Surprising Reasons For Blood Sugar Swings
Food isn’t the only thing that can affect blood sugar levels.
Managing diabetes means being prepared for unexpected blood sugar changes. Certain foods and drinks are often to blame, but not always. Seemingly simple facts of everyday life can sometimes kick your sugar out of whack, too.
Stress. When you’re under stress, certain hormones send nutrients, including sugar, into the bloodstream to prepare your body for action. For people with diabetes, that stress response can equal a spike in blood sugar. It can also trigger poor eating habits, whether it’s eating too little or eating too much.
Do you suspect stress raises your blood sugar? Every time you check your sugar for the next 2 weeks, rate your stress on a scale from one to 10 and write down both your rating and your blood sugar. If you see a connection between the two, it’s time to manage your stress.
“Find some time that’s just yours. Take a walk, ride a bike, or take regular breaks to unwind,” says Linda M. Siminerio, RN, PhD, CDE. She’s the director of the University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute.
Sick Days. Cold, flu, or any infection is a physical stress that can hike blood sugar just like mental stress. To top it off, the sugar and alcohol in some cold medicines can boost blood sugar, while the illness itself can kill your appetite and bring your levels down.
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What Should My Blood Sugar Level Be 4 Hours After Eating
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Normal and diabetic blood sugar ranges
|BLOOD SUGAR CHART|
|Below 7.8 mmol/l Below 140 mg/dl||7.8 to 11.0 mmol/l 140 to 199 mg/dl|
What is a normal blood sugar level 1 hour after eating?
Normal blood sugar levels are less than 100 mg/dL after not eating for at least eight hours. And theyâre less than 140 mg/dL two hours after eating.
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Normal Blood Sugar Levels In Children
Younger than 6 years old mg/dL
Adults who are 20 years or older will have blood sugar levels that range between less than 100-180 mg/dL over the course of a day. When you wake up in the morning, your fasting blood sugar should be at its lowest because you havent consumed food for about eight hours. If youre an adult and struggling with glucose control, your healthcare provider can help you develop a treatment plan to manage your blood sugar better.
Blood glucose levels outside the ranges listed above are categorized as either high or low blood sugar. Blood sugar levels are considered high if theyre over 130 mg/dL before a meal or 180 mg/dL within one to two hours after a meal. Many people wont start to experience symptoms from high blood sugar until their levels are at 250 mg/dL or higher. The highest blood sugar level thats considered safe will depend on the person and whether they have diabetes, but will typically be between 160 to 240 mg/dL.
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Being Extra Thirsty And Having To Urinate More Than Usual
This is a common but not-so-obvious sign of blood sugar that is too high: feeling really thirsty and needing to drink more than usual. Excessive urination, known as polyuria, occurs when glucose builds up in your blood, and your kidneys begin working harder to get rid of the extra glucose, says Zanini. If your kidneys cant keep up and adjust blood sugar so that it returns to a normal level, the excess sugar is flushed out of your body through urine, she adds. You may become dehydrated and get dizzy.
Blood Sugar Level Immediately After Eating:
Blood sugar level changes rapidly according to the intake of the meal. The normal blood sugar level before eating or during fasting is between 3.5 to 6.1 mmol/L.
Normal blood sugar right after eating rises drastically as the digestive tract acts quickly to digest the food through mechanical actions, digestive enzymes and different hormones. So the blood glucose rises sharply during this time. The rate at which the blood sugar rises depends on the type of food, the amount is taken, the metabolic condition of the individual, etc.
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Symptoms Of High Blood Sugar :
- Feeling fatigued and sleepy, especially after meals
- Poor brain function and focus
- Increased thirst
- Dry mouth
- Weight fluctuations
But what does it mean if you eat something clearly unhealthy, like a candy bar or burger, and your blood sugar does not elevate over the 120 mg/dL mark?
This means your body is adapting to the rise in blood sugar very well!
This is a good thing. You have a very healthy body. However, if you continue to eat processed foods high in starch and sugars, over time your body will slowly lose this ability to adapt. This is not a good practice.
Want to know some foods that commonly convert quickly to sugar and cause a rapid high spike in blood sugar?
- White foods: white rice, white potato, all forms of sugar
- Refined grains: bread, pasta, crackers, baked goods, cereals, chips
- Candy and sweets
- Soda, juice, sweetened drinks
Consumption of processed sugar increases your risk for many chronic diseases including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease .
If your blood sugar is too high, or if youre simply experiencing some of the symptoms of high blood sugar after eating, the best thing you can do is to exercise. Exercise clears sugar from the blood so that it can be used as a fuel source for your muscles.
