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:
Why Are My Blood Sugars High In The Morning
Heres a simple plan for diagnosing the source of high blood sugars in the morning.
It takes a little bit of effort, but you probably only need to do it a few times to diagnose the issue.
The Somogyi Effect is less common than dawn phenomenon. To diagnose either of these phenomena, scientists recommend checking blood sugar levels for several nights, specifically between 3 a.m and 5 a.m.
Compare these three glucose values and find the pattern:
- If your blood sugar stayed steady overnight, but rose in the morning, you are likely experiencing dawn phenomenon.
- If your blood sugar rose steadily throughout the night, your morning glucose highs may be the result of your diet or exercise choices , or a sign that you may want to adjust your insulin and glucose-lowering medication regimen.
- If your blood sugar dipped low in the middle of the night, you may be experiencing Somogyi effect.
The best option is to use a continuous glucose monitoring system . This will give you an entire nights worth of blood sugar values, making it easy to identify what direction your blood sugar moved while you slept.
Insulin Is Low An Important Difference
Only testing fasting blood glucose without testing fasting insulin tells you very little. Thats because two people could have exactly that same fasting blood glucose levels and have very different circulating insulin levels.5
It is all about the relationship between glucose and insulin and how they work in concert. This is called the homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance or HOMA-IR. The name is a mouthful, but it simply means that the body is always trying to keep its essential systems in balance or in an equilibrium called homeostasis. Insulin is working against glucose in an attempt to keep blood sugar levels stable, a.k.a in homeostasis.6
In one individual for example someone with pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, or PCOS insulin may over time be pulsed out in higher and higher amounts just to keep the blood sugar relatively stable. While fasting blood glucose could still be in the normal range, it is taking increasing amounts of insulin to keep it there. As insulin resistance develops, and insulin becomes increasingly ineffective to bring blood sugars down, blood sugars will eventually rise too high.
In a second individual someone who has been on the keto diet for a number of months and is now burning fat for energy much lower amounts of insulin are being pulsed by the pancreas to keep the glucose stable. You have now, therefore, improved your insulin resistance and only need small amounts of insulin to keep glucose in check.
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Possible Ways To Try To Lower Fasting Levels
- Go for a walk after your evening meal exercise has a insulin type effect on the bodys cells which can impact many hours after and so may help lower fasting levels
- Eat less carbohydrates in your evening meal although remember that it is important to still eat sufficient carbohydrates to avoid ketosis, so carbs must not be completely cut from the meal
- Drink plenty of water take a glass of water to bed and have a drink when waking in the night
- Eat a bedtime snack eating a snack before bed has been the biggest success with ladies in our support group. A snack which is high in protein and natural fat is believed to work best. Start with something like a couple of oatcakes and cheese, or a Ryvita with peanut butter. If this does not impact fasting levels, then try a high protein snack without the starchy carbohydrates
- Apple cider vinegar drink 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar at bedtime with 1 oz of cheese. A small study9 in type 2 diabetic patients found that drinking 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and eating 1 oz cheese lowered fasting levels by 4%
Some ladies with gestational diabetes have had great success with apple cider vinegar and so its worth trying if you have the stomach for it!
Please note: As vinegar is acidic, it is advisable to dilute it in some water and brush teeth after consuming
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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:
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Why Does Blood Sugar Spike In The Morning
Our diabetes expert has the answer.
Joan Bardsley, RN, CDE, is an assistant vice president at MedStar Health Research Institute.
Q. Why does my blood sugar spike in the morning?
A. There are many reasons for a high reading.
First, look at food. What you ate the night before may be behind the blood sugar spike for example, if you ate much more than you usually eat, or if the amount of food was more than your medications are made to handle.
A second cause could be your medicine. Perhaps the medications you take arent lasting through the night, or the dose isnt high enough to keep your blood sugar in check.
Another possibility is one that happens naturally in the body in response to low blood sugar. When your blood sugar drops, your body releases stored sugar mainly from the liver and overcompensates. If your blood sugar level drops in the middle of the night, this overproduction of sugar can cause a high level in the morning. This is called the Somogyi effect. When your blood sugar is low, its best to eat about 15 grams of carbohydrates, and then wait 15 minutes before repeating the process.
Or, the spike could be due to the release of hormones between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. that raise blood sugar. Your body needs to balance these high hormone levels by making more insulin. When it cant make enough insulin to compensate, your blood sugar will be high. You may need to manage the timing or amount of your medicine.
Low Blood Glucose: Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia can occur when blood glucose drops below normal levels or drops too quickly. Your blood glucose level is too low if it is under 70 mg/dL.
