Q&A: How to Lower your Blood Sugar when it's Over 200 mg/dl

| Nov 1, 1992

Q: How do I lower my blood sugar when it goes over 200 mg/dl? I have Type 2 diabetes.

A: An excellent question, but a complicated one to answer. Your doctor or nurse educator should be contacted any time your blood sugar runs consistently higher than 250 mg/dl for more than two days. When a person with Type 2 diabetes encounters a high blood sugar, the strategy used in bringing it down will vary from individual to individual. This is because of the differences in treatment concerning diet, exercise, and medication. It will also depend upon the guidelines for glucose control that you and your doctor have mutually agreed upon.

When high blood sugars do occur, there are a number of strategies that can be employed to adjust the glucose level back down to a normal range. These might include:

1) Eating less food at the next meal, eliminating a snack and/or eating foods with a lower glycemic index.

A general rule of thumb to follow is decreasing 15 grams of carbohydrate (the amount found in one starch exchange, one fruit exchange, or one cup skim milk exchange) will lower blood glucose by 30 mg/dl. If you test your blood sugar at 182 mg/dl before a meal or snack, then eliminate one starch and one cup milk at the next meal to bring the glucose value as close to 120 mg/dl as a baseline. Although people with diabetes will respond differently to this adjustment, it provides a basic guideline to start with.

For persons with Type 2 diabetes who are overweight, the loss of only 5% to 10% of total weight loss can dramatically improve blood glucose values (so just cutting calories moderately can achieve better blood glucose control).
Lastly, choosing foods with a lower glycemic index, i.e., foods that do not raise blood sugar as quickly or dramatically, can help to bring blood glucose back into a normal range. To test the glycemic effect of a food on your system, you will need to do more frequent monitoring. For example, you may want to compare the effect of brown rice versus baked potato by eating equivalent carbohydrate amounts of these foods at dinner and comparing your blood glucose response two hours later. Some examples of foods with a low glycemic index are dried beans and lentils. The exact effect will vary from person to person.

2) Increasing activity or incorporating more exercise.

Persons with Type 2 diabetes generally respond quite favorably to increased exercise with a lowered blood glucose value. Simple exercise, such as walking 20 minutes or more per day, can effectively improve glucose tolerance and induce weight loss. Proper exercise can actually be effective enough to lower or completely eliminate the need for medication altogether.

3) Increasing, changing medications, and/or administering them more frequently.

Although this is certainly an option, it makes more sense to address this problem of elevated blood glucose by exercise and cutting back on food. These are measures that are less costly and have fewer side-effects, but if they aren't effective, a medication change may be indicated. If you are on the minimal dose of oral agents, your doctor might raise the dose or split it into morning and evening doses.

This could also be true of those using insulin. Taking more shots per day does not mean your diabetes is worse. It may even bring more flexibility into your lifestyle. In fact, a rule of thumb for those on insulin (check with your doctor first before making these adjustments) is to take one unit of regular insulin to lower blood glucose 30 mg/dl. If the blood sugar is 191 mg/dl before a meal, an extra three units of insulin will bring the glucose down about 100 mg/dl. It is important to note that this rule may change for people who exercise regularly (it will take less insulin to achieve the desired effect) or for those who become ill (they are more insulin resistant and may need more insulin to achieve the desired effect). The effectiveness of insulin is dramatically decreased also by high blood sugar levels.

4) Relaxation techniques and behavioral management.

Relaxation exercises, including deep breathing and audio tapes that guide you through deep muscle relaxation, can reduce stress and help you deal more effectively with it. There are tapes available specifically designed to create images of healthiness in diabetic individuals and encourage visualization of improved glucose control. Behavioral management techniques also improve an overall sense of control of one's life and self-efficacy, so that diabetes becomes a state of "wellness in the midst of illness." When relaxed and in control, blood glucose values can improve.

5) Treating identified illness and/or infections.

Illness and infection causes a rise in adrenergic hormones which increase the production of glucose in the body. This extra surge of glucose is part of the healing process, but can upset glucose control. Thus, continuing to take medications despite poor appetite is vital. You may temporarily require more medication during periods of extended illness. Ask your doctor for instructions on dealing with illness.

6) Monitoring on a more frequent basis and/or monitoring other parameters.

When blood glucose values exceed the target ranges established by you and your doctor, monitoring should be done every two hours until the blood glucose returns to normal. This gives you an opportunity to treat and adjust blood glucose as soon as possible, rather than waiting until your next doctor visit or next meal (which might be four or five hours later). It also tells you whether or not what you are doing is helping to bring the blood glucose down. Other parameters would include ketone checks (done by urine dip stick or via a fingerstick to measure betahydroxybutyrate, an acid) if your blood sugar is over 250 mg/dl. Testing ketones hourly until they disappear is recommended.

7) Increasing consumption of sugar-free fluids.

Often, the poor hydration of some individuals will account for the concentration of sugar in the blood. All people (with diabetes or not) should drink two to three quarts of sugar-free fluids per day. When glucose is elevated, drinking helps to dilute it. Also, drinking fluids is filling, decreasing the possibility of overeating.

People with heart disease who take diuretics and those with renal (kidney) complications may need to be on restricted fluids. Check with your doctor and/or dietitian if you fall into these special categories.

