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.
What Causes A Low Blood Sugar Level
In people with diabetes, the main causes of a low blood sugar level are:
- the effects of medicine especially taking too much insulin, medicines called sulfonylureas , medicines called glinides , or some antiviral medicines to treat hepatitis C
- skipping or delaying a meal
- not eating enough carbohydrate foods in your last meal, such as bread, cereals, pasta, potatoes and fruit
- exercise, especially if it’s intense or unplanned
- drinking alcohol
Sometimes there’s no obvious reason why a low blood sugar level happens.
Very occasionally, it can happen in people who do not have diabetes.
You Develop Sores That Tend To Heal More Slowly Than Usual
Cuts, scrapes, bruises, and other wounds heal more slowly in the presence of uncontrolled blood sugar, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes causes nerve damage and affects circulation, especially in the lower legs and feet, which can delay healing because there isnt enough blood flow to the area. Even minor wounds are more prone to infections, which can become very serious and even result in amputations of the foot. You may notice drainage seeping onto your socks or an unpleasant smell if you develop a foot ulcer, notes the American Podiatric Medical Association.
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Youre Getting Yeast Infections More Often Than Usual
Hyperglycemia may lead you to get more frequent genital yeast infections. The culprit is often a type of yeast known as Candida albicans, per the ADA. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in females the symptoms can include: vaginal itching, redness or soreness pain during sexual intercourse pain or discomfort during urination and thick, abnormal vaginal discharge. While yeast infections are common in people who dont have diabetes, having more glucose in your blood puts you at higher risk of getting them. The yeast feeds off the glucose, and if your blood sugar is high theres more glucose in the urinary tract, explains Bandukwala. Uncircumcised men with hyperglycemia are also at risk, he says.
Were also seeing this happen a little more now with patients who take SGLT-2 inhibitors, which force the body to expel more glucose through the urine, the endocrinologist adds. The FDA has added a warning to the prescribing information for SGLT-2 inhibitors about a far more rare and potentially fatal genital condition, known as necrotizing fasciitis of the perineum, or Fourniers gangrene .
If My A1c Is Normal My Glucose Is Good
An A1C result thatâs below 5.7% is normal âs standards, but having a result below that number isnât the end of the story. Pregnancy, hemoglobin variants, anemia, liver disease, and certain medications can cause inaccurate A1C results.
Additionally, the A1C test is measuring your average glucose value over the past 3 months, but averages inherently do not capture highs and lows. So, you could have a normal average while also having abnormal glucose spikes. The A1C test should only supplement your regular blood sugar testing, not replace it completely.
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Causes Related To Diet
Processed foods and sugar
Diet and how it relates to blood glucose values can vary immensely from person to person. But, research suggests that eating processed foods can increase blood glucose.
Overeating or grazing
Itâs a common belief that snacking throughout the day will keep blood glucose levels steady. But, a 2013 study found that eating two large meals per day helped reduce blood glucose more effectively than six small meals per day. Itâs also important to keep our meals to the right proportions, as overeating can raise blood glucose levels as well.
Some research has found a connection between low water intake and a greater risk of hyperglycemia. This is most likely because less water in the body means the concentration of glucose in the blood is higher.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
Problems Associated With High Blood Sugar
Frequent high blood pressure puts patients at risk of diabetes complications that can be potentially serious. Even when blood sugar does not reach acutely dangerous levels, complications can develop over time if blood sugar is consistently above a patients target range. Serious conditions and complications associated with high blood glucose include:
- Damage to the blood vessels of the eyes
- Nerve damage in the feet and hands
- Increased risk of kidney disease
- Increased risk of heart problems like heart disease
Depending on the type of diabetes a patient has, there are two different extreme forms of hyperglycemia as well. Ketoacidosis is severe hyperglycemia that impacts people with type 1 diabetes. Ketoacidosis occurs when the body runs out of glucose and begins to use ketones, a type of toxic acid, for energy. Ketoacidosis can lead to diabetic coma or even death, and it is extremely serious. Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome is a severe form of hyperglycemia that impacts people with Type 2 diabetes. It occurs when the blood glucose level goes too high and the body tries to rid itself of the excess glucose through frequent urination. If the body becomes dehydrated enough, it can go into a coma.
