How to Lower Your Blood Glucose

One of the practices I always teach my clients is how to handle a high glucose reading. There are only two ways to lower glucose when it's too high: through medication and exercise.

But before making a decision about how to treat an instance of high glucose, you first must determine why the number is high. This is because, depending on the cause, the treatment may differ. You will often need to tailor your treatment to the particular cause.

What caused the high glucose?

High glucose levels can come from 

  • eating too much
  • forgetting to take diabetes medication
  • not getting enough physical activity
  • stress
  • sickness

When you have a high reading, think about what could have caused it, so that you can then figure out a treatment strategy. For example, if you are feeling really stressed, you might benefit from spending some time alone and doing some deep breathing to help you relax. Or, if you ate too much food, then going for a walk could be your treatment path to lower glucose. 

Treating the High Glucose

Once you know the reason for the high level, you can decide how to treat it. The fastest way to bring down a high is to use rapid-acting (mealtime) insulin. If you take this type of insulin, talk with your doctor and have a prearranged plan for how much insulin you should take.

If you don’t take insulin, then physical activity is the only other way to lower blood glucose. Exercise makes your body more sensitive to insulin. After exercise, insulin can help the muscles take up the excess glucose so that not so much of it stays in your blood but is instead used by your body.

Please remember, however, that exercise does not always lower a high glucose reading immediately--there can be a lag effect. That is, the glucose level can start to lower soon after you exercise, but then it might continue to decrease for up to the next 12 hours.

Note: If you have type 1 diabetes and your glucose is more than 250 mg/dl, check for urine ketones before exercising, and avoid exercise if ketones are present.

What To Do after You've Treated a Glucose High

After treating the high glucose

  • You must write down the reading in your glucose logbook, along with the reason for the high and the treatment you chose.
  • Check your glucose again in about two hours, to make sure the number is coming down.
  • Last, always have a prearranged plan with your doctor that tells you at what glucose level you should contact them.

Exercise . . . and a Plan

Remember that exercise should be a part of your regular diabetes treatment plan, and not just something that you use for treating highs. And, while it is important to know the reason for high glucose levels, you must also have a plan for the proper treatment. If you don’t have such a plan now, talk with your doctor or diabetes educator and get one soon.


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