Perplexing and Unexplained Blood Sugar Level Fluctuations

Attaining normal glucose levels is like a pilgrimage for every person with diabetes. But like the stock market or a rollercoaster ride, blood sugar levels never remain the same and have an uncanny knack of fluctuating throughout the day.

Fasting sugar levels are different from postprandial levels and added to that, people with diabetes tend to have unexplained blood sugar level fluctuations leading to unnecessary low sugar levels (hypoglycemia) and high sugar levels (hyperglycemia).

For many diabetics, this is perplexing and disappointing.Despite all the efforts, their sugar levels never seem to stay put at a single level!

It is a fact that even in non-diabetic people, blood sugar levels fluctuate throughout the day. Factors affecting the fluctuation of blood sugar levels include diet (what you eat, how much you eat,&time since last meal),your activity levels, stress, diseases, illness, infection, changing seasons, and a variety of reasons can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

Normal Blood Sugar Fluctuation Range

In non-diabetic people, the fluctuations of blood sugar levels are narrow despite long hours of fasting or after feasting. This is because of their metabolic hemostasis that allows them to maintain balance and equilibrium.

In experiments where a 24-hour continuous measurement of glucose concentration of healthy subjects was conducted, it was found that there were indeed fluctuations. The blood sugar levels were high after meals at around 118 after lunch and dinner, and after breakfast it was highest around 132.4. The values in the rest of the day and the nighttime were around 93 and 81.8.

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Unexplained Fluctuations in Blood Sugar Levels

The most disturbing aspect a person with diabetes can have is unexplained fluctuation of blood sugar levels.Though glucose level in blood is not constant,it might be baffling for a diabetic to have blood sugar fluctuations despite taking medications and following dietary guidelines.

However, if you are having such a rollercoaster of extreme blood sugar levels with lows and highs, it might cause diabetes complications. So, in order to avoid unnecessary complications, it is essential to first unravel the mystery of unexplained fluctuations in the blood sugar levels.

Unusual fluctuations in blood sugar levels might occur due to a variety of reasons as blood sugar levels depend on numerous factors. So, you may be feeling irritated, have uncontrollable temper, feel lack of focus, foggy, depressed, and lack energy along with a host of symptoms when your blood sugar levels vary.

So, here are a few surprising reasons that cause blood sugar level fluctuations:
• Artificial Sweeteners.
• Dehydration.
• Household chores.
• Infections like cold and flu.
• Antidepressants, corticosteroids, diuretics,& nasal decongestants.
• Lack of sleep and irregular sleep patterns.
• Travel in different time zones.
• Coffee, tea, energy drinks,& sodas.
• Menopause (hormonal fluctuations).
• Periods (hormonal fluctuations).
• Stress and tension.
• Probiotics like yogurt.
• Excessive workouts.
• Consumptions of alcohol.
• Contraceptives.
• Seasonal changes.

How to control unexplained fluctuations of blood sugar levels

Apart from the reasons mentioned above, most people suffer from unexplained spikes and falls in blood sugar levels as they do not understand how much carbohydrates they have to consume. Excessive carbohydrate consumption leads to high blood sugar level and improper intake of it with respect to the medication might cause low blood sugar symptoms.

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Do the Math! Count those carbs!

These are times when we are busy even to cook a square meal. And, we never miss out on an opportunity to eat out. When asked how you like your eggs, we would most likely answer “in a cake!” In short, we indulge.

And, high intake of unhealthy carbohydrates is one of the main culprits for uncontrolled blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

In people with types of diabetes (both type 1 and type 2), the mechanism of the pancreas is impaired and their metabolism is different. Any miscalculation of carbohydrate intake can lead to large swings in the blood sugar values.

Carbohydrates are one of the sources of nutrients apart from proteins and fats.They are macronutrients and are made of simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates contain sugars like fructose, galactose, sucrose, and lactose. These are found in fruits and milk products and give immediate energy bursts.


Simple carbohydrates are also contained in sodas, fast foods, and candy. These are made from processed and refined sugars. These have no minerals or vitamins and are mere empty calories that lead to high blood sugars.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates contain more than one sugar. They are found in foods like beans, whole grains, peas, and vegetables. They contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which is good for digestion.

What Carbohydrates to Consume?

It is very important for people with diabetes to follow a diet plan for diabetes.For a large extent, this constitutes carbohydrate counting. People with diabetes should consumehealthy carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and dietary fiber.
Carbohydrate counting can be effectively done with the help of a Diabetes Educator or a Clinical Nutritionist.

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Other techniques to manage blood sugar level variations:

• Reduce weight.
• Get stress management.
• Talk to your doctor about other medications you are using.
• Get adequate sleep.
• Reduce the intake of caffeine and substitute it with lemonade or something else.
• Consult your doctor before traveling overseas or before a season change.
People might have high blood sugar in certain unusual circumstances. Insulin-dependent patients, in some cases suffer from scarring and fat formation. This happens if a patient injects insulin repeatedly at a single site. Due to this, there might be delayed absorption of insulin leading to high sugar levels.Later on, after the insulin is absorbed, the blood sugar level might go low. These patients have to change the site of the insulin injection.

Some diabetics have high sugar levels due to kidney diseases, and thyroid and adrenal disorders. Others might have increased sugar levels due to an issue with their injections, and insulin pumps.

It is to be noted that people who have persistent and unexplained hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) should consult an Endocrinologist for further evaluation. A thorough lab work is warranted along with a relook at the medications prescribed. Pituitary and adrenal evaluation might be required.

For better management of blood sugar levels consult our Diabetes Clinics near by or call our toll free number: 18001031010

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About the Author: Tung Chi