This section will cover several unsuspected causes of blood sugar spikes – and they’re not related to food or exercise at all.
However, they can sneak up on you and make some trouble…Become aware of these “special” triggers of high blood sugar.
One quick, important reminder from Part 1: Artificial sweeteners may alter your blood sugar response, so:
➡ Get in the habit of checking all food labels carefully. To help you focus on what to avoid, here’s a handy list of 21 different and hidden blood sugars in your foods.
Then there are the bad boys…
Groan…I almost hate to bring this up, but you know I can’t leave it out…
Exercise is important, make that crucial, in managing type 2 diabetes.
In addition to helping you support a healthy weight or lose excess weight, as well as lowering your risk of stroke and heart disease, physical activity increases the body’s insulin sensitivity and helps your cells remove glucose from the blood and use it for energy…instead of converting it to fat.
Learn about belly fat aka “visceral fat” here:
Inactivity can cause blood sugar levels to spike, even if you’re eating all the right foods at the right times and are taking insulin and/or oral medication.
➡ A good workout can lower your blood sugar level for 24 hours or more.
Research published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed that blood sugar levels of healthy, normally active people increased markedly after just three days of decreased activity (the participants cut their typical number of daily steps by at least half).
But, I understand that being active isn’t always possible. In that case, you need to keep an extra-close eye on your blood sugar level. If you can’t get outdoors to walk or don’t like to use a gym, here’s a way to meet your daily exercise needs:
Conversely, when increasing your physical activity, keep in mind the ADA’s recommendation that people with type 2 diabetes watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) during more intense exercise. If your blood sugar dips too low, treat it immediately.
It sneaks up on you like a thief…From it’s relationship to heart disease to Diabetes management and several other conditions in between, it’s not to be taken lightly.
You’re overextended at work, there’s a family crisis, and suddenly your blood sugar level is through the roof. Sound familiar? Stress definitely raises blood sugar levels.
➡ It increases cortisol, our fight-or-flight hormone.
➡ When cortisol levels go up, it makes us less sensitive either to our body’s own insulin or to insulin injections. This is called insulin resistance.
➡ Stress can be physical (such as being injured), or psychological, such as worry about financial issues or marriage problems.
Read about what it does to your HEART Here:
In fact, even positive changes to your daily routine — a promotion at work or going on vacation — can cause a sudden spike in blood sugar.
The best ways to de-stress and get the hormones back under control is to learn new ways to manage the stress. There are things you can do when you’re right at the moment. When tension at work suddenly makes you want to pull your hair out:
➡ Go for a five-minute walk
➡ Take 10 deep breaths to slow your breathing. These are not quick breaths. Count to at least 8 on the inhale and 8 on the exhale.
And there are regular habits you can develop, like establishing a daily exercise, Yoga or meditation routine.
Read about the benefits of Yoga for diabetics here:
When you’re sick or you have an infection, your body releases hormones to help it fight off the illness.
While that’s a good thing, there’s a drawback for people with type 2 diabetes — your blood sugar levels can climb.
➡ According to the ADA, in the most serious cases, a life-threatening coma can even result.
That’s why it’s a good idea to have a plan for sick days.
➡ It’s important to stay well hydrated and to be even more careful than usual about what you eat.
➡ If you’re severely sick, call your doctor. Sometimes it may be necessary to increase your insulin and/or diabetes medication.
The ADA suggests that you make a plan with your doctor or Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) before you become ill so that together you can decide what to do on days during that time.
Be sure to get your physician’s advice on:
➡ How often to measure your blood sugar
➡ Which medications to take
➡ Whether you should check for ketone levels in your urine
➡ And if any signs or symptoms should be seen as red flags that it’s time to call him or her.
There’s been a lot of investigations into the connection between sleep and health problems.
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), the overwhelming bulk of the research that relates to diabetes has found the same thing:
Restless nights hurt more than your mood and energy — they may also spell trouble for your blood sugar.
Not getting enough sleep can lead to spikes in blood sugar.
One study, for example, found that participants who slept only four hours a night for six nights experienced significant drops in glucose tolerance.
The connection is probably related to a decrease in both cortisol and nervous system activity that happens during deep sleep — which, among other changes in the body during sleep, is thought to help regulate blood sugar.
It’s a good idea then to pay extra attention to your blood sugar levels after sleepless nights.
