Why Are Blood Sugar Spikes A Problem
Even though the spike is temporary, all of those spikes throughout the day can raise your HbA1c. Research has shown that for those with an A1c below 7.5%, post-meal readings actually have a greater influence on A1c than fasting blood sugars. In other words, managing pre-meal readings will only get you so far. If you want tight control, you need to pay attention to the after-meal glucose as well.
The long-term effects of postprandial hyperglycemia have been studied extensively. For those with type 1 diabetes, significant post-meal rises have been shown to produce earlier onset of kidney disease and accelerate the progression of existing eye problems . And like a dagger through the heart, post-meal hyperglycemia is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular problems. Recently, post-meal spikes and glucose variability have been associated with diminished brain function and an increased risk of dementia.
But the problems are not limited to long-term health issues. Any time blood sugars rise particularly high, even temporarily, our quality of life suffers. Energy decreases, cognitive ability falters, physical/athletic abilities become diminished, and moods become altered. And dont forget: What goes up must come down. The rapid blood sugar decline that usually follows a post-meal spike can cause false hypoglycemic symptoms.
Choose The Right Medication
Two classes of injectable hormones, GLP-1 receptor agonists 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 blunts appetite and promote the growth of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas of those with type-2. So both can contribute to better post-meal blood sugar control.
For type-2s, the choice of oral medication can also impact your after-meal control. Sulfonylureas stimulate the pancreas to secrete extra insulin throughout the day, without regard to meal timing. 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 control than sulfonylureas.
Controlled Means Different Things To Different People
Theres no one-size-fits-all recommendation for blood sugar control.
The ADA says that a reasonable goal for many nonpregnant adults is to aim for an A1C level of less than 7. Yet some patients may be given a more stringent goal by their healthcare providers, such as 6.5, if thats reachable without harmful side effects, including hypoglycemia.
On the other hand, if you are elderly, managing other health complications, or reliant on insulin, you may be given less stringent goals. It really becomes more important to just keep in the same place, says Rahil Bandukwala, DO, an endocrinologist at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California. Keeping A1C between 7.5 and 8.5 may be very reasonable for such a patient, Dr. Bandukwala adds, echoing the ADAs recommendations.
Because elderly people are more likely to have blood sugar that swings too far downward, with fewer warning signs, managing their glucose too tightly can put them at greater risk for hypoglycemia, says Bandukwala. When you have low blood sugar, youre at a higher risk for becoming dizzy and falling or passing out, notes the ADA.
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What If It Goes Untreated
Hyperglycemia can be a serious problem if you don’t treat it, so it’s important to treat as soon as you detect it. If you fail to treat hyperglycemia, a condition called ketoacidosis could occur. Ketoacidosis develops when your body doesn’t have enough insulin. Without insulin, your body can’t use glucose for fuel, so your body breaks down fats to use for energy.
When your body breaks down fats, waste products called ketones are produced. Your body cannot tolerate large amounts of ketones and will try to get rid of them through the urine. Unfortunately, the body cannot release all the ketones and they build up in your blood, which can lead to ketoacidosis.
Ketoacidosis is life-threatening and needs immediate treatment. Symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
Talk to your doctor about how to handle this condition.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of High Blood Sugar Levels
Signs of high blood sugar levels include:
- Peeing a lot: The kidneys respond by flushing out the extra glucose in urine. People with high blood sugar need to pee more often and in larger amounts.
- Drinking a lot: Someone losing so much fluid from peeing that often can get very thirsty.
- Losing weight even though your appetite has stayed the same: If there isnât enough insulin to help the body use glucose, the body breaks down muscle and stored fat instead in an attempt to provide fuel to hungry cells.
- Feeling tired: Because the body canât use glucose for energy properly, a person may feel unusually tired.
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Why They Happen And How To Try And Reduce Them If You Live With Type 1 Diabetes
Living with type 1 diabetes requires you to regularly check your blood sugar levels before you eat. However, we may not always consider what happens to our sugar levels immediately after we eat where it is very normal for people who dont have diabetes, let alone those who do, to temporarily have high sugar levels. Given that having high sugar levels can give you symptoms like thirst, tiredness and needing to go to the toilet a lot, learning about ways to try and reduce spikes in your sugar levels after meals may make a difference to your overall health and wellbeing.
What Do Sugar Headaches Feel Like
For the most part, sugar headaches feel like normal headaches. There are a few clues, however, that can help you identify if its a sugar headache or not.
- Hyperglycemia headaches, for example, dont show up right away. Usually, people hang out with high blood sugar for a few days before the body starts putting out pain signals.
- Hypoglycemia headaches appear more swiftly and are often accompanied by other fun symptoms, such as dizziness, fatigue, and nausea.
If you have recurring sugar headaches, you may want to schedule a doctors appointment. Consistently irregular blood sugar levels could be a sign of diabetes, which can be fatal if untreated.
In very rare cases, consistent sugar headaches are a sign of ketoacidosis, a complication most commonly associated with type 1 diabetes. In a nutshell ketoacidosis occurs when someone has high blood sugar and high ketone levels at the same time .
Odds are your sugar headaches are just the result of an off day of eating. If you keep an eye on your symptoms and eating habits, you should be able to kick those headaches to the curb.
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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.
What Does A Sugar Crash Feel Like
You may experience a crash after indulging in high amounts of carbohydrates, especially simple sugars such as cake and ice cream. Although the human body needs sugar, it also needs the amount of sugar to remain at a consistent level.
