People with diabetes often wonder why their blood sugar can have rapid and unpredictable swings either high or low. While both extremes might not be beneficial in the long run, it is important to know the triggers behind these blood sugar changes in your body. Below, we have listed 7 reasons why you might have either high or low blood sugar:
1. Food and Drinks You Consume
When you eat, your blood sugar goes up as the food digests and enters the bloodstream. Simple carbohydrates and sweet foods make blood sugar rise higher and faster than complex carbs, proteins and fats.
What you drink is important as well. For instance, caffeine drinks exaggerates the body's response to carbohydrates, causing blood sugar to rise more than it normally would. Not to mention that many people with diabetes reach for diet drinks as a substitute for regular soda or juice because they assume that 'sugar-free' beverages won't raise their blood sugar. This assumption is wrong, however. According to a study, artificial sweeteners may not be completely neutral after all, as proven when blood sugar peaked at higher levels than when drinking plain water.
To regulate your blood glucose, proper hydration should be a top priority. When you're dehydrated, your body produces a hormone called vasopressin, causing your kidneys to retain water and also prompts your liver to produce blood sugar, which may lead to elevated blood-glucose levels. Over time, this effect may lead to insulin resistance. It may eventually lead to chronic hyperglycemia, or high blood glucose. Along with possibly helping control your blood-glucose levels, staying hydrated helps your body distribute nutrients, eliminate waste and regulate body temperature.
3. Medications You Take
Your diabetes medications work to lower your blood sugar. Some kinds of medications can lower it too much sometimes, resulting in hypoglycemia. If the diabetes medication that you're taking isn't lowering your blood glucose effectively, your blood sugar can get too high or mainly known as hyperglycemia.
The prescription and over-the-counter medications to treat health problems besides diabetes can also mess with blood sugar levels. One of the examples is steroids (used to treat inflammatory conditions, autoimmune disorders, and asthma), which can cause blood sugar to shoot up dramatically. Birth control pills, certain antidepressants and antipsychotics, some diuretics, and nasal decongestants may also cause higher-than-normal readings. While other drugs can decrease blood sugar or interfere with your ability to recognize signs of low blood sugar.
To bring down your blood sugar, exercise is one of the best ways to be done as it results in an increased sensitivity to insulin. It causes your muscle cells to take up more glucose, leaving less of it to circulate in your bloodstream during and after the physical activity. Frequent, regular exercise is very important to good blood sugar control.
Hormones can play havoc with your blood sugar, especially during menstruation. If you notice that your blood sugar consistently runs high the week before your period, it may help to trim back the amount of carbohydrates you're eating during that time or squeeze in some extra exercise.
If you're not menstruating and find yourself waking up to a high blood sugar reading, this might occur as your body preps for waking up by releasing growth and other hormones around 3 or 4 a.m. These hormones make the body less sensitive to insulin and can contribute to a morning blood sugar spike. Alternatively, you may start the day with a low glucose level if, for example, you're taking too much insulin or medication at night or not eating enough in the evening.
6. Not Getting Enough Sleep
Restless nights affect more than your mood and energy; they may also spell trouble for your blood sugar. While sleep is a method for your body to restore itself, not getting enough sleep is a form of chronic stress on the body. Therefore, any time you have added stress, you're going to have higher blood sugar levels. Getting into a consistent sleep routine will improve your overall health, and you may see a subtle improvement in blood sugar as well.
Excess stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol, which can raise your blood sugar. When the body is under stress, the adrenal glands trigger the release of glucose stored in various organs, which often leads to elevated levels of glucose in the bloodstream.