An hour or so after lunch, you start to get a bit of a headache and are having a hard time concentrating. As someone with diabetes, you decide to check your blood sugar to see if it is out of range. Lo and behold, it’s much higher than it should be. Maybe it was that dessert split with your coworker that made it spike? You can’t take more medication because you have already taken your prescribed dose for the day. You also know the dangers and complications related uncontrolled high blood sugar, so you need to know how to lower blood sugar immediately. So what do you do?
What is High Blood Sugar?
First, it’s important to know what your blood sugar should be. This will allow you to make an appropriate decision on what to do next to lower blood sugar immediately. Of course, you should always discuss your individualised goals with your doctor. Below is what the American Diabetes Association recommends as ideal blood sugar numbers for people with diabetes:
Fasting: 80-130 mg/dL (4.4-7.2 mmol/L)
2 hours after meals: less than 180 mg/dL (10 mmol/L)
If You’re Living in Singapore…
MOH guidelines mention the ideal range is:
Fasting: 4.0-7.0 mmol/L
2 hours after meals: less than 10 mmol/L
If your blood sugar is over 350 mg/dL (19.4 mmol/L) and you are experiencing symptoms such as blurred vision, extreme thirst, lightheadedness, restlessness, or drowsiness, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Let’s say your blood glucose is not critical, but higher than you would like it to be, what should you do next?
Drinking enough water may help reduce the risk of getting high blood sugar levels. If you see your blood glucose is high, drink at least 500ml of water. This might help flush out some of the sugar through the kidneys. Try to stay hydrated all the time, so aim for around 8-10 glasses of water a day.
A little exercise can help lower blood sugar by encouraging the body’s cells to take in excess glucose. When you exercise, the muscle cells begin to use up glucose as energy. This causes them to take in more glucose, removing it from the blood stream, making your blood sugar go down. Exercise is one of the best ways to lower blood sugar immediately. Just a 15-20 minute walk can help lower your blood sugar. But, remember, exercise should be a part of your daily life, not just when you overdid it on dessert.
A few words of caution with exercising, if you are feeling lightheaded or dizzy, don’t push yourself too hard. If it is very hot, try to exercise indoors if you can. Be sure to drink plenty of water while exercising. Water will help bring your blood sugar down and keep you hydrated.
If you feel hungry, eat some protein or fat
Sometimes, when our blood sugar is high, our cells are not getting the food they need and we still feel hungry. It is important at this time to not eat more carbohydrates, which will only raise blood sugar even higher. If you feel hungry, eat some protein or healthy fat, which can help stabilise blood glucose. Try an ounce (30g, or a thumb-size) of cheese or a few slices of chicken or turkey to help curb your hunger a bit.
Cinnamon has been shown in many clinical studies to help lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. However, results have been mixed and its use in diabetes is controversial. Although much of the current research on cinnamon and blood sugar is long-term, it doesn’t hurt to try to use it in the short-term also to help lower a high blood sugar. There needs to be further evidence to determine exact dosages for cinnamon and determine, but as a food or tea is considered safe with no real side effects. If your blood sugar is high, consider drinking an unsweetened cup of cinnamon tea (or even add a dash of cinnamon to black tea) which may help lower your numbers.
Green tea has also been shown to help improve glucose metabolism, increase insulin sensitivity, and possibly reduce some of the damaging effects of high blood sugar. Drinking a cup of green tea also promotes relaxation, so enjoy some tea to help relax and possibly bring down your numbers.
Stress can increase blood sugar. When you are stressed, your body prepares to “fight or flight” signaling the liver and muscles to release any stored blood sugar, elevating levels. So, relaxation can help bring blood sugar back to normal. Try a little mediation, listen to some relaxing music, or just take a few deep breaths to help you relax.
How to Lower Blood Sugar Immediately Without Medication
Several of these options can work to get blood sugar immediately without medication in the short-term without additional medication. These solutions are meant to be implemented on days when life just doesn’t go as planned, maybe you eat something you weren’t supposed to or forget to take your medicine. But, if you are correctly managing your blood sugar you should not need to be constantly chasing highs and lows. With the correct combination of healthy lifestyle choices and medication, you can maintain a stable blood sugar level most of the time. Additionally, checking your levels frequently and keeping a log of your numbers, can help you learn how your body reacts to stress, food, exercise, and whatever life throws your way.