Hypoglycemia can be caused by:
- A combination of these factors
- Being more active than usual
- Drinking alcohol
- Eating at the wrong time for the medications you take
- Skipping or not finishing meals or snacks
- Taking too much diabetes medication
You can have hypoglycemia without any symptoms. That makes it important to check your blood glucose levels regularly. When hypoglycemia does cause symptoms, they can include:
- Being sweaty
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Does Metamucil Lower Blood Why Is My Fasting Blood Sugar High Sugar
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How Can I Treat And Manage Hyperglycemia
People with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can manage hyperglycemia by eating healthy, being active, and managing stress. In addition, insulin is a critical part of managing hyperglycemia for people with type 1 diabetes, while people with type 2 diabetes may need oral medications and eventually insulin to help them manage hyperglycemia.
If you dont have diabetes and have any of the signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia, call your healthcare provider. Together you can work to manage your hyperglycemia.
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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.
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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How Many Carbs Should A Type 2 Diabetic Have In A Day
The Basics of Counting Carbs
You can use these basic tips to help manage your carb consumption: Foods that contain carbohydrates include starches, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, beans, and sweets. Most people with type 2 diabetes should stick to eating around 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal.2 2016 .
Hashimotos Fasting And Keto
I believe there is a way to reverse Hash! I feel so much better on keto and IF than any treatment over the past three years. Have you had any patients reversing Hashi with this program?
Thank you so much for all your work for all of us,Martha
Answer: I dont see Hashimotos very frequently so dont have much experience. Fasting and low carb diets usually drop insulin so are effective for diseases of excessive insulin such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and PCOS. However, it may also have a smaller effect on inflammation so it may certainly benefit Hashimotos as well, but there are no studies to prove this, and I have only limited clinical experience with Hashimotos.
Dr. Jason Fung
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Only Diabetics Get High Glucose Values
While a high glucose value can indicate diabetes, nondiabetics can also have higher values than normal. When researchers studied people wearing a continuous glucose monitor who did not have a diabetes diagnosis, they found 93% of individuals reached glucose levels that are considered dangerous, with 10% spending over 2 hours per day in these dangerous levels. Traditional glucose measurements, like a single point in time blood glucose value, are unable to capture these abnormalities.
There are actually several causes of high blood sugar unrelated to diabetes that the CDC recognizes. These include certain foods, like artificial sweeteners and coffee. Other factors like stress can do it, too. If you live with an endocrine or pancreatic condition, had surgery recently, or are experiencing intense physical stress , you may also see your glucose value rise.
Planning For Sick Days
Your body releases stress hormones when you are sick, which can cause hyperglycemia. Keep taking your insulin and other diabetes medications, even if you are throwing up. If you have ketones and your blood sugar is above 240 mg/dL, call your doctor. They might also want you to call if:
- You have diarrhea that lasts more than 6 hours
- You are throwing up
- You have a high fever or trouble breathing
- You feel very sleepy or confused
Continue checking your blood sugar levels and keep track of the results.
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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.
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.
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How Do I Prevent Hyperglycemia
- Exercise to help lower blood sugar. Work with your healthcare provider to make a daily activity plan.
- Follow your meal plan if you have one. Learn how carbohydrates impact your blood sugar, and work with your diabetes care team to find the best meal plan for you.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Dont smoke.
- Limit drinking alcohol. Alcohol can raise blood sugar levels, but can also cause dangerously low blood sugar levels. Work with your provider to determine how much is safe to drink.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/11/2020.
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Does Sugar Affect Blood Pressure?
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How Does Hyperglycemia Happen
Insulin is a hormone that lets your body use the sugar in your blood, which comes primarily from carbohydrates in the food that you eat. Hyperglycemia happens when your body has too little insulin to use the sugar in your blood.
People with type 1 diabetes can have episodes of hyperglycemia every day. Although this can be frustrating, it rarely creates a medical emergency. Not taking enough insulin can lead to hyperglycemia .
Other things that can cause hyperglycemia include:
- Having trouble seeing or concentrating
- Experiencing stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting
- Having sweet-smelling or fruity breath
- Cuts or sores that do not heal, infections, and unexplained weight loss may also be signs of long-term hyperglycemia.
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should check your blood sugar. If your blood sugar is very high, you should also test for ketones in either your blood or urine.
Signs Of High Blood Sugar
Someone who has been diagnosed with diabetes will be familiar with how it feels to have hyperglycemia. But for the millions of people who have diabetes or prediabetes and are unaware of it, knowing the signs of high blood sugar could prompt them to seek care and get a diagnosis as soon as possible.
While type 1 diabetes symptoms can come on suddenly and severely, its important to note that type 2 diabetes symptoms can creep up gradually and be so mild that theyre not noticeable, the NIDDK explains. And most people with prediabetes actually have no symptoms, per the NIDDK. So its extremely important to get screened if you have risk factors, like having a family history, being overweight, or being over age 45, the NIDDK says.
Still, there are many potential signs of high blood sugar in the short and long term that it doesnt hurt to be conscious of, especially if you are at elevated risk.
Early on, hyperglycemia can make you feel off in a variety of ways:
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