High Blood Sugar Levels
If you have diabetes, you can find out if your blood sugar level is high by having a blood sugar test.
You may have regular tests by your care team or GP surgery, or you may have tests you can do at home.
|Type of test||High level|
|Test done by a health professional to check your blood sugar level over the last 2 or 3 months||48 mmol/mol or over|
|Test done by a health professional after not eating for a few hours||Over 7 mmol/L|
|Home test done after waking up or before eating||Over 7 mmol/L|
|Home test done at any other time||Over 11 mmol/L|
How Can I Check My Blood Sugar
Use a blood sugar meter or a continuous glucose monitor to check your blood sugar. A blood sugar meter measures the amount of sugar in a small sample of blood, usually from your fingertip. A CGM uses a sensor inserted under the skin to measure your blood sugar every few minutes. If you use a CGM, youll still need to test daily with a blood sugar meter to make sure your CGM readings are accurate.
What Else Can I Do To Help Manage My Blood Sugar Levels
Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular physical activity can all help. Other tips include:
- Keep track of your blood sugar levels to see what makes them go up or down.
- Eat at regular times, and dont skip meals.
- Choose foods lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt.
- Track your food, drink, and physical activity.
- Drink water instead of juice or soda.
- Limit alcoholic drinks.
- For a sweet treat, choose fruit.
- Control your food portions .
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How Can I Treat High Blood Sugar
Talk to your doctor about how to keep your blood sugar levels within your target range. Your doctor may suggest the following:
- Be more active. Regular exercise can help keep your blood sugar levels on track. Important: dont exercise if ketones are present in your urine. This can make your blood sugar go even higher.
- Take medicine as instructed. If your blood sugar is often high, your doctor may change how much medicine you take or when you take it.
- Follow your diabetes meal plan. Ask your doctor or dietitian for help if youre having trouble sticking to it.
- Check your blood sugar as directed by your doctor. Check more often if youre sick or if youre concerned about high or low blood sugar.
- Talk to your doctor about adjusting how much insulin you take and what types of insulin to use.
What High Blood Sugar Feels Like
The symptoms can include:
- Breath that smells like fruit
These are symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis . Your body burns glucose for energy. When your cells donât get enough of it, they burn fat. That produces chemicals called ketones. When these build up, your blood becomes more acid-like. This can be life-threatening if itâs not treated.
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Tips For Avoiding High And Low Blood Sugars
Walking the tightrope of a life with diabetes is not easy.
We need to strive every day to make sure that we dont let our blood sugars go too high or too low, and that can be exhausting.
Here are some strategies to help keep your blood sugar in balance:
- Eat similar foods and meals that have predictable carbohydrate counts
- Cook food at home, so you know all of the ingredients in your meal
- Keep to a routine, and eat at the same times every day
- Get enough sleep!
- Double-check your insulin doses to make sure youre not taking too much, nor too little
- If youve counted carbohydrates for a meal and dosed insulin for those carbohydrates, eat everything
How Can I Measure My Blood Sugar Levels
You can measure your blood glucose levels with a glucometer. First, you prick your finger with a small device called a lancet to get a drop of blood. Your blood goes on a test strip which you put into the glucometer. Then, the device tells you your blood sugar levels.
You can also use a continuous glucose monitoring device, which uses a sensor that’s placed under your skin to automatically check your levels every few minutes.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Diabetic Coma
The following symptoms are your bodys warning signs that your blood sugar is too high or too low.
Whenever you have these symptoms, check your blood sugar. If it is too high or too low, treat it according to your healthcare providers instructions to prevent a diabetic coma. If you have had diabetes for a long time, you may fall into a coma without showing any of the symptoms.
Some symptoms of hyperglycemia are:
- Taking too much insulin.
How To Control Blood Sugar Atural
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How Do Carbs Affect Blood Sugar
Carbs in food make your blood sugar levels go higher after you eat them than when you eat proteins or fats. You can still eat carbs if you have diabetes. The amount you can have and stay in your target blood sugar range depends on your age, weight, activity level, and other factors. Counting carbs in foods and drinks is an important tool for managing blood sugar levels. Make sure to talk to your health care team about the best carb goals for you.
