In the treatment of diabetes, the focus is on keeping the blood sugar levels in a normal range through diet, lifestyle changes and medication. This helps to prevent the long-term complications of diabetes. But sometimes, when sugar levels rise in diabetics, they know how to lower sugar levels naturally.
Diabetes is a risky disease. It increases the risk of heart disease, nerve damage, kidney disease, diabetic retinopathy and non-healing wounds, etc. Depending on the individual, the doctor will monitor and work to keep the blood sugar in a target range. With readily available kits to self-measure blood sugar levels at home, it is becoming easier for patients to monitor their blood sugar levels. The doctor will advise you on the frequency of checking your blood sugar level and the ideal range it should be in.
However, sometimes the blood sugar can go up beyond the normal range due to various reasons. This condition of high blood sugar is known as hyperglycemia.
The cause of high blood sugar levels can range from being sick, stressful situations, overeating and of course, missing one’s medication.
The symptoms of high blood sugar include tiredness, excessive thirst, blurring of vision and increased frequency of urination. If high blood glucose continues for a long time, the patient runs the risk of developing the health problems mentioned above.
In the short term, high blood sugar can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, which is more common in case of Type 1 Diabetes, or Hyperosmolar Hyperglycaemic State, a short-term complication most commonly associated with Type 2 Diabetes. Both conditions are serious.
The test for diabetic ketoacidosis is to check the urine for ketones, which are chemicals produced in the liver when the body breaks down fat for energy. In diabetes, the lack of insulin results in an inability to use sugar for energy and an over-reliance on fat with a high level of ketones in the body. This can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis that requires hospitalization and can be life-threatening.
Also read: Diabetes: Why do blood sugar levels rise after meals?
While some sources claim that consuming water or a high-protein snack can help you lower your blood sugar levels quickly, there isn’t enough evidence to back this up. You need to contact your doctor immediately.
However, if you need to lower your blood sugar quickly and effectively in an emergency, you can use the following ways:
Do not miss a medicine dose. If you have been prescribed insulin, consult your doctor on how much insulin to take. Check your blood sugar 30-60 minutes later to ensure it is decreasing and not falling too low.
Exercising is effective in bringing down blood sugar levels. This may be a brisk walk. However, if you don’t exercise regularly, this is not something you should do all of a sudden. It’s crucial to check your urine for ketones and if your blood sugar level is higher than 240 mg/dl. Exercise should be avoided if ketones are present because it may cause your blood sugar to spike even higher.
Incorporating a regular exercise routine in daily life can help you reach and maintain an optimal weight and increase insulin sensitivity1. The body needs glucose to function during exercise. In turn, the muscles receive glucose from the blood, and blood sugar levels typically decrease.
High blood sugar levels can quickly escalate into a medical emergency. If you have any of the symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis such as confusion, frequent urination, excessive thirst, nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting, check your ketones in your urine (you can do a quick urine test at home using a dipstick test) and go to the hospital.
If you have two readings in a row of 300 or higher, it is always advisable to visit doctor.
There is no magic wand to lower blood sugar. It requires control and discipline. Take your medicines regularly. Keep track of your blood sugar levels and see what makes them go higher or lower. Keep a regular schedule for meals. Eat healthy and do not overeat or skip meals. Avoid sugared drinks. Limit intake of alcohol. Stop smoking.
A healthy lifestyle will go a long way in helping your blood sugar stay under control and enable you to live a long and healthy life!
Dr Archana Juneja Consultant, Endocrinologist, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital Mumbai
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