To combat high blood sugars, the most important strategy is prevention. Prevention of high blood sugars is usually possible with frequent and consistent monitoring. If you have awareness of your usual glucose response patterns to foods and exercise, it will be easier to plan out your day and prevent fluctuations in your blood sugar.

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Categories: Blood Glucose, Blood Sugar, Diabetes, Food, Insulin, Losing weight, Type 2 Issues

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Posted by Anonymous on 29 December 2007

what about type 1?

Posted by Anonymous on 10 January 2008

very informative information

Posted by Anonymous on 29 January 2008

my mom's blood sugar level has been over 200 for the past six months. She has fibro-myalgia ,thyroid problems among a host of other problems. She takes alot of medication. What should she do?

Posted by Anonymous on 5 February 2008

this article helps alots of people who reads this is a very help ful thanxxx

Posted by Anonymous on 4 April 2008

This information did not address disable people who can not be more active unfortunately. I am one of this with sugar over 20 in my blood, and what I can do? I have lost weight, watch over bite before is going to my stomach, use long lasting insulin and rapid and what to do?

Posted by Anonymous on 28 April 2008

Apple cidar vinager is the answer fpr every thing 2 spoons with water, try please and make aresearch on google to find is a mirecle

Posted by Anonymous on 24 May 2008

I know this sounds weird, but if my sugar is too high when I test 2 hours after a meal, I eat peanuts or an apple... something about the fiber (and they are both low gi) helps to bring my sugar back down to a number I don't faint over!!

Posted by Anonymous on 22 December 2008

This is very common information and completely unhelpful!

Posted by Anonymous on 5 January 2009

most informative yet;rather worded very well. Basically there is not much one can do except wait, not eat something, or exercise.
You CAN exercise when you are disabled even in quadrapledgia as you generally have someone with you ( I know this for fact)but who wants to exercise at 2 in the morning? You can skip a drink or snack, easy enough, it is not THAT long of a wait, or you can do the meds. and be sure to speak with your doc if you have not already done so. YUCK to all options lol! But my question was answered and now I know what to do. Thank you very much.

Posted by Anonymous on 8 January 2010

I have just been diagnosed as borderline diabetic and I do not understand what the term "exchange" menas in this context. I know it means to trade one thing for another but not what it means in the context and reference to diabetes. If someone knows a link or site I can visit for simple explanations to this I would so appreciate it. My e-mail is greylady85@hotmail.com
If you can assist me I really appreciate it since I am new to this and the terminologies are like a foreign language to me. When I ask my health care personnel I get sent to something that shows exchanges but does not explain just what is is and how to determine the use of the charts. Help!

Posted by Anonymous on 10 January 2010

Loss of control seems to be the norm...can't get a grip on lowering the sugar. Someone mentioned "apple cider vinegar".Will that quickly lower your sugar level?


Posted by Anonymous on 12 April 2010

I find this article helpful. But I do not find it practical for me or I would presume for many others. My blood sugar ranges from 240-290ish every day. I am on a very restricted diet of no whites, little fruit. no direct sugars to speak of. I am 6' and weight about 194. I walk at least one mile a day. My blood sugar is always highest in the morning. As of today I have not found a doctor who can help. The suggestion is always more drugs to try and combinations of drugs, that do not work for me but certainly upset my digestion system. No one can explain to me that my body can lower my blood sugar from 400+ to 275 on it's own in one day, but I cannot get it below 200ish even if I eat nothing.

I believe the solution is something to due with more electrical response that anything else and some type of missing nutrition. On my website/ blog I am trying to also evaluate this as well as suggest many other areas of new thinking regarding health. (www.linkedintohealth.com). If anyone has any suggestions let's hear them... Thanks!

Tim Veach
Huntley IL

Posted by Anonymous on 9 April 2011

I have type 2 diabetes and have been eating only raw fruits and veggies for 3 weeks now, my blood sugar used to be close to 300, the medicines I've tried never really worked, I exercize, but nothing was working...until raw foods. My blood sugar has not been over 145 after the first week and a half! Yesterday's fasting level was 117! It really works! But does take a lot of will power. I'm hoping to include more healthful foods such as bison and whole grains like quinoa after I've been eating only raw for a month. Thebest thing is you can eat ALL you want! And no cooking!

Posted by Anonymous on 12 June 2014

I have type 2 diabetes and my sugar is 349 how can i bring it down quick.

Posted by Anonymous on 9 October 2014

Thank you for the information. This is the first site I have found that gives suggestions to lower blood sugar. Most simply point you to your doctor. I have on two occasions increased a dose of insulin by a couple notches, and once gave myself a second dose of insulin in the evening. I never knew I was helping myself or doing harm. As of this AM I'm trying using a different injection site -- my upper arm rather than my abdomen.

Posted by Anonymous on 8 November 2014

Thank you to everyone who posted. Its great to hear stories from others. I was diagnosed with Type 2 this week. I've done a lot of reading and plan to eat raw foods and protein as a large staple of my diet. I already walk 2 miles a day but plan to add some resistance training into the mix. My glucose level at first test was 419. Over the past few days I've continued to see my numbers drop as I've tested. I'm still experimenting with my diet but the good news is I'm hovering around 200 over my last few tests. I had lamb and couscous (for the first time yesterday) and my levels actually registered under 200. My lowest so far is 179 so I'm in a positive mindset and determined to manage my blood sugar so I can live a long, happy life.

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