What Is A Diabetic Coma
Diabetic coma is a life-threatening emergency that can happen to you if you have diabetes. In a diabetic coma, youre unconscious and unable to respond to your environment. Youre either suffering from high blood glucose or low blood glucose . You need immediate medical attention if you go into a diabetic coma.
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Can Drinking A Lot Of Water Lower Your Blood Sugar Levels
Although feeling very thirsty is a symptom of a hyper, drinking a lot of water will not bring your blood sugar levels down. It will only help to reduce your risk of dehydration.
Its important that you take your diabetes medication to bring your blood sugar levels down. If you have consistently high blood sugar levels, you will need to follow the advice below and speak to your diabetes healthcare team.
Test Before You Eat And Two Hours After
This will tell you how well your medication is controlling your blood sugar. It will also shed light on what food is boosting your sugar too highand thus should be avoided. You should consult your health-care provider to develop a plan that works for you, says Donna Rice, immediate past president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, who notes that the frequency and time of day you test will depend on how controlled your blood glucose is.
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When Is Blood Sugar Considered To Be Too High Or Too Low
Slight fluctuations in blood sugar levels are completely normal, and also happen every day in people who dont have diabetes, in response to the food they eat. Between around 60 and 140 milligrams of sugar per deciliter of blood is considered to be healthy. This is equivalent to a blood sugar concentration of between 3.3 and 7.8 mmol/l. Millimoles per liter is the unit that blood sugar is measured in. It describes the amount of a certain substance per liter.
If someone has readings over 7.8 mmol/l , they are considered to have hyperglycemia. These high blood sugar levels mainly occur if there isn’t enough insulin or the insulin doesn’t work properly. Without the effect of insulin, the organs can’t make good use of the sugar in the blood, so the sugar builds up. If type 1 diabetes is left untreated, blood sugar levels can increase to over 27.8 mmol/l . Such high levels tend to be uncommon in type 2 diabetes.
Blood sugar levels below 3.3 mmol/l are considered to be too low. But, as you can see in the illustration below, there are no clear-cut borders between normal blood sugar levels and too high or too low blood sugar levels.
Blood sugar: Normal range between hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia
Diabetic Coma From High Blood Sugar
A diabetic coma from high blood sugar is a very specific condition. The medical name for this condition is Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Nonketotic Coma, or simply HONK. I have treated hundreds of patients hospitalized with diabetic comas from high blood sugar over the last 15 years. I have written this article based on my personal experience as well as a thorough review of medical literature.
In this article, I will explain these things:
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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 youre 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 nobodys perfect. Grown-ups can help you stay in balance if you have diabetes. Sometimes blood sugar levels can be high because youre growing and your doctor needs to make some changes in your diabetes treatment plan.
Target Blood Sugar Levels For Children And Adolescents With Diabetes
Age 6-12 Bedtime 100-180
Kids aged 6 to 12 should have blood sugar levels that range between 80 to 180 mg/dL over the course of a day. Blood sugar levels go up after eating a meal because the body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which is then distributed throughout the bloodstream. Other macronutrientsprotein and fatturn into glucose as well, but at a slower rate. Many people learn how to use these factors to their advantage. For example, if a childs sugar is trending low, a bedtime snack that includes something with protein and fat, like chocolate milk or peanut butter, will help raise blood sugar levels and help keep blood sugar levels steady through the night.
When you wake up in the morning, your fasting blood sugar is generally at its lowest because you havent consumed food for about eight hours. However, many people experience an increase in blood sugar levels in the early morning hours. If youre an adult and struggling with glucose control, your healthcare provider can help you develop a treatment plan to manage your blood sugar better.
Blood glucose levels outside the ranges listed above are categorized as either high or low blood sugar. For example, according to this chart, blood sugar levels are considered high if theyre over 130 mg/dL before a meal or 180 mg/dL within one to two hours after a meal. Many people wont start to experience symptoms from high blood sugar until their levels are at 250 mg/dL or higher. .
