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Tracking Diabetes: Dealing with Glucose Highs and Lows

  When your blood glucose levels are too high or too low, you just don’t feel good. And, if levels get too far out of control, you could be facing a serious medical emergency. If you feel like your levels aren’t right, check them right away. Then, if you need to, take action. Your diabetes care team will help you to develop a specific action plan to follow when your readings are too high or too low.

Here are some general guidelines:

How to Manage a High
If your blood glucose levels are 240 mg/dl or higher, you need to get them down as soon as possible. There are several different ways to do this, depending on whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, what your general health is, and other factors.

If your blood glucose levels stay high, you need to ask your diabetes care team what you should do. It’s important to seek advice on this as soon as you can.

How to Manage a Low
Low blood glucose levels, known as hypoglycemia, can be very dangerous. If not corrected quickly, low blood glucose can make you lose consciousness. If that happens, you will need emergency medical treatment.

Early symptoms of low blood glucose levels include dizziness, sweating, faintness and headaches, hunger and irritability. If you’re experiencing these or any other unusual symptoms, check your blood glucose levels right away.

If your blood glucose level is below 70 or you have symptoms, treatment is necessary! Treatment includes eating or drinking something containing sugar. Three to four glucose tablets, two tablespoons of raisins, four teaspoons of sugar, 10 jellybeans, or a small glass of fruit juice or regular (not diet!) soda should do the trick. Never treat low blood sugar with chocolate because it doesn’t get sugar into your system fast enough. If you are taking either Glyset or Precose, you need to use glucose tablets to treat low blood sugar.

If symptoms don’t go away in 15 to 20 minutes, or if your blood glucose remains low after that time, take another dose of sugar.

If blood glucose levels still remain low, or if you still feel sick and faint, have a family member or friend take you to the nearest emergency room. Or, call 911 for help.

You need to always carry a source of sugar with you. Keep one in your purse or wallet, in your car and beside your bed. Ask your diabetes care team what foods or food supplements you should keep with you to prevent hypoglycemia. Your doctor may prescribe a Glucagon emergency kit. This is a kit which contains an injection your family or friends can give you if you become unconscious from low blood sugar.

Sick Day Plan
Because illness can raise glucose levels, it’s important to be prepared. Ask your diabetes care team what to do when you become ill. You need to have a detailed plan ready for sick days. You also need to make sure you stock up on food, medications, test strips and anything else you’ll need if you get sick. That way, you won’t have to make emergency plans or scramble for supplies when you come down with a cold or the flu.

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