If your test results are consistently outside the healthy range, heres what you do:
Need a blood test to check your blood sugar related biomarkers? if you are in the US, to order your own blood test.
Do You Ignore Your Mental Health
Mental health care should be a part of your diabetes care plan. Depression or stress can affect your blood sugar in several ways. For one thing, you may not remember to take your medicine, Moreno says.
Stress hormones also prep your body for action. When stressful situations pop up, your body sends out extra energy so you can fight or run. It says ‘lets get all of our resources together here,’ and that means sugar, Morton says.
You cant get rid of stress. But you can learn to handle it better. If youre not sure where to start, ask your doctor to refer you to a mental health counselor.
Some do-it-yourself techniques Morton suggests include:
- Learn yoga.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Diabetes
If you feel that you have been experiencing some of the below-mentioned symptoms, then there is a possibility that you may have diabetes. If so, we recommend you consult your doctor and get diagnosed at the earliest.
- You urinate a lot, especially at night.
- You feel thirsty a lot.
- You feel numbness and tingling sensations in your hands or feet from time to time.
- You lose weight frequently without really trying to lose it.
- You suffer from blurry vision.
- You suffer from infections frequently.
- You feel hungry more often.
- You quickly get tired and worn out.
- You have dehydrated skin.
- You suffer from sores that take more than usual time to heal.
People with type 1 diabetes also suffer from vomiting, abdominal pain, and nausea. Usually, Type 1 diabetes starts developing at a young age, but it can also happen at the lateral stage. People with type 2 diabetes are hard to diagnose because the symptoms are difficult to spot. Moreover, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes take years to develop. Type 2 diabetes is more likely to develop in adults, but children can also develop it in some cases. So, you must be wondering what is normal and diabetes blood sugar after eating? Keep reading to find more about normal and diabetes blood sugar.
Know Your Blood Sugar
Blood sugar is the amount of sugar in your blood at a given time. It’s important to check your blood sugar level, because it will:
- determine if you have a high or low blood sugar level at a given time
- show you how your lifestyle and medication affect your blood sugar levels
- help you and your diabetes health-care team make lifestyle and medication changes to improve your blood sugar levels
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Checking Your Blood Glucose Levels Will Help You To:
- Develop confidence in looking after your diabetes.
- Better understand the relationship between your blood glucose levels and the exercise you do, the food you eat and other lifestyle influences such as travel, stress and illness.
- Know how your lifestyle choices and medication, if used, are making a difference.
- Find out immediately if your blood glucose levels are too high or too low , helping you to make important decisions such as eating before exercise, treating a hypo or seeking medical advice if sick.
- Know when to seek the advice of your diabetes health team about adjusting your insulin, tablets, meal or snack planning when blood glucose goals are not being met.
Make A Note Of Your Readings
It may sound obvious, but you must record your readings. Note them down in a diary, a notebook or in your phone calendar. Some meters have software that lets you do this. You could try a diabetes app too.
You and your healthcare team can then look back over your results to see if you need to adjust your treatment.
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Several Factors May Cause A Persons Postprandial Blood Sugar To Remain Elevated
Smoking after the meal: Studies show that smoking raises blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Extreme stress: Stress produces the bodys fight-or-flight response triggering the release of stress hormones such as cortisol. These hormones cause the body to release the glucose it has previously stored for energy. Eating or drinking after the meal and before testing the blood sugar: Continuing to eat will keep blood sugars closer to their immediate post-meal levels.
Studies show that 15 to 20 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, shortly after a meal may improve glucose metabolism and reduce postprandial glucose levels.
Times To Check More Often
There will be times when you need to check more often, however you should first discuss this with your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator. Example of these times include when you are:
- Being more physically active or less physically active
- Sick or stressed
- Experiencing changes in routine or eating habits, e.g. travelling
- Changing or adjusting your insulin or medication
- Experiencing symptoms of hypoglycaemia
- Experiencing night sweats or morning headaches
- A female planning pregnancy or are pregnant.
- Pre/post minor surgical day procedures
- Post dental procedures
Your Credentialled Diabetes Educator can help you work out self-monitoring approach especially for you.
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Why Do You Get Different Blood Sugar Readings On Different Fingers
Contamination of the fingers is a common culprit in blood sugar reading variability. Thats because it only takes a little bit of food residue on your hands to impact blood glucose levels. To ensure this doesnt sway the results, wash both hands thoroughly before testing. And dont rely on alcohol swabs.