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Treating And Managing Hyperglycaemia
If your blood sugar level is slightly high for a short time, emergency treatment wont be necessary. But if it continues to rise you may need to act fast to avoid developing diabetic ketoacidosis .
If your blood sugar level is 15 mmol/l or more, you should check your blood or urine for ketones. If ketones are present, it is likely that you do not have enough insulin in your body. This means you may need to increase your dose or give yourself an extra dose. Talk to your diabetes team about how to do this if you are unsure.
You should also try to drink plenty of sugar-free fluids to prevent dehydration. And if you are feeling unwell, especially if you are vomiting, you should follow any sick day rules you have been given and contact your diabetes healthcare team for advice.
How Much Does Blood Sugar Increase After Eating
At this time the blood sugar level can reach 7.8 mmol/L in a healthy individual.
After the half-hour mark, the blood glucose level starts to fall as the sugar is absorbed from the blood into the cells of the body.
Its important to check your normal blood sugar level 1 hour after eating. For example, if you find that your blood sugar is 160 mg/dL after the meal, this equates to 8.9 mmol/L which means your blood sugar is high. Its an indication that you may need to seek medical treatment to control your blood sugar level.
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Low Blood Sugar And Driving
Having a low blood sugar while driving could be dangerous for you and others.
You can usually still drive if youre at risk of low blood sugar. But youll need to take extra precautions to reduce the chance of this happening while driving.
You also need to tell the Driver & Vehicle Agency and your car insurance company about your condition.
For more information, see:
What Is Considered Low Blood Sugar
For the average person with diabetes, low blood sugar means anything under 80 mg/dL .
Very low blood sugars are any readings under 40 mg/dL. Anything under 40 mg/dL is considered extremely dangerous and potentially fatal.
A person is at a significantly higher risk of falling into a diabetic coma if they cannot get their blood sugar above 40 mg/dL for several hours.
If a person is experiencing a severe low, and they are unable to chew food or swallow liquids, they will require an emergency shot of Glucagon .
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Planning For Sick Days
Your body releases stress hormones when you are sick, which can cause hyperglycemia. Keep taking your insulin and other diabetes medications, even if you are throwing up. If you have ketones and your blood sugar is above 240 mg/dL, call your doctor. They might also want you to call if:
- You have diarrhea that lasts more than 6 hours
- You are throwing up
- You have a high fever or trouble breathing
- You feel very sleepy or confused
Continue checking your blood sugar levels and keep track of the results.
What Are Normal Blood Sugar Levels In Healthy Individuals
Blood sugar levels can either be normal, high, or low, depending on how much glucose someone has in their bloodstream. Glucose is a simple sugar thats present in the bloodstream at all times. Blood glucose levels can be measured at any time, for example, when someone fasts , before they eat, or after theyve eaten. A normal blood glucose level for adults, without diabetes, who havent eaten for at least eight hours is less than 100 mg/dL. A normal blood glucose level for adults, without diabetes, two hours after eating, is 90 to 110 mg/dL.
Many factors affect blood sugar levels throughout the day:
- Type of food consumed, how much, and when
- Physical activity
- Menstrual periods
An ideal blood sugar level for anyone without diabetes or prediabetes, regardless of age, in the morning should be less than 100 mg/dL. Remember, blood sugar levels can fluctuate throughout the day as a result of the factors previously mentioned.
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How High Does Your Blood Sugar Have To Be For A Diabetic Coma
Your blood sugar has to be at least than 600mg/dl to have a risk of going into HONK. The average blood sugar in people with a diabetic coma is higher than 800mg/dl. It is not uncommon to see blood sugars higher than 1000mg/dl in a diabetic coma.
When your blood sugar gets this high, it means that the balancing act of drinking water and losing water in the urine has become unbalanced. Now you are losing more water than you are taking in. When this happens, it goes downhill fast.
As your blood sugars go higher, your blood becomes thick, like syrup. This draws water from your organs. The most significant effect happens on your brain. When the thick syrupy blood draws water from your brain, your brain shrinks. This triggers a series of symptoms that eventually lead to HONK.