Blood sugar levels can be quite fickle, so controlling them is really important. That’s because constant blood sugar ups and downs can cause many health complications in those with type 2 diabetes.
These include heart disease, kidney failure, eye problems, nerve damage, teeth and gum damage, etc.
Keeping the blood glucose levels within healthy ranges will not only help prevent these health problems, but will also help us stay focused, energized, and in a good mood.
To achieve that we need proper medication, regular exercise, effective meal planning, and tracking our blood glucose numbers regularly.
Knowing how different habits affect our blood glucose levels can help us predict how they will swing. Extremely low blood glucose, or hypoglycemia, is more likely to occur in those with advanced disease, as ADA explains.
On the other hand, hyperglycemia, or high blood glucose, can occur when we don’t follow a proper therapy, diet, and exercise regimen, or when we take steroids and other medications.
Both, low and high blood glucose can lead to serious health complications. Hyperglycemia can cause vomiting, nausea, or shortness of breath, not to mention the damage it does to our organs, and hypoglycemia can cause dizziness, confusion, seizures, blurred vision, unconsciousness, and even death.
That’s why we should learn how to manage the factors that impact our blood glucose levels and adjust accordingly.
Here are several causes of blood glucose swings people might not be aware of.
Causes of Blood Glucose Swings
1. Artificial Sweeteners
According to a study in 2013, beverages like diet drinks that contain artificial sweeteners can increase blood glucose. So, if we think these sugar-free beverages won’t affect our blood glucose levels, we better think again.
Even though there are other studies that suggest that artificial sweeteners don’t affect blood glucose levels, researchers still agree that drinking diet soda on a regular basis is bad for our blood glucose control. So, it’s best to stay away from these beverages.
Lack of liquid in our body makes the glucose in our blood more concentrated, thus raising our blood glucose levels. And, hyperglycemia can make us urinate more, leading to dehydration.
That’s why we should drink at least two liters of water a day, and even more, if we are obese.
3. Taking Certain Medication
Some medications which can interfere with our blood glucose levels are steroids, birth control pills, diuretics, antipsychotics, certain nasal decongestants, and antidepressants.
These could raise our blood sugar levels, while others could decrease it, leading to hypoglycemia. So, we should make sure we consult a pharmacist or doctor before taking any new medication, whether it’s prescribed one or not.
4. Dawn Phenomenon
Waking up with high blood glucose is not uncommon even if we’ve gone to bed with a perfectly normal glucose reading. This is called the dawn phenomenon and happens when growth and other hormones are released around 3-4 am, preparing the body to wake up.
Since these hormones reduce our body’s insulin sensitivity, they could contribute to high blood glucose readings in the morning.
5. Menstrual Cycle
Mood swings, bloating, and cramping are not the only uncomfortable symptoms of the woman’s monthly period. Apparently, her blood glucose levels can also be affected during this time of the month.
Even though this doesn’t refer to all women, those with diabetes become less sensitive to insulin in the days before their menstrual cycle. This, in turn, results in higher blood glucose than normal.
However, their blood glucose levels usually return to normal as soon as their monthly period begins. So, if women notice their blood glucose levels are higher than normal in the week before their period, they might want to reduce their carb intake or do some extra exercise.
Also, they could consult their doctor to adjust their medication during this period, especially if they take regular insulin shots.
6. Lack of Sleep
According to a review, restless nights can affect our blood sugar levels, along with hurting our energy and mood. So, lack of sleep can raise the risk of diabetes, as well as worsen insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control in those who already have the disease.
That’s why we should try to get 7-9 hours of good-quality sleep per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
7. Extreme Temperatures
Extremely hot temperatures can interfere with blood sugar levels. In some, the hot temperatures may cause blood sugar spikes as the weather puts extra stress on their system, while in others it may cause the opposite.
Those who take regular insulin shots are more likely to experience a sudden drop in their blood sugar levels. So, avoid going outdoors during the hottest time of the day, and be sure to monitor blood glucose when the temperatures start to rise.
Long flights and skipping a few time zones can cause some unexpected problems for those with poor blood glucose control. By disrupting their routines like sleeping hours, unusual eating, and changes in their medication schedule, the time change can interfere with their blood glucose control.
What’s more, they may drink and eat more, and be more active during a vacation, all of which could affect their condition. That’s why they should consider packing healthy snacks and a refillable water bottle to avoid dehydration.
Also, they shouldn’t forget to adjust their insulin and medication schedule with their doctor before going on a trip.
9. Excess Caffeine
The European Journal of Nutrition published a study that shows drinking 3-4 cups of coffee every day can cut the risk of type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, another study suggests that excess caffeine intake can spike blood glucose levels in those who already have the condition.
In fact, these people might notice blood sugar swings even after consuming just two 8oz plain cups of brewed coffee, as caffeine affects the behavior of insulin.
Still, the effects of caffeine vary from person to person, so be sure to monitor blood glucose levels to see how it affects them.
10. Blood Glucose Testing Mistakes
According to research, not washing our hands before checking our blood sugar levels can cause a false alarm. That’s because of sugar residues on our hands. So, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before getting a blood sample.
11. A Bad Cold
When our body is trying to fight off a cold or another illness, our blood glucose levels start to increase. So, we should drink enough water to prevent dehydration. Also, we may want to consult a doctor if we have diarrhea or vomiting longer than two hours, or if we are ill for two days without improvement.
Don’t forget that some medications like nasal decongestants and antibiotics can impact blood glucose readings.