December 28


Unexpectedly High Glucose Levels – Causes and Prevention

By Gabriela

December 28, 2020

Even if we are following our doctor’s recommendation, exercising regularly, and eating right, our sugar levels might sometimes increase unexpectedly. The director of the Diabetes Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, Linda M. Siminerio, RD, Ph.D., talks on this topic.

According to Dr. Siminerio, blood glucose levels fluctuate constantly in those affected by the chronic condition. However, if they wake up with unexpected high blood glucose, they should not ignore it.

In case high blood glucose occurs once in a while and they can get it under control with exercise and insulin, it might be nothing serious.

According to Dr. Siminerio, this might happen due to a big piece of cake they had the previous night or because they weren’t physically active the previous day.

However, if they regularly wake up with high blood glucose and don’t know the reason behind it they need to investigate it. Read on to find out more about unexpectedly high glucose levels.

Causes of Unexpectedly High Glucose Levels

The reason might be the hormones (other than insulin) produced by the body in order to regulate the activity of certain cells and organs.

Hormones are actually bossy substances, exerting an impact on the mood, digestive, growth, metabolic and reproductive functions.

As a matter of fact, when development stages, emotional stress, surgery, or illness activate some changes in the hormones, blood glucose might be impacted as well:

When the body is under stress, it readies for action by ensuring that there is a sufficient amount of glucose available.

In fact, the insulin levels drop while epinephrine, i.e., adrenaline and glucagon levels increase to make sure that the liver releases more sugar.

Simultaneously, growth hormone and cortisol amounts increase, making our muscle and fat tissues less sensitive to insulin. Insulin requirements for kids increase as the kids grow, mainly during puberty.

This occurs due to fluctuations in a stew of testosterone, estrogen, and similar hormones and growth. Growth hormone mainly might lead to muscle and fat cells to resist insulin.

Then the body compensates by making more insulin in kids that don’t have diabetes, but those kids with type 1 might need notable adjustments of their insulin dose.

Estrogen, testosterone, and similar hormones might start hyperglycemia in some women and girls who have the chronic condition, by causing temporary insulin resistance.

In fact, 3 to 5 days before their period many women and girls notice increased blood glucose levels. Some of them continue to have increased sugar after their period starts, while others notice a fast decline.

During menopause, women continuously report having less predictable blood glucose numbers.

Preventing Blood Sugar From Going Too High

There are ways to avoid increased blood glucose levels:

Monitor Blood Sugar On a Regular Basis

This needs to be a priority for us. We should monitor our blood sugar regularly and ensure to keep track of the results. We should also talk about our blood sugar results with our doctor.

However, in case we are experiencing unexplained and frequent blood glucose spikes, we should contact our doctor immediately.

By monitoring and keeping track of sugar values, we’ll understand recurring sugar fluctuations due to periodic hormonal changes, and might accordingly adjust our diabetes management plan.


Exercise might lower our blood glucose because the muscles need to call the sugar stores for power. However, we should not exercise in case we have ketones, a kind of acid, in the urine.

Why? Because exercising with ketones might be risky since it can make our blood glucose go up.

Signs We Have Ketones In The Urine

  • Shortness of breath;
  • Dry mouth;
  • Fruity breath;
  • Throwing up;
  • Nausea.

Also, we can consult our doctor about how to test for ketones in our urine with ketone strips at the comfort of our home.

Take The Medication As Prescribed

In case our blood glucose fluctuates overnight, we might need to adjust our timing or dose or maybe even try another medication.

Also, we should bear in mind that after some time we might need to change our usual medication. That is why it is crucial to visit a doctor.

Lower Stress Levels

We should try to do some activities that relax us, mainly before bedtime so we could sleep better. Our doctor might help us prevent unexpected high blood glucose.


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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