Is insulin enough to reduce blood sugar immediately? Insulin’s main function is to lower blood sugar levels, but does your insulin dosage do the job?
The simple answer is: yes, insulin does the job, especially for those with insulin-dependent diabetes. There are certainly alternative ways to lower blood sugar immediately, but that’s not exactly the goal when it comes to diabetes.
You don’t want to lower blood sugar rapidly, just for the sake of being rapid. If you reduce blood sugar too quickly, then you’ll end up having to deal with low blood sugar instead.
Diabetes management is more about finding balance and treating yourself in a controlled manner. So, while you might need to reduce blood sugar immediately in some situations, you can do it in a way where you’re still in control.
Find out how to stay in control, lower blood sugar, and get back to your normal lockdown routine of bread-baking and Tiger King-viewing!
When to Lower Blood Sugar
When blood sugar is too high, it is termed hyperglycemia. The World Health Organization recognises hyperglycemia as blood sugar that’s above 126 mg/dL or 7.0 mmol/L in a period before eating (fasting), or above 200 mg/dL or 11.1 mmol/L two hours after eating.
When blood sugar is at this point, you should take steps to reduce those numbers. It goes without saying that testing blood sugar regularly is ideal, in order to know when you’re hyperglycemic.
You may also realise that you’re hyperglycemic if you’re experiencing some of the following symptoms:
- Frequent urination
- Increasingly thirsty
- Difficulty concentrating
- Blurred vision
According to the American Diabetes Association, when blood sugar levels start teetering towards 250 mg/dL or 13.9 mmol/L is when diabetic ketoacidosis can occur.
Ketoacidosis happens because of the body’s need for fuel. With high blood sugar, the body isn’t getting any fuel in the form of glucose. Instead, the body tries to burn fat for fuel, but this process leads to ketones – essentially acids – building up in the bloodstream.
Symptoms of ketoacidosis can include symptoms of hyperglycemia, along with:
- Vomiting or feeling nauseous
- Sweet-smelling breath
- Being short of breath
- Dry mouth
- Pain in the abdomen
To avoid the buildup of ketones (and to avoid a possible coma), it’s best to test for ketone levels to know what’s going on. There’s no uniform moment to check for ketones: the NHS suggests checking ketone levels from the moment you are hyperglycemic, if you can.
Meanwhile, diabetes.co.uk recommends checking for ketones if your blood sugar levels have been consistently above 13 mmol/L or 230 mg/dL.
You can easily keep track of this with Hedia, which gives an attention warning recommending you to check ketones if you have recorded blood sugar above 15 mmol/L or 270 mg/dL more than twice in six hours.
The higher the reading for ketone levels, the higher the likelihood of diabetic ketoacidosis. For the result of ketone test, the NHS gives the following numbers in mmol/L (if you happen to measure ketones in mg/dL, then you can use this converter):
0.6 mmol/L or under = healthy reading
0.6 – 1.5 mmol/L = slight risk of diabetic ketoacidosis; re-test in about two hours
1.6 – 2.9 mmol/L = at risk of diabetic ketoacidosis; contact your medical team as soon as possible
3.0 mmol/L = very high risk of diabetic ketoacidosis; seek help immediately
How to Reduce Blood Sugar Level Immediately: Insulin
The severity of the hyperglycemia determines how to act. In cases of insulin-dependent diabetes, most people will probably use rapid-acting insulin. The name is a giveaway: this is how to reduce blood sugar level immediately.
Hopefully, using insulin will allow you to get back to normal blood sugar levels before it gets too severe. This will also be the best way to be in control; you can lower your blood sugar with more accurate numbers.
This is where Hedia comes into play. Getting those numbers isn’t always so easy to figure out by yourself, especially not when dealing with the hassle of high blood sugar. Hedia can deal with that instead.
When using Hedia’s insulin calculator, all Hedia needs is: your blood sugar reading – this can even be added wirelessly and automatically with certain blood glucose monitors; what you’ve eaten recently – this can be added swiftly with Hedia’s food database; whether you’ve exercised recently or are about to exercise; and if you’ve taken insulin in the last 4 hours. Have a go at the App Store or Google Play!
After taking insulin, keep testing blood sugar levels to see how your blood sugar decreases. Then, just continue with your day!
Other Steps for how to Reduce Blood Sugar Level Immediately
While insulin is what will mainly help, there are certainly other methods that can be used in both severe and less so severe cases of hyperglycemia. Alternative methods are especially helpful for those with non-insulin-dependent diabetes.
In severe cases (when you’re at risk of diabetic ketoacidosis), it’s advisable for healthcare professionals to take care of you.
First, they will likely inject insulin to your veins (rather than the usual subcutaneous injection – into the layer of fat beneath the skin). In addition to this, they will rehydrate you with fluids, usually directly to your veins too. They will also give you nutrients at the same time, in the same manner.
This treatment gives some clues as to how to reduce blood sugar level immediately in less severe cases:
1) Stay hydrated; drink water. Since being thirsty is a symptom of hyperglycemia, you’ll probably want to be drinking plenty of water anyway. This helps with flushing out excess glucose.
2) Stay nourished. This is less straightforward, since eating food can often lead to even higher levels of blood glucose. But because you’ll be drinking a great deal of water (and urinating a great deal), you’ll also be flushing out nutrients at the same time.
So, it’s worth considering eating something nourishing after you’ve lowered your blood sugar. Or, if you want to keep up your nutrients during hyperglycemia, consider drinking fluids without carbs and with electrolytes.
Protein can also help stabilise blood sugar levels. If you’re hyperglycemic, you’ll want to eat something protein-rich but without carbs. For one example, meat like turkey or chicken will usually have no carbs.
Find out more nutritional info on specific food items with our food database.
3) Exercise (with caution). Does exercise lower blood sugar? Yes, as long as it’s aerobic exercise. Exercise that gets your heart-rate up over a longer period – for instance, a 15 minute jog – will increase insulin sensitivity, and lower blood sugar.
Be aware, though, that intense exercise will begin the body’s burning of fat. As we know, burning fat produces ketones – not ideal when trying to avoid ketoacidosis.
To avoid this, make sure your blood sugar is not above 250 mg/dL or 13.9 mmol/L; above this would be too dangerous for exercise. And do check ketone levels if exercising.
4) Relax. Perhaps the least relaxing thing is someone telling you to relax when you’re not relaxed. But relaxing does help! The combination of stress and diabetes can lead to high blood sugar. So, take a moment to breathe.
In Control of Blood Sugar
There you have it, you cool cats and kittens, that’s how to reduce blood sugar level immediately. Insulin is specifically designed to lower blood sugar; that is what will do the trick.
If you’re insulin-dependent, then insulin is the best medicine. Don’t fret, take insulin, be prepared to check ketones and then crack on with the day.
And in other cases, the four alternative methods to lower blood sugar will also help. Otherwise, bear them in mind, because they are still good tips for avoiding high blood sugar in the first place!