In Case Of Highs Or Lows

How to handle blood sugar highs and lows

When you have diabetes, you may have high or low blood sugar levels from time to time. It's important to know the signs and symptoms of each and follow your healthcare provider's instructions for handling them.

Understanding low blood sugar

When blood sugar drops below normal low levels, it is called hypoglycemia. Different things, including too little food, too much physical activity, too much diabetes medication, other medications, and/or alcohol can cause low blood sugar in people with diabetes. Because hypoglycemia is potentially serious, it’s important to be able to understand the signs and symptoms when it happens so blood sugar levels can be brought back into your recommended range. There may be no symptoms, so checking blood sugar levels as recommended by your doctor is important.

Common symptoms of low blood sugar:

  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Hunger or nausea
  • Nightmares
  • Tingling or numbness in the lips or tongue
  • Sweating or chills

What to do in case
of low blood sugar

Follow the rule of 15* to treat hypoglycemia

  1. Check your blood sugar
  2. Eat 15-20 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates:
    • Glucose tablets or gel (available at pharmacies)
    • Hard candies (not chocolate)
    • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) of juice or regular (not diet) soda
  3. Wait 15 minutes and check your blood sugar again
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 until your blood sugar is in the range your doctor recommended
  5. Once your blood sugar returns to normal, have a small snack if your next scheduled meal is more than one hour away
  6. If your blood sugar is still too low, contact or call your healthcare provider

If you experience low blood sugar frequently, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider and find out if you need to change anything in your overall diabetes management plan. To learn more about hypoglycemia, watch the video below.

*Per American Diabetes Association

Avoiding high blood sugar

When your blood sugar level is too high, it is called hyperglycemia. It means your body doesn’t have enough insulin, or it's not processing insulin properly. Too much food, too little physical activity, too little diabetes medication, and taking other medications, such as steroids, as well as stress or illness are some of the things that can cause hyperglycemia. There may be no symptoms, so checking blood sugar is important.

Common symptoms of high blood sugar:

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Headaches
  • Increased urination
  • Trouble paying attention
  • Blurry vision
  • Yeast infections

What to do in case
of high blood sugar

Left untreated, high blood sugar
can be very serious

Work with your doctor to find the safest way to lower your blood sugar levels. This may include adjusting your:

  1. Meal plan
  2. Exercise routine
  3. Diabetes medication(s)

To get this important conversation started, download a discussion guide.

Learn More

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Keep a hard candy
or juice on hand if
your blood sugar
gets too low

Mallory C., TeamingUp Coach