What May Be Behind Unexpectedly High Blood Sugar

Even when you are eating right and exercising regularly your glucose levels can sometimes elevate unexpectedly.

The culprit may be the hormones (other than insulin) manufactured by our body to regulate the activity of specific organs and cells. Hormones are bossy substances, exerting influence on our digestive, metabolic, reproductive, growth, and mood functions.

When emotional stress, illness, surgery, or developmental stages trigger changes in these hormones, blood sugar levels may be affected as well:

  • As the body is stressed it readies for action by making sure there is enough energy (glucose) available. Our insulin levels drop while glucagon and adrenaline (epinephrine) levels elevate to ensure the liver releases more glucose. Simultaneously, growth hormone and cortisol amounts increase, making our muscle and fat tissues less sensitive to insulin.
  • Children’s insulin requirements increase as they grow, especially during puberty. This is caused by fluctuations in the body’s stew of growth and sex hormones. Growth hormone particularly can cause fat and muscle cells to resist the action of insulin. The body compensates for this by producing more insulin in non-diabetic kids, but those with type 1 diabetes may require significant insulin dose adjustments.
  • Sex hormones, by causing temporary insulin resistance, may instigate hyperglycemia in some girls and women with diabetes. Three to five days before starting their period many of them notice increased blood sugar levels. Some continue to have elevated glucose after menstruation begins, while others observe a quick decline. During menopause, women frequently report having less predictable blood sugar numbers.

By frequently monitoring and logging glucose values, you will be become aware of recurring glucose fluctuations owed to periodic hormonal changes, and can adjust your diabetes management accordingly. Your doctor or diabetes educator can help you plan for the stress effects brought on by illness, or surgery.

Source: Diabetes Ed Online; Mayo Clinic
Photo credit: Mike Mozart

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