When the body has more sugar than its used to, it rapidly produces insulin in an attempt to keep the levels consistent. This causes blood glucose to decrease, which results in a sudden drop in energy levels, also known as hypoglycemia, or a sugar crash.
With this drastic drop in energy, the body can experience undesired symptoms such as:
Sugar crashes generally cause us to be incredibly distracted throughout the day, which leads to a lack of productivity and concentration. Confusion, abnormal behavior, the inability to complete routine tasks and blurred vision are also common symptoms, especially for those who have diabetes. People with diabetes may experience more severe symptoms such as loss of consciousness, seizures or coma, if the crash is harsh enough, because of their increased sensitivity to inconsistent sugar levels.
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The Causes Of High Blood Sugar
In general, higher than normal blood glucose levels can be caused by:
- not taking your diabetes medicine when you’re supposed to or not taking the right amounts
- eating more food than your meal plan allows
- not getting enough exercise
- having an illness, like the flu
- taking other kinds of medicines that affect how your diabetes medicines work
Keeping blood sugar levels close to normal can be hard sometimes, and nobody’s perfect. Grown-ups can help you stay in balance if you have diabetes. Sometimes blood sugar levels can be high because you’re growing and your doctor needs to make some changes in your diabetes treatment plan.
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.
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You May Get More Headaches
Most of us do get headaches from time to time. When we give up sugar, we may get even more! Sugar is a toxin and taking it out of our diets plunges us into a detox state. This means that our systems begin to adapt to the changes. One of the signals that the detox phase is happening is headaches. These may be managed with mild, over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Advil or Tylenol.
Its quite common for anyone who is detoxing from anything to get headaches. People tend to get them during cleanses or when they give up bad habits, from smoking to drinking and beyond. The headaches are generally harmless and signal positive changes in the body. However, they are painful and annoying.
You shouldnt use OTC pain relievers a lot. When we take a lot of these pain relievers, we sometimes get rebound headaches when we stop! However, they are safe choices when serious headache pain strikes. In general, headaches which are related to sugar withdrawals wont last more than a couple of weeks.
Detoxing completely will generally happen within fourteen days or so, so try to manage headache pain as best you can. If you are concerned about it, you should see your doctor. Make sure to tell him or her that youve eliminated sugar from your diet and that the headaches started afterward.
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.
Your Sleeping Patterns May Change
Sleeping patterns may be altered for the worse when sugar is eliminated. For example, you may find it harder to get to sleep and stay asleep. Insomnia is a symptom of sugar withdrawal. While its an inconvenient symptom, it should be temporary. Your body is currently recovering from the dips and spikes in energy that sugar causes. Its changing, and this will affect your energy levels. You may feel tired at different times and alert when you should be sleeping soundly.
If you need help dealing with sugar withdrawals, a natural supplement, such as Melatonin, may help you to fall asleep. While its not the best for helping people to stay asleep, it is rather effective for those who are having trouble falling asleep in the first place. Melatonin also assists with recovery from jet lag, and you may find it most places where supplements are sold.
As well, try to unplug from electronic devices which have monitors at least an hour before you go to bed. Studies have shown that using monitors shortly before bed makes brains too alert. Using devices with monitors right before bed makes it harder to fall asleep.
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.
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Choose The Right Insulin
The right insulin can make or break your ability to control those after-meal spikes. In general, insulin that works quickly and for a short period of time will work better than those that work slowly over a long period of time.
For instance, rapid-acting insulin analogs will cover the post-meal blood sugar rise much better than regular insulin. Newer ultra-rapid insulins, such as Fiasp, work even faster.
The way insulin is administered can dramatically affect its speed of action. Afrezza is an inhaled insulin that can be used at mealtimes. Because the dry powder is absorbed through the lungs, its onset and peak are much earlier than injected insulin. For those who dont mind a twinge of pain, injecting insulin into muscle will also make it absorb and act much quicker than injecting it into the fat layer below the skin.
Research has also shown that injected insulin can work much faster when the injection site is warmed by rubbing the site, immersing in warm water, or exercising the muscle near the site. Warming the site causes the blood vessels near the skin to dilate, which allows the insulin to absorb more quickly. By the way, smoking causes the blood vessels to constrict, so quitting smoking might improve your post-meal blood sugar .
Signs You May Have Hypoglycemia
Many people â even those without diabetes â exhibit signs of low blood sugar. Read on for 5 subtle signs of hypoglycemia. Feeling suddenly weak or shaky is one of the better known signs of low blood sugar, but that doesnt mean its always easy to notice. Weakness, particularly in the arms or legs, or a feeling of being jittery or trembling could also mean its time to eat. Physical symptoms arent the only signs of low blood sugar emotional instability can also occur. In fact, if you suspect you have fluctuating blood sugar, your symptoms might include things such as feeling suddenly overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, irritated, or like you could burst into tears. Find yourself breaking into a cold sweat for no reason? Low blood sugar may be to blame. The stress on your body means that it has to work harder, and a cold sweat is a classic sign that your body is having to work too hard to function. Other symptoms might be a rapid or irregular heartbeat, or even blurred vision. Hypoglycemia can bring on feelings of nausea or extreme hunger. Traditionally, eating sugar helps raise blood sugar levels, but try to eat a balanced snack or meal soon afterward, to avoid a repeat sugar crash. When blood sugar is low, it can make you a little spacey. You may find yourself rambling, or others may have a tough time following your conversation. But slurred speech or confusion are more serious signs of dangerously low blood sugar, and should not be taken lightly.Continue reading > >