By Diane Hwang
Let’s talk about how your blood sugar level values may fluctuate throughout your day-to-day life. Not every change will mean you need to worry or completely ignore it. There are many reasons why your levels may fluctuate, also called dysglycemia, so grab your blood sugar level monitor and let’s dig in.
What Is Dysglycemia?
Simply put, dysglycemia is a broad term that refers to any abnormality in your blood sugar levels. It can include both hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
Your blood sugar is regulated through insulin, which is a hormone your pancreas produces. This hormone helps tissues in your body translate glucose (sugar) in your food into energy. Symptoms of fluctuating blood sugar will vary but are related to high or low glucose.
Excess glucose is stored in your liver as glycogen. When your blood sugar drops, your liver breaks that glycogen into glucose, releasing it into your bloodstream to try and maintain relatively stable blood sugar levels.
In folks with dysglycemia, this system is a bit faulty. It leads to unstable blood sugar level values throughout the day. That’s where watching for common symptoms comes in.
What Are the Common Symptoms of Fluctuating Blood Sugar?
The symptoms will vary based on whether your blood sugar levels are too high or too low.
Hyperglycemia (levels too high)
These symptoms will develop gradually and get worse the longer your blood sugar is elevated. Check your levels frequently with your blood sugar level monitor to help avoid hyperglycemia if you notice any of these symptoms:
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Nausea or vomiting
Because these issues can be caused by other things as well, like having the flu, it’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels closely. The readings will tell you whether the symptoms are of fluctuating blood sugar or something else.
When high blood sugar goes untreated, it can lead to a coma, so staying on top of your symptoms is vital.
Hypoglycemia (levels too low)
When your blood sugar level values are too low, it can cause the following symptoms:
- Heart palpitations
Again, these symptoms can be caused by other issues, so keep your blood sugar level monitor nearby if you’re experiencing anything like the above. When left untreated, hypoglycemia can also cause you to slur your words, seizures, and loss of consciousness.
When Do You Need to Worry About Symptoms of Fluctuating Blood Sugar?
When caught early, blood sugar that’s too high or too low can be treated (see below) and is not a big cause for concern.
However, if you’re not able to utilize the below treatments and/or your blood sugar level values have been out of balance for a long time (hours or even days), it’s time to get to the doctor. As stated above, high blood sugar can lead to coma and low blood sugar can cause seizures. Don’t mess around with these consequences!
How Do You Treat Dysglycemia?
Immediate treatments for high and low blood sugar levels may include:
- Consuming fast-acting carbohydrates like fruit juice, candy, or your glucose tablets. Severe symptoms of fluctuating blood sugar may require a glucagon injection.
- Fluid or electrolyte replacement. Fluids and electrolytes can help dilute the sugar in your blood, replace fluid you’ve lost due to frequent urination, and replace lost electrolytes that your body needs to function properly.
- Insulin therapy. With hyperglycemia, insulin therapy can help return your levels to normal (usually in conjunction with fluids and electrolytes).
Of course, the best treatment for extreme fluctuations is to prevent them in the first place.
How Can I Help Prevent Dysglycemia?
Keep a close eye on your diet, exercise regularly, and use your blood sugar level monitor frequently throughout the day to help avoid unpleasant symptoms of fluctuating blood sugar.
Consume a diet rich in vegetables, fiber, and protein. Avoid sugary and processed foods, including simple carbohydrates like white bread.
Instead, opt for complex carbs made from whole grains. These have a far more minimal effect on blood sugar levels. Choose whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, etc. for your carbs.
Also, keep nuts or slices of low-fat cheese handy for easy, high-protein snacks. Keep in mind these are not low-calorie foods, so be mindful of your serving sizes.
Regular exercise is an important part of reducing the symptoms of fluctuating blood sugar. Physical activity improves your cells’ sensitivity to insulin, helping keep your blood sugar level values more stable.
Blood Sugar Level Monitor
With the above two tips, you should be well on your way to reducing your blood sugar fluctuations. However, it’s always a good idea to keep your monitor nearby to track your levels. It’s a specific, data-driven way to know if you need to snack on something or potentially take your insulin.
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