Individuals with diabetes know how challenging it is to manage blood sugar. It is certainly no easy task especially with all the misconceptions about hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. Let’s clear up the three most common myths about this condition.
Myth #1: A person can feel when their blood sugars are high. There are symptoms such as increased thirst and frequent urination that may indicate a person has high blood sugars. However, the most accurate way to tell if you have high blood sugar is to test it with a glucometer, a meter that measures blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. It’s important to discuss your blood sugars goals and how often you should monitor it with your physician.
Myth #2: Eating sugars and carbohydrates is the only reason blood sugars may be elevated. Carbohydrates and sugar (a type of carbohydrate) can definitely increase blood sugars if eaten in excess. Carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, starchy foods like breads, cereals and grains, milk and yogurt, as well as sweets. But, carbohydrates aren’t the only thing that can elevate blood sugars. Here are some surprising reasons your blood sugars may be high:
- Too much fat at a meal. While fat may not directly impact blood sugars, it can keep blood sugars elevated for longer if it’s eaten in excess at a meal. It’s important to limit saturated fats by choosing lean meats and watching portion sizes.
- Stress. Stress hormones can increase blood sugar levels and it can be physical or mental.
- Lack of sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation will definitely cause stress, which can lead to increased blood sugar levels.
- Illness or infection. Your body releases hormones to fight illness and infections. These hormones can raise blood sugar levels.
- Inactivity. Regular exercise has a glucose-lowering effect so being inactive can allow those blood sugars to creep up.
- Medications. Certain medications, like steroids, can elevate blood sugars. Not taking your diabetes medications can also elevate blood sugars.
- Dehydration. Stay hydrated with water and zero-calorie beverages.
Myth #3: There are certain foods that can lower high blood sugars. Unfortunately, there isn’t a food to treat high blood sugars. However, there are some things you can do.
- Drink water. Water may not necessarily lower blood sugars, but it may if you have high blood sugars from dehydration. Also, it can replace any fluid lost from frequent urination caused by high blood sugars.
- Physical activity. Walking can lower blood sugars. This is a safe option if blood sugars are high, but still less than 250mg/dl.
- Identify what caused your high blood sugar. This is the best step at preventing it for next time. Did you consume too many carbohydrates at a meal or are you experiencing more stress than usual?
- Talk to your physician. If you are having frequent high blood sugars, you should contact your physician to discuss an actionable plan.