How To Check Your Blood Sugar Levels
As Dr. Emanuele says, glucose monitoring can be an important tool to help you get your blood sugar under control. Typically, you would do it yourself using a glucose meter or glucometer, which analyzes a drop of blood that you draw by sticking your finger with a lancet and placing the blood on a disposable test strip that you insert into the meter. Your blood sugar goals are set by you and your doctor, but blood glucose for an adult without diabetes is below 100 mg/dl before meals and at fasting and less than 140 mg/dl two hours after a meal, notes the ADA.
Some people will check their blood sugar daily or multiple times a day, sometimes using a continuous monitor that is worn on the body particularly those who have type 1 diabetes or who have type 2 but take insulin. Yet how frequently a person should monitor their blood sugar is based on a number of factors, including but not limited to whether theyre on insulin, whether they’re taking oral medication, and how well their blood sugar is controlled and how old they are.
Meanwhile, keep an eye out for these nine key warning signs and symptoms that blood sugar is too high and talk to your doctor about whether you need to adjust your management plan.
Why Does Blood Sugar Go Up In The Morning What Is The Dawn Phenomenon
There are a few main reasons why your glucose levels may be higher in the morning. One of these is known as the dawn phenomenon.
The dawn phenomenon occurs early in the morning between 3 am and 8 am while you are still asleep. As morning approaches, the body naturally signals your liver to produce glucose, giving your body the energy it needs for the start of the day. Caused by changes in hormonal levels, the dawn phenomenon happens to all people, with or without diabetes. However, for those without diabetes, insulin levels increase and they do not experience hyperglycemia.
Another reason you may experience higher morning glucose levels is because your injected insulin wears off. If your body has insufficient insulin during the night, your glucose levels may start to rise. To combat this, you may consider trying a new basal insulin, adjusting the timing and amount of your basal dose , or changing your nighttime basal rates .
The last reason you may experience higher morning glucose levels is known as the Somogyi effect. This occurs if your glucose levels fall too low during the night, caused by too much insulin or medication. To respond, your liver produces more glucose to try to maintain your glucose levels, which may result in hyperglycemia. The Somogyi effect is not as common as the other reasons described.
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.
Page last reviewed: 08 August 2018 Next review due: 08 August 2021
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What Causes High Blood Sugar
A variety of things can trigger an increase in blood sugar level in people with diabetes, including:
- missing a dose of your diabetes medicine or taking an incorrect dose
- overtreating an episode of low blood sugar
- taking certain medicines, such as steroids
Occasional episodes of hyperglycaemia can also occur in children and young adults during growth spurts.
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 To Do When Your Blood Sugar Is High
High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, happens when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or it can’t properly use the insulin it makes. Insulin is the hormone that regulates the amount of sugar that’s in your blood. So, when your insulin isn’t doing its job, sugar builds up. Another name for hyperglycemia is diabetes.
Many factors can cause hyperglycemia, and food isn’t the only one. You could have a cold coming on, or stress from an illness or difficult situation may have temporarily boosted your blood sugar, according to the American Diabetes Foundation. Levels change throughout the day.
If you know that you have diabetes, in one of its forms, and you regularly test your blood, you will know for certain when your sugar levels are high. Physical symptoms may include frequent urination or increased thirst. If you haven’t been diagnosed with high blood sugar but experience these symptoms, discuss them with your healthcare provider.
When you’re levels are out of normal range, there are measures that you can take. Here’s a strategy for keeping your blood sugar in balance.
How To Prevent High Blood Sugar
The best way to treat high blood sugar is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Not only does this help to avoid a potential emergency, but it also reduces the likelihood of experiencing diabetic complications. Patients with diabetes can prevent high blood sugar by taking some of the following measures:
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Complications Of High Blood Sugar
Diabetes is one of the main causes of high blood sugar levels, but there are other causes that can impact your blood glucose and your risk for hyperglycemia.
