Your blood sugar ( glucose) levels are a good indicator of your health. Each time your blood sugar is not within a healthy range, you will begin to feel ill and the symptoms may vary if your blood sugar is high or low. Being aware of the signals your body sends you is very important for managing your diabetes.
Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycaemia)
Low blood sugar occurs when your blood sugar reading is less than 70 mg/dl. Some common reasons for low blood sugar are skipping meals, too much exercise, unplanned exercise, delayed meals, stress, or any illness or infection of the body.
Some symptoms of low blood sugar include:
- Being sweaty and/or shaky
- Feeling weak
- Having a headache
- Feeling confused,uncoordinated or irritable
- Being hungry
- Becoming pale
- Having a rapid heart rate
Here’s what to do when you experience any symptoms of low blood sugar:
Follow the 15-15 rule, that is, eat or drink something which has 15 grams of carbohydrates such as a glass of orange juice, three sweets or candies or a teaspoon of sugar. Make sure you rest for 15 mins then re-check your blood glucose. If your blood glucose is still low in the next reading, repeat and follow the 15-15 rule again.
If your next meal is more than an hour away, have 1 carbohydrate as a snack to keep your blood glucose levels from going low again. If your blood glucose is consistently low, you should consult your doctor immediately.
Exercise and Hypoglycaemia
Physical activity can lower blood glucose, so plan to test your blood sugar before working out and eat a light pre- workout snacks like a banana, apple or a glass of juice if you need to. Make sure you test glucose before and after any physical activity so that you can figure out how your body reacts to an exercise plan. Record the results and share them with your doctor to make sure he/she is aware of how exercise is affecting your body.
Establishing a routine helps to maintain regularity which is key for diabetes patients. Have a regular time for exercise and stick to it with little or no change. Evening exercises could result in low sugar overnight and you can avoid hypoglycaemia by snacking before going to bed.
Weather & Hypoglycaemia
When it is hot and humid, like in summer, your metabolism is higher. There is greater chance of becoming dehydrated or losing body fluids. If you sweat too much while exercising, you might find your blood levels increasing.
Symptoms of hypoglycaemia can be easily mistaken for your body’s response to heat. This makes it difficult to recognise low blood sugar. Testing is the best way to know how your body is reacting to exercise in any particular weather.
High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycaemia)
If your blood sugar reading shows more than 160 mg/dl, you are likely experiencing high blood sugar. High blood sugar levels may occur when you:
- Have eaten too much food
- Gotten little exercise or no physical activity
- Skipped or did not take enough diabetes pills/ insulin
- Used insulin that has been spoiled after being exposed to extreme heat/freezing cold
- Are stressed, have an illness, infection, injury or surgery
- Are using a blood glucose meter that is not reading accurately
Some common symptoms of high blood glucose include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Dry mouth/ skin
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Blurred vision
- More frequent infections
- Slow healing cuts or sores
- Unexplained weight loss
Here’s what to do when you experience any symptoms of high blood sugar:
Make sure to drink plenty of water – at least 8 glasses of water a day should help you to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
When your blood glucose is 250 mg/dl or higher, you should take your insulin and check your urine for ketones. If you find ketones, you should consult a doctor about your next steps. Ask yourself what may have caused the high blood sugar, sometimes there might be something that is obvious that you can catch. Tracking your food, exercise and medication comes in handy at these times as you can look back and see what could have caused your blood sugar spike.
Identifying patterns to your blood sugar levels is helpful for you and your doctor. Check your blood sugar levels before & after meals 3 days in a row to find any inconsistencies or regularities.
If your blood glucose continues to be higher than the healthy range for 3 days, a change in medication may be needed.