What You Should Know About High Blood Sugar
Hyperglycermia is the medical word for high blood sugar. High blood sugar can occur either slowly or quickly. When your blood sugar goes up and stays high, it means that your diabetes is out of control.
If your blood sugar gets too high, you may have one of more of the following symptoms:
- increased thirst
- increased hunger
- frequent need to urinate
- dry itchy skin
- tired or sleepy feeling
- blurry vision
- feeling sick to your stomach
- breathing problems
High blood sugar can happen for many reasons:
- not taking your medicine as prescribed
- expired insulin (insulin that is too old or was not stored properly)
- getting sick or having other kinds of stress (physical or emotional)
- eating too much (especially carbohydrates)
- not getting your normal activity or exercise
- taking steroids or other medicines which can affect your blood sugar
What To Do
Check your blood sugar anytime you think it may be too high.
If your blood sugar is higher than normal, but you feel well:
- take your usual medicines at the usual times
- move more, even if it's around your house or at work
- drink several glasses of water or sugar-free liquids (without caffeine)
- eat your regularly planned meals
- check and record your blood sugar every four hours until it is back to normal
If you have type 1 diabetes, also check your urine for ketones every four hours and record the results until back to normal.
You should call your health care provider if:
- you are vomiting, confused, sleepy, short of breath or feel dehydrated
- your blood sugar stays above 180 mg/dl for more than one week
- you have two consecutive readings of more than 300 mg/dl
- your urine shows moderate or large amounts of ketones
What You Should Know About Low Blood Sugar
Hypoglycemia is the medical word for low blood sugar. When the amount of sugar in your blood becomes too low, your body cannot work the way it should. Most people with diabetes don’t feel well if their blood sugar drops below 70 mg/dl.
Low blood sugar occurs most often in people who are taking certain pills or insulin for their diabetes. If you are managing your blood sugar through diet and exercise, it is unlikely that you will develop low blood sugar.
If your blood sugar begins to fall too low, you may have one or more of the following symptoms or feelings:
- shaky or weak
- a fast heart beat (palpitations)
- a headache
- tingly around the mouth
You might have other symptoms or feelings besides those listed above. Some pills may hide symptoms of low blood sugar. Ask your health care provider if you are taking one of those medicines. Talk with your health care provider about how to prevent low blood sugar.
Some causes of low blood sugar are:
- skipping or not finishing meals or snacks
- taking too much medication/insulin
- eating meals or snacks at different times
- taking medication at different times
- getting more exercise than usual
- drinking alcohol
What To Do
If you think your blood sugar is too low, CHECK YOUR BLOOD SUGAR RIGHT AWAY. If you don’t feel well enough to check, assume your blood sugar is too low.
If your blood sugar is low (less than 70) eat or drink a quick-acting source of carbohydrate:
- *two - four glucose tablets
- *tube of glucose gel
- 1/2 cup of fruit juice
- 1/2 cup regular soda
- one cup of skim milk
- small box of raisins
- six - seven hard candies
*Taking glucose is the preferred treatment for hypoglycemia.
Check your blood sugar again in 15 minutes. If your blood sugar is still too low (less than 70) eat or drink a quick-acting source of glucose again and recheck your blood sugar in 15 minutes.
Call your medical provider or 9-1-1 if:
- You still don’t feel well and aren’t sure what to do.
- You begin to feel worse at any time.
Some people have a prescription for glucagon, an emergency injection given to people with very low blood sugar. Ask your medical provider if you should carry this with you.
After successfully treating your low blood sugar, if your next meal is more than one hour away, have one of the following:
- a glass of milk
- cheese with some crackers
- half a sandwich
“When my doctor first told me I had diabetes, I knew I had a lot of information to learn. So much has changed since my mother had diabetes. I helped to take care of her at the end of her life and I saw her lose so much. Her vision first, and even, eventually, her leg.
“I went to see a diabetes educator and I took a course with some other people about staying healthy. I thought the diet would be the hardest—no more of my favorite foods? But that’s not true any more. I think I’m eating better meals now than I ever did. I’ve just been learning some new things about cooking and shopping, and trying some new recipes.
“I keep testing my blood and it’s pretty interesting to see how I affect my blood sugar with my own choices.
“I’ve always liked walking, so exercise is no problem. I just do it more regularly now. A friend and I are teaming up and getting out to walk on a regular basis.
“I wish my mother had all the help I’ve been getting, and all the new information. I told myself there’s no point in sitting here feeling sorry for myself. There’s a lot I can do and nobody else can do it all for me.”
Check with your medical provider for specific guidelines for you.