Fluctuating numbers are incredibly frustrating as a diabetic. Is high really worse than low though? Short term maybe not but long-term bouts of your numbers running high can lead to lots of complications like nerve damage, damage to the small blood vessels, and vital organs. What causes your numbers to run high as a diabetic? There are lots of causes, but I’ll hit on a few of the main reasons why your numbers may be running high that you may not have thought of.
The first cause would be not figuring up your insulin dosages correctly. Whether you are on shots or a pump math is key to determining the right amount of insulin to take. Inaccurate carb counting is also a big factor in glucose levels. Taking a refresher course in carb counting may help you more accurately determine your meal’s carbohydrate count. Being sick may cause you to run high or low really any form of stress on your body can release other types of hormones into your system and cause your blood sugar to run high. Locations can affect it too. Personally, if I step foot in my doctor’s office my numbers automatically rise and even something like elevation may trigger it. If your doctor prescribes you any new medications, there is a chance it could run your numbers up. If you are seeing a specialist for any reason, make sure they have your full medical history and know that you are a diabetic so they know before prescribing you anything that could affect your glucose levels. (Also having a good relationship with your pharmacist is a good backup to have because they know which meds can affect your numbers as well if the doctor forgets you are a diabetic.) Hormone imbalances including pregnancy and thyroid issues may make your numbers go way wacky. Surgeries and pump malfunctions could also make you very high. Last but not least would be changing insulin types. This could cause you to be very sick so if your doctor or insurance requires you to change insulin types be very aware that you might not have as good control as you did on the first type.
What are some things you can do to prevent yourself from going high? The one that helps me the most is pre blousing before meals. It’s like playing catch-up if I don’t pre bolus. I try to take insulin about 10-20 minutes before I eat and if I’m at a new place and I’m not exactly sure of how much food I will eat, or that will be on the plate I try to count for each thing I order and take for it but guess a little on the low side then once I see the portions take a bit more, so the insulin has a bit more time to kick in and lower the curve/ spike of the numbers. Looking up carbs if you don’t know them is key. Keeping in mind that books, App’s, and the internet may not be exactly perfect in their postings. If you find you have this problem with the count of a certain food just make a mental note that you may need more insulin for this food like pizza or something next time. Also, tricky foods like this may do your numbers better when you set up a square wave bolus (if you have a pump) than just a regular bolus. A Square wave is a bolus that gives a certain percentage of the bolus up front then gives more insulin later at the time desired this may be 30 mins to an hour later. Also those who have insulin resistance may have better control of their numbers if they take a medication like metformin that most type 2 diabetics take. It does not work for everyone but may help some achieve better insulin absorbency.
If you try all these tricks and your numbers still are running higher than you would like for them to you may need to schedule an appointment with your endocrinologist because they may need to make some adjustments to your formula for your sliding scale or perhaps your basal rate if you are on an insulin pump. Diabetes isn’t always a perfect game and your insulin requirements may change with time and the amount of exercise you do or with more portion control. We may have everything figured out one day and the next feel like everything went to crap. It’s okay to make mistakes because we all do but being able to recognize when it was just a mistake in figuring your dose or if it is a constant struggle that may need your doctors help in figuring out may keep you from facing devastating complications like loss of feeling in extremities, loss of eyesight, or heart disease and high blood pressure.
Talk to your doctor says you are on the way to having these complications if your numbers don’t drastically change, please listen to them. This isn’t just a joke this is your life. You are the one in control and in the driver’s seat. I know it’s hard and a struggle everyday but the thing I have learned through all this is that every good choice you make gets you prepared to make another good choice. It becomes more habit than just feeling like you have to do this because it’s the right choice. When you see the progress making smarter choices has and the affect eating lower carb foods and protein has on your numbers you will be encouraged to keep making these better choices for yourself and you will feel better and better.
By: Miranda Montgomery (Type 1 diabetic for 20+ years) Admin for Type 1 Diabetes Support Group on Facebook with 13.4 K members