Blood Sugar & Stress

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When stressed, the body prepares itself.

Insulin levels fall, glucagon and epinephrine levels rise, and more glucose is available in the blood stream.

What happens to my blood sugar levels when I’m stressed?

During stressful situations, epinephrine (adrenaline), glucagon, growth hormone and cortisol play a role in blood sugar levels. Stressful situations include infections, serious illness or significant emotion stress.

When stressed, the body prepares itself by ensuring that enough sugar or energy is readily available. Insulin levels fall, glucagon and epinephrine (adrenaline) levels rise and more glucose is released from the liver. At the same time, growth hormone and cortisol levels rise, which causes body tissues (muscle and fat) to be less sensitive to insulin. As a result, more glucose is available in the blood stream.

When you have type 2 diabetes, low blood sugars from too much medication or insulin are a common cause of stress. The hormonal response to a low blood sugar includes a rapid release of epinephrine and glucagon, followed by a slower release of cortisol and growth hormone. These hormonal responses to the low blood sugar may last for 6-8 hours -  during that time the blood sugar may be difficult to control. The phenomena of a low blood sugar followed by a high blood sugar is called  a “rebound” or “Somogyi” reaction.

When you have type 2  diabetes, stress may make your blood sugar go up and become more difficult to control – and you may need to take higher doses of your diabetes medications or  insulin.

During times of stress, individuals with diabetes, may have more difficulty controlling their blood sugars.

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