When Your Blood Sugar Is Too High or Too Low
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to
keep your blood sugar in the range your doctor has advised, it can be too high
or too low. Blood sugar that is too high or too low can make you very sick.
Here's how to handle these emergencies.
What You Need to Know about High Blood Sugar
If your blood sugar stays over 240,
it is too high. High blood sugar usually comes on slowly. It happens when you
don't have enough insulin in your body. High blood sugar can happen if you miss
taking your diabetes medicine, eat too much, or don't get enough exercise.
Sometimes, medicines you take for other problems may cause high blood sugar. Be
sure to tell your doctor about other medicines you take.
This chart shows the ranges of blood sugar.
Having an infection or being sick or under
stress can also make your blood sugar too high. That is why it is very
important to test your blood and keep taking your medicine (insulin or diabetes
pills) when you have an infection or are sick.
Your blood sugar may be too high if you are
very thirsty and tired, have blurry vision, are losing weight fast, and have to
go to the bathroom often. Very high blood sugar may make you feel sick to your
stomach, faint, or throw up. It can cause you to lose too much fluid from your
Testing your blood sugar often, especially
when you are sick, will warn you that your blood sugar may be rising too high.
If your blood sugar stays over 300 when you check it two times in a row,
call your doctor. You may need a change in your insulin shots or diabetes
pills, or a change in your meal plan.
If you are not sick and do not have ketones
in your urine, going for a slow walk or some other easy exercise may lower your
What You Need to Know about Low Blood Sugar
If your blood sugar drops too low, you can
have a low blood sugar reaction, called hypoglycemia. A low blood sugar
reaction can come on fast. It is caused by taking too much insulin, missing a
meal, delaying a meal, exercising too much, or drinking too much alcohol.
Sometimes, medicines you take for other health problems can cause blood sugar
A low blood sugar reaction can make you feel
shaky, mixed up, unhappy, hungry, or tired. You may sweat a lot or get a
headache. Your legs may shake. If your blood sugar drops lower, you can get
very confused, sleepy, or irritable, or you may pass out or have a
Treat low blood sugar quickly. If you have
signs of low blood sugar, eat or drink something that has sugar in it. Some
things you can eat are hard candy, sugar-sweetened soda, orange juice, or a
glass of milk. Special tablets or gel made of glucose (a form of sugar) can be
used to treat low blood sugar. You can buy these in a drug store. Always have
some of these items handy at home or with you when you go out in case your
blood sugar drops too low. After treating a low blood sugar reaction, eat a
small snack like half a sandwich, a glass of milk, or some crackers if your
next meal is more than 30 minutes away.