Suddenly finding yourself with high blood sugar can be a stressful situation, especially when you don’t know what to do when blood sugar is high. Instead of panicking, have a strategy to reduce your blood sugar quickly and learn what to do when you can’t safely lower it on your own.
If you need tips on how to reduce blood sugar levels immediately, this article is for you.
Blood Sugar Levels and Hyperglycemia
In order to know if your blood sugar is low, this starts with testing and knowing what your target blood sugar should be. Our DigiVibe device makes the finger pricks involved with testing pain-free. Learn how it works.
Normal blood sugar ranges differ for people with and without diabetes. For people without diabetes, normal fasting blood sugar ranges are between 70-100 mg/dL and <140 mg/dL post-meal (2 hours). The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that people with diabetes maintain a fasting blood sugar between 80-130 mg/dL and a post-meal (2 hours) blood sugar <180 mg/dL.
When blood sugar is above these recommended values, a person has hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia most often occurs when the body either does not produce enough insulin or the insulin produced is not as effective at lowering blood sugar.
Common symptoms of hyperglycemia can include frequent urination, blurred vision, increased thirst, dry mouth, increased appetite, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, nausea, and weight loss.
If high blood sugars are not regulated and occur frequently, it can lead to long-term complications, including nerve damage, diabetic retinopathy and blindness, kidney damage, increased infection risk, and cardiovascular disease.
How to Reduce Blood Sugar Level Immediately
Though people may try to give different suggestions on how to lower blood sugar quickly, two methods are known for their effectiveness.
The information contained in this article is not emergency advice. If you or someone you know has a medical emergency due to elevated blood sugar, please seek immediate medical care by calling emergency services like 911 or going to the emergency department.
A 2018 review examined the benefits of exercise for post-meal blood sugar in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that while both aerobic and resistance exercise was effective at lowering blood sugar, aerobic exercise had the greatest benefit. In particular, doing moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for longer than 45 minutes was found to have the most consistent effects.
Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise include dancing, playing tennis, riding a bike, fast walking, or gardening.
There is a caveat to the benefits of exercise to lower blood sugar fast. If your blood sugar is > 240mg/dL, check your urine for ketones. Exercising with elevated blood sugar and ketones present can actually increase your blood sugar further.
Take Diabetes Medications
Some people may experience hyperglycemia because of a missed medication or insufficient insulin injection with meals. Take skipped medications as soon as possible to lower blood sugar fast. Avoid taking double doses of medications to avoid low blood sugar, and closely monitor your sugars.
If you take insulin, your doctor or healthcare provider may have calculated a correction insulin bolus for you. A correction bolus is a dose of rapid-acting insulin that is taken either before a meal or while fasting to lower blood sugar.
Speak with your provider about the appropriate insulin correction dose to use for managing high blood sugars in certain situations. Using too much insulin, especially outside of mealtimes, can increase the risk of hypoglycemia. Be sure to check your blood sugar 15-30 minutes after additional insulin boluses to confirm that your blood sugar is not dropping too low.
When to Seek Medical Attention
DKA happens more often in people with type 1 diabetes and is often characterized by blood sugar >250 mg/dL, low arterial pH, low serum bicarbonate, and urinary ketones. Symptoms of DKA include fruity-smelling breath, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, muscle stiffness, a flushed face, rapid breathing, and other hyperglycemia symptoms.
HHS is more common in type 2 diabetes and is characterized by blood sugars > 600 mg/dL, dehydration, and a high concentration of glucose in the blood without ketosis. Symptoms of HHS include dry mouth, warm and dry skin, drowsiness, and other hyperglycemia symptoms.
Both, if not addressed in time, can lead to disorientation, diabetic comas, long-term cardiovascular issues, and even death. Contact your doctor if you have consistently elevated blood sugar levels. Perform first aid for diabetic emergencies and seek emergency care if there is a concern for DKA or HHS.
Preventing High Blood Sugar
A proactive approach to preventing high blood sugar is most beneficial in reducing blood glucose overall. Here’s how you can reduce your blood sugar naturally:
- Keep a Balanced Diet: While there aren’t foods that lower blood sugar instantly, meals balanced with complex carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fats, and fiber help regulate your blood sugar and reduce spikes.
- Regulate Your Eating Patterns: Choose smaller portions of carbohydrates and avoid skipping meals to maintain blood sugar
- Stay Hydrated: Studies find drinking water daily can lower your risk of hyperglycemia. Aim for 3 L of water for men and 2.2 L for women daily. Sugar-free drinks can also help you stay hydrated.
- Manage Stress: Stress is associated with high blood sugars. Take up calming activities like yoga, meditation, or low-stress hobbies to help with stress.
- Monitor Your Blood Sugar: Self-monitoring blood sugar with a glucose meter is effective for lowering blood sugar when done on a regular basis.
It is possible to lower your blood sugar with at-home remedies in certain cases. However, for more serious cases of hyperglycemia, medical care is best.
Prevention of hyperglycemia can be the most effective tool against high blood sugar. No matter what your blood sugar is, regularly checking your blood sugar is an essential tool in diabetes management.
Did you know DigiVibe is an affordable and compact device that eliminates the pain of finger pricks? To learn more about how easy it is to use DigiVibe, and how it can help you or a loved one, check out our patient and doctor reviews.
- American Diabetes Association Professional Practice Committee; 6. Glycemic Targets: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2022. Diabetes Care 1 January 2022; 45 (Supplement_1): S83–S96. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc22-S006 https://diabetesjournals.org/care/article/45/Supplement_1/S83/138927/6-Glycemic-Targets-Standards-of-Medical-Care-in
- Mouri M, Badireddy M. Hyperglycemia. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; April 28, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430900/
- Borror A, Zieff G, Battaglini C, Stoner L. The Effects of Postprandial Exercise on Glucose Control in Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review. Sports Med. 2018;48(6):1479-1491. doi:10.1007/s40279-018-0864-x https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29396781/
- Zaharieva DP, Riddell MC. Prevention of exercise-associated dysglycemia: a case study-based approach. Diabetes Spectr. 2015;28(1):55-62. doi:10.2337/diaspect.28.1.55 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334080/
- Eledrisi MS, Elzouki AN. Management of Diabetic Ketoacidosis in Adults: A Narrative Review. Saudi J Med Med Sci. 2020;8(3):165-173. doi:10.4103/sjmms.sjmms_478_19 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7485658/
- Pasquel FJ, Umpierrez GE. Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state: a historic review of the clinical presentation, diagnosis, and treatment. Diabetes Care. 2014;37(11):3124-3131. doi:10.2337/dc14-0984 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4207202/
- Roussel R, Fezeu L, Bouby N, et al. Low water intake and risk for new-onset hyperglycemia. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(12):2551-2554. doi:10.2337/dc11-0652 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3220834/