If you have diabetes, then you are probably familiar with the term “hyperglycemia” which is what occurs when your blood sugar level gets too high.
It can cause a range of symptoms, from fatigue to blurred vision and, if left untreated, it can even lead to coma or death.
In this article, we will discuss how to lower your blood sugar level immediately if it is too high.
We will also provide tips on how to prevent your blood sugar level from getting too high in the first place and foods you can eat to avoid spikes in your blood sugar level.
What is hyperglycemia?
Hyperglycemia is when your blood sugar level is too high which can happen if you have diabetes and issues with insulin.
A rise in blood sugar levels occurs when there is too much glucose, also called blood sugar, in your blood.
If your blood sugar spikes, it can be dangerous and lead to a number of medical problems.
What causes your blood sugar level to rise when you have diabetes?
Diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus, is a condition where your body does not make enough insulin, or your body has reduced insulin sensitivity.
Insulin is a hormone that helps move blood sugar into your cells to be used for energy.
When you have low insulin levels or lack sensitivity to insulin, which is also called insulin resistance, too much sugar stays in your blood and these fluctuations in blood sugar can lead to diabetes complications and medical conditions including heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
What are the symptoms of hyperglycemia?
There are numerous signs and symptoms that your body may exhibit to let you know your blood glucose levels are too high. These include:
- Extreme hunger
- Extreme thirst
- Blurred vision
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss despite eating more
- Poor wound healing (cuts, scrapes, etc.)
- Dry mouth
- Dry or itchy skin
- Tingling in feet or heels
- Erectile dysfunction
- Frequent infections
If you have any of these symptoms please seek medical attention and talk to your doctor or diabetes health care team about a diabetes management plan.
What are some ways to lower my blood sugar immediately if it is too high?
Thankfully there are a number of ways to immediately lower your blood sugar levels to the normal range when they are too high. These include:
Taking your insulin medication
If you have type 1 diabetes, your immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas and you will need daily insulin treatment.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, does not require insulin treatment although you may need it in certain cases.
Insulin treatments are the fastest way to lower your blood sugar immediately, especially rapid-acting insulin.
If you are feeling the symptoms of high blood sugar levels, such as extreme thirst, dry mouth, or fatigue, it is important to drink water right away.
Drinking water will help to rehydrate your body and lower your blood sugar levels. Water helps your kidneys rid themselves of any excess glucose by excreting it out through your urine.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you are supposed to drink 15.5 cups of water a day if you are male and 11.5 cups of water a day if you are female.
More water may also be necessary due to factors such as exercise or being in the sun for long periods of time.
Exercise is another great way to lower your blood sugar levels as it helps to move sugar from your blood into your cells where it can be used for energy.
It also helps your body to become more sensitive to insulin.
The type of exercise that is most effective in lowering blood sugar levels is aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming, or biking.
Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day to help maintain a healthy lifestyle and an average blood sugar level.
If you have not been exercising regularly, start with shorter periods of time and gradually work up to 30 minutes a day.
Strength training is also beneficial as it helps build muscle which can also help to lower blood sugar levels. Exercising can help your body lower your blood glucose level for up to 24 hours.
To get a better understanding of how much exercising lowers your blood sugar levels you can take blood sugar readings with a glucose meter before and after your workout. Exercising can also help with weight loss, which can help treat and even prevent type 2 diabetes.
Take any missed doses of medications
Take your missed medication immediately although be careful not to take it too close to when you are scheduled for another dose.
Please talk to your doctor or healthcare provider if you are uncertain about when to take the missed dose as too much of certain medicines can cause adverse reactions.
What are some ways to prevent my blood sugar from getting too high?
There are many things you can do to prevent your blood sugar levels from getting too high. These include:
Manage your stress levels
Stress can cause your blood sugar levels to rise.
When you are stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol which can lead to increased blood sugar levels.
To manage your stress and improve your mental health, you can try techniques such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
You can also try to find healthy ways to cope with stressful situations such as talking to a friend or going for a walk.
Get enough sleep
Lack of sleep can also lead to increased stress levels and cortisol production, which can, in turn, cause your blood sugar levels to rise.
It is important to get enough sleep so that your body can properly rest and manage stress levels.
Most adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep a night.
Eat a healthy diet
Eating a diet that is high in fiber, lean protein, and healthy fats can help to regulate your blood sugar levels.
Fiber helps to slow down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream while lean protein and healthy fats help to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Be aware to limit your intake of processed foods, sugary food, sugary drinks, starchy food, and high carbohydrate foods as these can cause your blood sugar levels to spike.
Counting your carbohydrate intake is also a good way to ensure you are not getting too many carbs. Examples of food to include in your diabetes diet are:
- Whole grains, legumes, and beans with high fiber including peas and lentils
- Fruits and vegetables such as berries, melons, greens, tomatoes, and Brussels sprouts
- Lean protein such as chicken, fish, cottage cheese, eggs, and tofu
- Healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil
Make sure you are taking your medications as prescribed
If you are diabetic, it is important to take your insulin or other diabetes medications as prescribed.
Missing doses or not taking enough of your medication can cause your blood sugar levels to rise.
Be sure to talk to your doctor about how much of your medication you are to take and when to take it.
Regular exercise is a great way to help regulate your blood sugar levels. As noted above, increased physical activity helps reduce your glucose levels by using it for energy.
When you exercise regularly, your body also becomes more efficient at using glucose for energy, which can help to lower your blood sugar levels to the target range.
Healthy lifestyle choices like regular exercise and a healthy diet can also help you maintain a healthy weight which can treat the symptoms of type 2 diabetes and even help prevent it.
Eat breakfast every day
Eating breakfast helps to jumpstart your metabolism and gives you energy for the day. It also helps to regulate your blood sugar levels by stabilizing them throughout the day.
Research has shown that people who eat breakfast have lower blood sugar levels than those who do not eat breakfast.
There are many things you can do to lower your blood sugar levels immediately if they are too high.
You can drink water, exercise, take any missed doses of medications, and manage your stress levels, all of which will lower your blood sugar level.
However, the best way to treat hyperglycemia is to take insulin. You can also prevent your blood sugar from getting too high in the first place by following a healthy lifestyle, eating healthy foods, and following a diabetes meal plan.
If you have any more questions about blood sugar management, it is important to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about a personalized diabetes treatment plan and how to best manage your condition.
References and Sources:
American Diabetes Association
The Journal of Nutrition
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Diabetic.org is devoted to producing expert and accurate articles and information for our readers by hiring experts, journalists, medical professionals, and our growing Diabetic.org community. We encourage you to read more about our content, editing, and fact checking methods here. This was fact checked by Jacqueline Hensler and medically reviewed by Dr. Angel Rivera.
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