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Postprandial Or Reactive Hyperglycemia
This type of hyperglycemia occurs after eating . During this type of hyperglycemia, your liver doesn’t stop sugar production, as it normally would directly after a meal, and stores glucose as glycogen . If your postprandial blood glucose level is above 180mg/dL, that’s postprandial or reactive hyperglycemia.
However, it’s not just people with diabetes who can develop hyperglycemia. Certain medications and illnesses can cause it, including beta blockers, steroids, and bulimia. This article will focus on hyperglycemia caused by diabetes.
How To Treat Someone Who’s Unconscious Or Very Sleepy
Follow these steps:
They may need to go to hospital if they’re being sick , or their blood sugar level drops again.
Tell your diabetes care team if you ever have a severe hypo that caused you to lose consciousness.
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What Are Blood Sugar Targets
A blood sugar target is the range you try to reach as much as possible. These are typical targets:
- Before a meal: 80 to 130 mg/dL.
- Two hours after the start of a meal: Less than 180 mg/dL.
Your blood sugar targets may be different depending on your age, any additional health problems you have, and other factors. Be sure to talk to your health care team about which targets are best for you.
How To Lower Blood Sugar
Its best to always talk to your doctor about what to do if a certain situation presents itself. For example, your doctor may recommend you take an additional dose of insulin to lower blood sugar. Make sure youre aware of the dose that should be taken, as well as what level it should be taken at.
While lowering blood sugar for some requires taking insulin or other medication, there are some simple things that can be done to help get blood sugar moving in the right direction.
Drinking water is a simple, effective way to help lower blood sugar. It wont get you all the way back to normal when your blood sugar level is very high, but it will usually help get it moving downward. When your body needs to get rid of extra glucose, it can dispose of it through urine. In order for this to happen, you need to be properly hydrated.
Additionally, exercising can serve as a long term proactive means of lowering average blood sugar. When you exercise, your body becomes more sensitive to insulin in your body and can pull sugar from the blood to use for energy. This is another effective way to lower your blood sugar levels naturally. Make sure that the exercise youre doing isnt too strenuous. Even going for a walk can be the exercise the body needs to use some of the excess glucose in the blood.
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Risk Factors For High Blood Sugar
Doctors do not know exactly what causes diabetes. Some factors may increase the risk, however.
Type 1 diabetes
Researchers believe certain genetic or environmental factors may make people more likely to get type 1 diabetes.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases say certain genes play a role, and other factors such as viruses and infections may have an impact.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation say that there is nothing a person can do to prevent type 1 diabetes. Eating, exercise, or other lifestyle choices will not change the outcome.
Type 1 diabetes usually begins during childhood or early adulthood, but it can happen at any age.
Type 2 diabetes
People who have high blood sugar should discuss their target levels with their doctor.
They may need regular testing to keep these within a healthy range. Each person is different and levels can vary between individuals.
To find out their blood sugar levels, the person may need to fast for 8 hours, 2 hours after a meal, or at both times.
Some people may also take a glucose tolerance test, in which they drink a sugary liquid and have a blood test after.
The American Diabetes Association recommend a pre-meal blood sugar level of 80130 milligrams per deciliter . Around 1 to 2 hours after the beginning of a meal, blood sugar should be less than 180 ml/dL.
How Can I Treat Low Blood Sugar
If youve had low blood sugar without feeling or noticing symptoms , you may need to check your blood sugar more often to see if its low and treat it. Driving with low blood sugar can be dangerous, so be sure to check your blood sugar before you get behind the wheel.
Carry supplies for treating low blood sugar with you. If you feel shaky, sweaty, or very hungry or have other symptoms, check your blood sugar. Even if you dont have symptoms but think you may have low blood sugar, check it. If your blood sugar is lower than 70 mg/dL, do one of the following immediately:
- Take four glucose tablets.
- Drink four ounces of fruit juice.
- Drink four ounces of regular soda, not diet soda.
- Eat four pieces of hard candy.
Wait for 15 minutes and then check your blood sugar again. Do one of the above treatments again until your blood sugar is 70 mg/dL or above and eat a snack if your next meal is an hour or more away. If you have problems with low blood sugar, ask your doctor if your treatment plan needs to be changed.
