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3 Causes of High Blood Sugar Levels in Diabetics

Updated on March 18, 2022
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Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She researches and shares remedies for using certain products for illnesses.

No matter how careful diabetics are with planning meals, their blood sugar level will be high from time to time. It might be hard to pinpoint the cause of the spike, but there are three triggers that diabetics should investigate, according to diabetes doctors and nutritionists.

The Joslin Diabetes Center encourages diabetics to evaluate how much these three things might be the cause.

  1. Carbohydrates
  2. Stress
  3. Medications

1. Carbohydrates

Think back over your last meal and determine if you have eaten more carbohydrates than you should have eaten. Foods that contain carbohydrates are those that have the greatest impact on your blood sugar levels. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. So, don't think eating one kind will not cause a spike in your blood sugar level because they all do. Know that carbohydrates are in the sugar, starch, and fiber that you eat.

Most diabetics know that eating carbohydrates is one of the worst culprits. Not only should they be mindful of foods they know have a lot of carbohydrates, but they should be careful about the hidden ones also. For instance, there are hidden carbohydrates in sugar-free foods, such as sugar-free ice cream that has about 14 grams of carbohydrates because of the milk that's in it.

If you have a choice of eating a bagel or a slice of toast, which would you select? While they both have carbohydrates, the bagel has from four to five times more carbs. Therefore, choose the slice of toast instead.

Whenever possible, swap out foods with a higher carbohydrates level for those that don't contain as much.

A good tip to keep in mind when it comes to carbohydrates is to cook your foods one day, but do not eat them until the next day. Hot pasta contains more carbohydrates than pasta that has been cooked the day before.

2. Stress

Take inventory of your life for the last day or so and determine if you have been physically or mentally stressful. Either kind could trigger a spike in a diabetic's blood sugar level.

So, what the difference between physical stress and mental stress?

Physical stress happens when you are sick, injured or have had surgery no matter what it was for. The blood sugar glucose is likely to rise. You will notice that it goes down after you are well again. Something as common as a cold could cause a person's blood glucose level to shoot up rapidly.

Mental stress or emotional stress happens when people are overly concerned or worried about something they can't control. Stress can enter a person's life when he or she least expects it.

People should not make the mistake of thinking that every stressful thing is bad. There could be some good stress as well, such as planning a wedding or getting a job promotion.

Other things could cause mental stress, such as a failed relationship, a divorce, relocating, making a presentation on your job, speaking in your church, or saying something at a community meeting.

People with Type 2 diabetes will almost always notice an increase in their blood glucose number when they are stressed. Ironically, people with Type 1 diabetes usually notice a decrease in their blood sugar when they are stressed.

The most effective ways to relieve mental stress are to relax, meditate, and exercise.

3. Medications

If you have a common cold, you will more than likely have to endure physical stress. Then when you take cold or cough medicine that contains sugar, it will result in a high blood sugar level. It is ironic that when you take medicine to cure one thing, it is causing a negative side effect on your blood sugar level.

It is also ironic that some medicines will definitely cause your blood sugar level to rise. Blood pressure medicines are good examples of what causes a spike in a diabetic's blood sugar. Diuretics or water pills will send your blood sugar level through the roof. Arthritis and birth control pills could do the same thing.

Make Adjustments

There are many reasons a person's blood sugar level could go higher, but the three reasons listed above might be a good way to find out what is making the meter to record a very high number.

Consider those three reasons and make the necessary adjustments to get your number under control.

Also, know everyone is different, and there might be something else going on other than the culprits listed above. If your level keeps rising and you can't figure out the reason, have a serious discussion with your doctor. Perhaps he or she will be able to help you determine what is causing an increase in your glucose level.


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