➡ A review published in December 2015 in Diabetes Therapy concluded that a lack of sleep may increase your risk of developing diabetes and interfere with glucose control and insulin sensitivity if you already have the disease.
➡ Sleep is restorative. Not getting enough sleep is a form of chronic stress on the body, and anytime 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 an improvement in your blood sugar levels as well.
➡ To help offset these risks, the National Sleep Foundation recommends you aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep at a time, according to your schedule.
The illness itself can increase blood sugar levels, but so can illness-fighting medications.
➡ A number of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications — even some vitamins and supplements — have been shown to raise blood sugar.
➡ Corticosteroids (steroid hormones used to give relief for inflamed areas of the body). They lessen swelling, redness, itching, and allergic reactions).
➡ Asthma medications
➡ Birth control pills
➡ Certain antidepressants such as:
- Quetiapine (Seroquel)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
➡ And even some medications for severe acne
So, naturally, it’s important to let your doctor know about each medication you take, whether “over the counter” or prescribed by another doctor.
Together you can work to control your blood sugar despite other medications.
Poor Dental Health
Gum disease has long been recognized as a complication of Type 2 Diabetes. In turn, researchers are finding that unhealthy gums may actually increase blood sugar levels.
➡ According to the American Dental Association, germs from infected gums can get into the bloodstream, which sends the body into high alert.
➡ The body then produces molecules that cause harm in a number of ways, one of which may be to increase blood sugar.
The dental association recommends that people with type 2 diabetes take extra care of their gums. Brush twice a day and see your dentist regularly to have your gums checked.
Read More About Gum Disease In Diabetics here:
Hormonal changes during a woman’s premenstrual period:
While the effect varies from person to person, some women with diabetes become less sensitive to insulin (insulin resistant) during the week or so leading up to their period, which can translate into above-normal sugar levels.
➡ Readings typically return to normal once menstruation begins.
If you notice that your blood sugar consistently runs high the week before your period, it may help to trim back the number of carbohydrates you’re eating during that time or squeeze in some extra exercise.
Menstrual periods are notorious for sending women’s moods and eating habits all over the place, but did you know that the menstrual cycle can also cause a swing in a woman’s blood sugar levels?
➡ While the effect varies from person to person, some women with diabetes become less sensitive to insulin (insulin resistance) during the week or so leading up to their period, which can translate into above-normal sugar levels.
➡ Readings typically return to normal once menstruation begins.
➡ If you notice that your blood sugar consistently runs high the week before your period, it may help to trim back the number of carbohydrates you’re eating during that time or squeeze in some extra exercise.
➡ Women heading into menopause are also likely to find their blood sugar levels to be unpredictable.
If your menstrual cycle seems to affect your blood sugar level, you may find it helpful to look for a monthly pattern in your blood sugar readings. This would allow you to predict changes in your blood sugar and to work with your doctor to adjust your treatment approach as needed when your period arrives.
The “Dawn Phenomenon”
It’s not uncommon to wake up to a high blood sugar reading, even if your number was normal when you went to bed.
You may be experiencing the “dawn phenomenon,” which occurs when the body prepares 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 in people with diabetes, can contribute to a blood sugar spike in the morning.
On the other hand, 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.
➡ If you see a trend in your morning readings — or they’re highly erratic from day to day — work with your doctor or Diabetes Educator to identify the problem so you can take steps to correct it.
Too Much Caffeine
According to the Mayo Clinic, while consuming up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day is safe for most people.
In diabetics, however, caffeine can affect how insulin behaves, leading to low or high blood sugar.
You may even notice blood sugar swings after drinking only two 8-ounce plain cups of brewed coffee.
Blood Sugar Testing Mistakes May Cause Inaccurate Readings
If you don’t remember to wash your hands before checking your blood sugar, you may experience a false alarm.
Testing after handling food can produce an incorrect high reading because sugar residues on the skin can contaminate the blood sample.
Other things that may disrupt your blood sugar levels include:
➡ Extreme hot or cold weather
➡ Traveling, which can disrupt your insulin and eating schedules
The good news is that by sticking to a diabetes-friendly diet, incorporating physical activity into your day, taking medications (if recommended by your doctor), and regularly and correctly measuring your blood sugar levels, you can gain better control over your Type 2 Diabetes and live the life you choose.