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Managing Your Diabetes Devices
If you are using an insulin pump, talk to your diabetes team about how to best manage hyperglycemia. In general, be sure to check your pump first. Make sure all parts are connected and working correctly. Check your bolus history and temporary basal rate. Also check your insulin to make sure it has not expired or gotten too warm.
If you use a CGM, try not to react to it too often. You might be tempted to give another dose of insulin too soon, before the first one finishes working, which is known as stacking insulin this can cause low blood sugar .
What Does High Blood Sugar Mean
Also known as hyperglycemia, high blood sugar levels commonly occur among those with diabetes. Essentially, high blood sugar means that your body isnt producing enough insulin or your body is unable to absorb insulin properly . Food choices, illness or taking an insufficient dose of glucose-lowering medication are all common contributing factors to high blood sugar levels.
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If youre interested in monitoring your glucose levels, or you would like to determine how well your diabetes is being managed, you can do so from the comfort of your own home with an at-home lab test.
LetsGetCheckeds Diabetes Test tests for HBA1c with online results in just 5 days. A high HbA1c result indicates that you have too much sugar in your blood. Once you receive your results, any questions you may have will be answered by our dedicated medical team.
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How Does High Blood Sugar Affect The Body
Monitoring your blood sugar is essential if you have diabetes. Symptoms will get worse if treatment is not provided, and serious health complications can arise as a result. The signs of high blood sugar to look for include fatigue, blurred vision, and headaches along with:
- Frequent urination and thirst: Excess sugar in the blood is passed through the kidneys and into urine. This draws more water into the urine which means more frequent urination. High glucose levels cause thirst even when you are drinking enough fluids.
- Weight loss: Elevated blood sugar levels over time can lead to unexplained weight loss as a result of cells not getting the glucose they need. As a result, they start burning fat instead.
- Numbness: High blood sugar can cause tingling and numbness in the extremities. It is important to note that this is a complication of long-term diabetes and uncontrolled blood sugar levels.
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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When Should I Check My Blood Sugar
How often you check your blood sugar depends on the type of diabetes you have and if you take any diabetes medicines.
Typical times to check your blood sugar include:
- When you first wake up, before you eat or drink anything.
- Before a meal.
- Two hours after a meal.
- At bedtime.
If you have type 1 diabetes, have type 2 diabetes and take insulin, or often have low blood sugar, your doctor may want you to check your blood sugar more often, such as before and after youre physically active.
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.
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Mild High Blood Sugar
If your blood sugar levels are consistently higher than your target range to 350 mg/dL in adults and 200 mg/dL to 240 mg/dL in children), you may have mild symptoms of high blood sugar. You may urinate more than usual if you are drinking plenty of liquids. Some people who have diabetes may not notice any symptoms when their blood sugar level is in this range. The main symptoms of high blood sugar are:
- Increased thirst.
- Increased appetite.
Young children are unable to recognize symptoms of high blood sugar. Parents need to do a home blood sugar test on their child whenever they suspect high blood sugar.
If you don’t drink enough liquids to replace the fluids lost from high blood sugar levels, you can become dehydrated. Young children can become dehydrated very quickly. Symptoms of dehydration include:
- A dry mouth and increased thirst.
- Warm, dry skin.
Causes Of High Blood Sugar
The leading causes of high blood sugar or hyperglycemia include:
Diet: Glucose comes from food, so what you are eating causes high blood sugar. Carbohydrates are the most common culprit as they are broken down into glucose very quickly in the body. High-sugar foods, high-fat foods, and processed foods also cause blood glucose spikes and should be replaced with healthier options.
Stress: When you are stressed, more stress hormones and chemicals are released, which drives blood sugar levels up too. If the stress is only temporary, this is not a serious issue, but if you experience chronic stress or an anxiety disorder, you may experience high blood sugar levels more often.
Metabolic Syndrome: These are a collection of conditions that occur at the same time and increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. High blood pressures, excess fat around the waist, and high cholesterol or triglycerides are examples of these conditions. When these occur in the body together, your risk for diabetes increases as does your blood sugar and the risk for potential complications.
Physical Inactivity: A lack of physical activity contributes to elevated blood sugar. When you are physically active each day, insulin works more efficiently, and your blood sugar can be maintained.
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