Factors that Affect Blood Glucose
Last updated: October 2022
Many of us may often try to predict what our blood glucose levels may be, but as some of you may have learned, diabetes can be unpredictable and your blood glucose sometimes has a mind of its own. Regardless if you ate the same thing as you did the day prior and followed your same routine, it is often normal to have fluctuations with your blood glucose levels.
Fluctuations in blood sugar levels
As frustrating as it might be, sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to understand why your blood glucose levels are what they are. Although you have the ability to control what you eat and the amount, your level of physical activity and taking your medications consistently and correctly there are many other factors that may contribute to both high and low blood glucose levels. If we have a better understanding of what is causing blood glucose levels to fluctuate we have a better job of controlling it, right? Below are some factors that may contribute to some of your blood glucose fluctuations throughout the day.
What can cause high blood sugar (hyperglycemia)?
- What we eat and drink
- Not being physically active (or being less active than normal)
- Diabetes medications
- Not getting enough insulin or oral medications
- Missing medications
- Not taking diabetes medications correctly
- Not injecting insulin correctly
- Stress (this may include both physical or mental stress)
- Illness/infection (colds, flu etc.)
- Injury/Pain or surgery
- Menstrual periods or menopause (changes in hormones)
- Various medications such as; steroids or psych meds
- Sleep (not getting enough sleep)
What can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)?
- Not eating enough carbohydrates at meals
- Skipping meals throughout the day
- Diabetes Medications
- Taking insulin or diabetes medication without eating any carbohydrates
- Too much insulin or other diabetes medications that may cause hypoglycemia (if you regularly experience hypoglycemia, you should discuss with your provider)
- Increased activity level or more activity than normal (this could include housework!)
- Alcohol (especially when consumed on an empty stomach!)
Everyone is different
Next time you see a blood glucose level out of range; do not feel bad or guilty. Rather focus your energy on what could have potentially caused this, and try to implement changes to better control these fluctuations. This is where tracking blood glucose values may be helpful in order to better understand any patterns and trends, and make decisions about food and activity. Using a logbook or technology may make tracking your blood glucose levels easier.
Remember, it’s important to consider that each individual is unique, and these causes of high and low blood sugars factors may affect everyone differently. If you are frequently seeing blood sugars outside the normal range, it may be a good idea to follow up with your health care team to figure out the possible cause.
We would love for you to share with the type 2 diabetes community some other factors that have affected your blood glucose levels!
Do you chew your food slowly or quickly?
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