Hyperglycemia is the medical term for high blood sugar levels. You can have temporary spikes in blood sugar after eating a large meal or as a result of medication side effects. Chronically elevated blood sugar levels are dangerous and common in those with diabetes. Without treatment, you run the risk of a diabetic coma.
Ketoacidosis is a condition that develops when elevated blood glucose levels go untreated. Without glucose to use for fuel, your body begins to burn fat instead and produces ketones. When there are too many ketones in the blood, it will turn acidic, which can very quickly lead to ketoacidosis, a diabetic coma, and even death.
People without diabetes can develop a similar condition known as ketosis, but they can tolerate a certain level of ketones because inulin is still effectively working.
Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome is another serious complication of high blood sugar. This is more common among individuals with type 2 diabetes and is triggered by an infection or illness.
As a result of the high blood sugar, your body tries to push out the excess glucose by passing it through your urine. Without treatment, this can result in life-threatening dehydration so prompt medical attention would be necessary.
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 You Treat Hypoglycemia
Low blood sugar levels happen when theres too little glucose left in the bloodstream to continue supplying fuel to your organs, muscles, and tissues. It most often occurs when you dont eat enough food, especially carb-containing foods, given your blood-sugar-lowering medications and physical activity levels, ONeill says. Levels can decrease gradually or suddenly.
When the amount of glucose in the bloodstream drops to too-low levels, the body reacts by releasing epinephrine, also called adrenaline or the fight or flight hormone. Epinephrine revs your heart rate and can cause sweating, shaking, anxiety, and irritability. If not enough glucose is able to reach the brain, the result may be difficulty concentrating, confused thinking, and slurred speech. In extreme cases, a lack of glucose within the brain can lead to seizures, coma, and even death, she says.
People with low glucose levels can use the ADAs 15-15 Rule, which advises people consume 15 g of carbs, wait 15 minutes, and check their levels again. If the number is still low, repeat until reaching at least 70 mg/dL.
You can find 15 g of carbs in:
- 1 slice of bread
- 1 small piece of fresh fruit
- cup of yogurt
- Three to four hard candies
- Glucose tablets as indicated on the label
- Glucose gel as indicated on the label
Once your glucose levels are back to normal, the ADA suggests going ahead and eating your next scheduled meal or snack, which will help prevent levels from dropping again.
You’re Thirsty And Moody
Did you know that thirst is one of the signs of high blood sugar? If your body starts to dehydrate due to the increased blood glucose levels in your system, it’s going to signal for you to drink more water. This can mean feeling thirsty, even if you’ve just had a full bottle of water. Along with this sudden increased thirst, those who suffer from high blood sugar often feel grumpy or irritable.
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Correcting High Blood Sugar Levels With Insulin
If you take insulin, one way to reduce blood sugar is to inject insulin.
However, be careful as insulin can take 4 hours or longer to be fully absorbed, so you need to make sure you take into account how much insulin you may already have in your body that is yet to be absorbed by the blood. Insulin that is yet to be absorbed by the blood is called active insulin.
If you decide to correct with insulin, watch you dont over correct as this can lead to hypoglycemia and can be dangerous, particularly so before bed.
Swollen Or Bleeding Gums Which Increase Your Infection Risk
Gum disease is a complication of diabetes, notes the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. It can also make diabetes harder to control, because the bodys response to infection is to release more glucose into the bloodstream, according to the ADA.
Your saliva contains glucose and the more it contains, the more there is to feed the bacteria that combine with food in your mouth to form plaque and cause gum disease. Symptoms can include red or inflamed gums at first. If they are unaddressed, they can progress to periodontitis, which can cause your gums to pull away from your teeth, the appearance of pus or ulcers, or even tooth loss, notes the Mayo Clinic. Get your blood sugar under control and see a dental professional to prevent damage to your gums and teeth.
Additional reporting by Diana Rodriguez and Andrea Peirce.
