the cause of the morning high blood sugars.
For dawn phenomenon:
- Changing the timing or type of your diabetes medications
- Eating a lighter breakfast
- Increasing your morning dose of diabetes medication
- If you take insulin, switching to an insulin pump and programming it to release additional insulin in the morning
For Somogyi effect:
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Avoiding High Blood Sugar And Dka
No matter how well they take care of themselves, people with diabetes will sometimes have high blood sugar levels. But the best way to avoid problems is to keep your blood sugar levels as close to your desired range as possible, which means following your diabetes management plan. Checking your blood sugar levels several times a day will let you know when your blood sugar level is high. Then you can treat it and help prevent DKA from happening.
High blood sugar levels don’t always cause symptoms, and a person who isn’t testing regularly might be having blood sugar levels high enough to damage the body without even realizing it. Doctors may use the HbA1c test to find out if someone has been having high blood sugar levels over time, even if the person has not had obvious symptoms.
Here are some other tips for avoiding high blood sugar levels and preventing DKA:
- Try to eat all your meals and snacks on time and not skip any.
- Take the right amount of insulin.
- Check your blood sugar levels regularly and your ketone levels when your diabetes management plan recommends it.
- Stick to your diabetes management plan.
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Medication And Supplements May Contribute To Blood Sugar Changes
Illness itself can increase blood sugar levels, but so can illness-fighting medication. A number of over-the-counter and prescription drugs even some vitamins and supplements can raise blood sugar. Examples include corticosteroids, asthma medication, birth control pills, certain antidepressants, and some medication for severe acne, Dodell says. While the exact causes arent completely clear, research suggests that changes in blood flow as well as direct effects on insulin release and receptors may explain why blood-pressure-lowering medication has the potential to spike blood sugar.
Its therefore important to let your doctor know about each and every medication you take, whether OTC or prescribed by another doctor, he says. They may be able to help you find an alternative medication that is better for your blood sugar levels or, alternatively, simply help you manage your blood sugar despite any sugar-increasing medicine.
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Easy Before Bed Routines For People With Diabetes
Managing diabetes whether you have type 1 or type 2 is a full-time job. Your condition doesnt clock out at 5 p.m. when youre ready to take a break. You have to maintain your blood sugar checks, medication, exercise, and eating habits all day to keep your disease under control.
In fact, you should be mindful of your diabetes all the way until bedtime. Before you set the alarm and settle in under the covers each night, here are a few bedtime to-dos that will help you get more control over your diabetes and sleep more soundly.
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Is It Safe To Sleep With High Blood Sugar
Glucose levels that are occasionally a little high at night generally dont pose serious, immediate health concerns. Most people with diabetes cannot avoid some high glucose levels. However, frequent or long-term highs particularly extremely high levels can be dangerous. It is important for people with diabetes to reduce high blood sugar as much as possible for two key reasons:
Frequent hyperglycemia can lead to major health complications caused by damage to blood vessels and nerves, which can affect your eyes, heart, kidneys, and other organs. This occurs when glucose levels are too high over a long period of time.
Very high glucose levels can be a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis . This occurs mainly in people with type 1 diabetes and can be life-threatening. For more information on DKA, read Ketosis vs. Ketoacidosis: Whats the Difference.
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Normal Blood Sugar Readings
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How Are High Blood Sugar Levels Treated
Treating high blood sugar levels involves fixing what caused them in the first place. Your diabetes health care team will give you specific advice on how to keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range. But here are some ways to manage the common causes of high blood sugar levels:
|Reason for High Blood Sugar Level||What to Do|
|Not getting enough insulin or other diabetes medicine|
|Not following the meal plan|
|Not getting enough exercise|
|Illness or stress|
|Use of other medicines that can increase blood sugar|
Unexpectedly High Blood Sugar Readings Can Be A Bummer
If youre living with type 2 diabetes, your doctor has probably told you time and time again that maintaining control over your blood sugar is essential.
Controlling blood sugar is important for two main reasons, says Lynn Grieger, RD, CDCES, a certified personal trainer in Prescott, Arizona, and a medical reviewer for Everyday Health. On a day-to-day basis, people just feel better when their blood sugar stays in a healthy range. Over the long term, its the best thing you can do to prevent complications of diabetes from occurring. Diabetes complications include nerve damage, kidney disease, skin conditions, eye damage, heart disease, and stroke, according to the American Diabetes Association.
One of the main and most frequently discussed contributors to high blood sugar is a diet too rich in carbohydrates, which once digested turn into sugar . Certain high-carb foods are among the most common foods that spike blood sugar, she explains.
There are some triggers of high blood sugar, however, that are out of your control or can sneak up on you. Such triggers can make it difficult to manage blood sugar levels even when you think youre doing everything right.
Here are 10 surprising yet common causes of high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia.
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How Does Smoking Affect Diabetes
Smokers are 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. Smoking can also make managing the disease and regulating insulin levels more difficult because high levels of nicotine can lessen the effectiveness of insulin, causing smokers to need more insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.
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Is Hyperglycaemia Serious
The aim of diabetes treatment is to keep blood sugar levels as near to normal as possible. But if you have diabetes, no matter how careful you are, you’re likely to experience hyperglycaemia at some point.
It’s important to be able to recognise and treat hyperglycaemia, as it can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.
Occasional mild episodes aren’t usually a cause for concern and can be treated quite easily or may return to normal on their own. However, hyperglycaemia can be potentially dangerous if blood sugar levels become very high or stay high for long periods.
Very high blood sugar levels can cause life-threatening complications, such as:
- diabetic ketoacidosis a condition caused by the body needing to break down fat as a source of energy, which can lead to a diabetic coma this tends to affect people with type 1 diabetes
- hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state severe dehydration caused by the body trying to get rid of excess sugar this tends to affect people with type 2 diabetes
Regularly having high blood sugar levels for long periods of time can result in permanent damage to parts of the body such as the eyes, nerves, kidneys and blood vessels.
If you experience hyperglycaemia regularly, speak to your doctor or diabetes care team. You may need to change your treatment or lifestyle to keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range.