In my personal and professional experience, I have witnessed plenty of incidents of blood glucose when it’s too high (hyperglycemia): I am trained as a nurse, and specialised in diabetes, while my fiancé, Peter, has type 1 diabetes.
From this perspective, I realise how hard it can be to notice the effects of high blood glucose – both for others, and for the person with diabetes. But I also know that, with time, people with diabetes can learn how to pay attention to hyperglycemia.
I’ve seen how Peter – from his diagnosis up till now – has become more attentive to high blood glucose. Even though he still finds it tough to notice high blood glucose, he knows that if he listens to his body now, he will have better health in the future.
As with any issue that we need to learn about, we need to be given the correct tools to deal with a situation.
This is why I first want to give some of my tips on how to avoid high blood glucose in the first place. I will also share advice on how to notice hyperglycemia, along with some of my more personal advice.
My 7 tips for Avoiding high Blood Glucose
1) Let friends and family help. When dealing with diabetes, you don’t have to be alone in every part of managing it. Try letting friends or family help with noticing the symptoms of hyperglycemia.
Consider giving your friends a quick rundown on how to manage type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. They don’t need to be experts but it might give you a great peace of mind knowing that you’re not the only one who has to keep an eye out for high blood glucose.
Letting friends and family help can give your loved ones a great peace of mind too! When Peter has opened up to me, I know that this has helped me not to stress about his condition.
Loved ones might feel even more nervous about the condition if they don’t completely understand it, because they don’t feel the diabetes in their own body – it can be difficult for them to know what to do.
So, help your friends and family to help you with high blood glucose by being open with them.
2) Check blood glucose regularly. This is something healthcare professionals have probably told you many times already, and that’s because it’s probably one of the most important parts of dealing with high blood glucose.
You might not always be able to notice if your blood glucose is getting high, but a blood glucose monitor definitely will know.
3) Be reminded. Ok, so checking blood glucose regularly might be easier said than done. Let Hedia do some of the work by giving you reminders.
You can choose to let Hedia send notifications to remeasure blood glucose: after you’ve entered your current blood glucose level, Hedia is automatically set to notify you after 1.5 hours (based on how rapid-acting insulin works, in order to avoid high blood glucose).
You can also edit the number of hours in settings, if you prefer to be reminded at a different time.
Additionally, you can choose to have a daily “Medicine reminder”, for a time of day of your choosing. This was developed with long-acting insulin in mind. So, keep blood glucose stable by remembering long-acting insulin. Alternatively, if you take pills, use this as a reminder for them.
4) Get tips from this blog. Hedia’s blog is all about giving tips to make life with diabetes easier. You’ll find many different topics about high blood glucose, but the posts How to Reduce Blood Sugar Level Immediately and How to keep Blood Sugar Stable will be particularly useful.
5) Exercise carefully. You might be asking yourself “does exercise lower blood sugar?” The answer is yes – as long as it’s aerobic exercise.
Since exercise promotes insulin sensitivity, you should find that regular exercise will help keep your blood glucose from going too high.
If you work out how your body responds to exercise, you can also figure out how it will help keep blood glucose stable.
Do be aware, though, that exercise can raise ketone levels (and blood glucose levels if doing anaerobic exercise). Check your blood glucose before exercising, and, if it’s high, (250 mg/dL / 13.9 mmol/L or higher) postpone your exercise and check your ketones.
6) Stretch out and chill out. Similar to exercise, stretching and relaxing will help keep blood glucose levels in place. When you have stress and diabetes, this will contribute to high blood glucose.
So, make sure to give yourself time to relax – you could even incorporate it into your exercise, such as yoga. Progressive muscle relaxation is another great technique. This involves tensing each muscle individually, and then relaxing it.
7) Don’t fight the stress. If you do have difficulties with relaxing, it’s hard to simply stop being stressed. If it were that easy, then stress wouldn’t exist.
Fighting the stress can have the opposite effect because then you become stressed about not being able to stop stressing! This, in turn, can lead to even higher blood glucose.
Take time to learn how to be accepting of what you’re feeling; listen to your body. This leads me onto my next section…
How to Listen to your body
It is important to listen to your body, and pay attention to what it’s trying to tell you. Of course, there are the symptoms of hyperglycemia, which are:
- Being thirsty
- Urinating frequently
- Difficulty with concentrating
- Blurry vision
- Losing weight (if the hyperglycemia is over a longer period)
Keep these symptoms at the back of your mind. But what if you know the symptoms, and you still have difficulty noticing when you have high blood glucose?
Give yourself a moment to simply stop whatever you are doing, and take a breath. Then think about what you are feeling. Diabetes Australia has some great tips for this, such as recognising what you are feeling and saying it out loud. Alternatively, thank your body for protecting you.
If you do then notice that you might have high blood glucose, Diabetes Australia suggests telling yourself that this feeling will pass. Take the steps to treat your high blood glucose, and try to carry on with your day, while remembering that it is only a temporary feeling.
Not having diabetes myself, you may feel that it’s all too easy for me to tell others how to deal with their diabetes. Well, you’re right – it’s your diabetes, and, ultimately, you know your body best.
But this outsider’s perspective has also allowed me to pick up on other people’s ways to control high blood glucose, which is why I feel like I’m in a position to give the 7 tips above.
This perspective also allows me to have a more practical approach. For me, I see high blood glucose as a kind of numbers game: you see what number your blood glucose is, and – if you’re insulin-dependent – you then calculate how much insulin you need. It’s mathematics!
Of course, this view doesn’t take the psychological side into account. But sometimes, it’s helpful to think of your diabetes in terms of hard numbers, to avoid being overwhelmed by the psychological side.
When your hyperglycemia can be resolved by taking insulin, your situation can be helped by dealing with the numbers. This is how Hedia helps you. Hedia’s insulin calculator does the maths for you, so you can just take your insulin, and move on with life.
My final piece of advice would be: feel confident in your abilities to deal with high blood glucose. Having high blood glucose is not a reflection of poor diabetes management. Sometimes, it can come out of nowhere, for no clear reason.
If you need assurance on how your diabetes is going, then use Hedia’s diabetes dashboard, which displays your blood glucose readings throughout the day. You are in control, and Hedia maps it out for you.
It’s not just mapped out on the app: you can get a partial or full report of your whole Hedia logbook in PDF form. You can print this out, or send it to your healthcare professional. Use it to ask your healthcare professional for advice on high blood glucose, especially if you tend to be regularly hyperglycemic.
High Blood Glucose: a Numbers game – and more
While hyperglycemia might be a mathematical matter, there is clearly a great deal more that comes with it. People deal with high blood glucose in their own ways. I’m not here to tell you that you’re doing it wrong, but I do know what can help.
I hope that some of these tips can be added to your toolbox for dealing with high blood glucose. I especially hope that you can find a use in Hedia – just as how I see Peter does every day.
And remember – just breathe. You’ve got this.