What If I Have Severe Low Blood Glucose And Cant Treat Myself
Glucagona hormone that raises blood glucose levelsis the best way to treat severely low blood glucose. Available as an injection or a nasal spray, glucagon will quickly raise your blood glucose level. Your doctor can prescribe you a glucagon kit for use in case of an emergency.
If your blood glucose level drops very low, you wont be able to treat it by yourself. Be prepared to address severely low blood glucose by
- talking with your doctor or health care team about when and how to use a glucagon emergency kit. If you have an emergency kit, regularly check the date on the package to make sure it hasnt expired.
- teaching your family, friends, and coworkers when and how to give you glucagon. Tell them to call 911 right away after giving you glucagon or if you dont have a glucagon emergency kit with you.
- wearing a medical alert identification bracelet or pendant. A medical alert ID tells other people that you have diabetes and need care right away. Getting prompt care can help prevent the serious problems that low blood glucose levels can cause.
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Blood Sugar Measurement & Goals
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. But the best way to measure post-meal patterns is by using a continuous glucose monitor . These systems, available from Medtronic, Dexcom, Abbott and Senseonics, provide glucose readings every couple of minutes so you wont miss the peak, whenever it happens to occur.
So exactly how high is TOO High? There is no universal answer. The American Diabetes Association recommends keeping blood sugar below 180 mg/dl 1-2 hours after eating. However, no specific guidelines are provided for type-1 vs. type-2 diabetes, insulin users vs. non-insulin users, or children vs. adults.
Based on my experience, I usually recommend the following:
Post-meal readings that are consistently above these levels should be addressed by you and your healthcare team .
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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Low Blood Sugar Chart And Action Plan
Low blood sugar is also called hypoglycemia. The numbers below represent values in the hypoglycemic range and require action to bring blood sugar levels up into a normal range.
|Alert Level and Treatment Plan|
|50 mg/dL or under||Red Flag: Blood sugar is critically low and requires immediate treatment.|
If a person is unable to speak and/or is not alert, treat with glucagon via injection or nasal spray. Call emergency medical response if necessary. Do not place food or drink into the mouth.
If a person is alert and able to speak clearly, treat with 15 grams of rapid-acting carbohydrate such as glucose gel, 4 oz regular soda, or fruit juice. Re-test blood sugar in 15 minutes and repeat as needed to bring blood sugar within range.
|51-70 mg/dL||Red Flag: Blood sugar is below normal levels and requires immediate treatment.|
Treat with 15 grams of rapid-acting carbohydrate and re-test in 15 minutes. Repeat treatment as needed to bring blood sugar within range.
|71-90 mg/dL||Yellow Flag: Blood sugar levels should be watched and treated as needed.|
If youre having symptoms of low blood sugar, treat with 15 grams of rapid-acting carbohydrate and re-test in 15 minutes.
Repeat treatment or follow with a meal. If it is meal time, move forward with eating the meal. People often fall into this range when they are late for a meal or have been especially active.
The Best Time To Check Blood Glucose After A Meal
Most of the food you consume will be digested and raises blood glucose in one to two hours. To capture the peak level of your blood glucose, it is best to test one to two hours after you start eating.
Q: I was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Should I check my blood glucose two hours from when I start eating or after I finish eating my meal?
A: Most of the food you consume will be digested and raises blood glucose in one to two hours. To capture the peak level of your blood glucose, it is best to test one to two hours after you start eating.
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The American Diabetes Association recommends a target of below 180 mg/dl two hours after a meal. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recommends a lower target: below 140 mg/dl two hours after a meal.
Ask your doctor which target is right for you. Postmeal blood glucose monitoring is important because it helps you see how your body responds to carbohydrates in general and particular foods. Managing postmeal blood glucose can help reduce your risk of developing heart and circulation problems.
Virginia Zamudio Lange, a member of Diabetic Living’s editorial advisory board, is a founding partner of Alamo Diabetes Team, LLP in San Antonio.
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Normal Blood Sugar 1 2 Hours After Eating
Insulin, hormone produced in the pancreas, is responsible to regulate your normal blood glucose. After eating , pancreas releases more insulin to help glucose to enter the bodys cells. As a result, the level of glucose in the blood backs to normal.
The high insulin in the blood is also a signal when the liver converts excess glucose to become glycogen. When the body is lack of glucose in the blood , glycogen is converted back to glucose and released into bloodstream.
How To Stay In Target
Eating healthy, exercising and taking medication, if necessary, will help you keep your blood sugar levels within their target range. Target ranges for blood sugar can vary depending on your age, medical condition and other risk factors.
Targets are different for pregnant women, older adults and children 12 years of age and under.
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