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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.
Symptoms Of High And Low Blood Sugar
Managing your blood sugar levels is essential for your energy, brain function, mood and basic functions of your body. Our nutritionists explain the symptoms of high and low blood sugar, what normal levels of blood sugar should be, and how to lower or increase your blood sugar healthily through your diet.
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When To Call For Medical Advice
It is important to note that very high blood glucose levels can be dangerous and it is important to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors of the following conditions:
- Diabetic ketoacidosis a short term complication most commonly associated with type 1 diabetes
- Hyperosmolar Hyperglycaemic State a short term complication most commonly associated with type 2 diabetes
If you are struggling to keep your blood glucose levels under control, speak to your GP or consultant who can advise you or refer you onto a diabetes education course.
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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What Happens If My Blood Glucose Level Becomes Too Low
Sometimes blood glucose levels drop below where they should be, which is called hypoglycemia. For most people with diabetes, the blood glucose level is too low when it is below 70 mg/dL.
Hypoglycemia can be life threatening and needs to be treated right away. Learn more about how to recognize and treat hypoglycemia.
What Are Normal Blood Sugar Levels And High Blood Sugar Symptoms
Difficulty in maintaining normal blood glucose/sugar levels is a persistent problem among pre-diabetics and diabetics. This is especially true among patients who have not been informed about the nature of diabetes and who simply do not understand what normal blood sugar levels are. In order to help people with diabetes maintain long-term, normal blood glucose levels, it is important to start with the basics. I will begin by answering two very important questions: “What are normal blood sugar levels?” and “What are the high blood sugar symptoms to watch out for?”
Blood glucose levels are basically just numbers which reflect the amount of sugar currently circulating in your body. To keep your body alive and functioning well, you need a certain amount of sugar in your blood. Too much or too little sugar in the body are equally dangerous and will eventually kill you if not corrected. Thankfully, our bodies have multiple, complex mechanisms in place to ensure that we always have normal blood sugar levels.
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The numbers which reflect normal blood sugar levels are:
Bruce Lim is a medical student with special interests in internal medicine and cardiology, whose passions include helping people, internet marketing and reading on health topics such as maintaining normal blood sugar levels.
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How Do I Treat Hyperglycemia
You can often lower your blood sugar level by exercising. However, if your blood sugar is above 240 mg/dl, check your urine for ketones. If you have ketones, do not exercise.
Exercising when ketones are present may make your blood sugar level go even higher. You’ll need to work with your doctor to find the safest way for you to lower your blood sugar level.
Cutting down on the amount of food you eat might also help. Work with your dietitian to make changes in your meal plan. If exercise and changes in your diet don’t work, your doctor may change the amount of your medication or insulin or possibly the timing of when you take it.
You’re Feeling Anxious And Irritable
This typically shows up as a result of changes in hormone levels within your body which the extra glucose in your body can cause.
Low serotonin levels are often responsible for feelings like this, so if you notice yourself becoming more emotional than usual, it could also mean something is wrong with your insulin balance even though it’s not always easy to tell what these changes will lead to at first because they happen gradually over time.
People who have diabetes tend to experience mood disorders such as depression and anxiety much more frequently than those who do not and other mental health issues, including memory loss and further cognitive declines.
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Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome
This mostly affects elderly people. As glucose builds up in your blood, your body tries to get rid of it through your urine.
At first, you pee a lot. Over time, you pee less, but when you do, itâs very dark. This condition can lead to dehydration, coma, and death.
Get medical help right away if you have any of these warning signs:
- Blood sugar level over 600 mg/dL
- Extreme thirst that may later go away
- Warm, dry skin that doesnât sweat
- Fever over 101 F
- Weakness on one side of your body
- Vision loss
You can avoid many of these problems by keeping your blood sugar under control. Follow your doctorâs advice about diet and exercise, take your medicine, keep up with your doctor visits, and check your levels often.