How Illness Affects Blood Sugar Measurements

I had read that when a Diabetic gets sick their blood sugar levels will be elevated and after a recent illness I can verify this is true.

Why does this happen?  From the American Diabetes Association:

“When you’re sick, you’re under stress. To deal with this stress, your body releases hormones that help it fight disease. But these hormones have side effects. They raise blood glucose levels and interfere with the blood glucose-lowering effects of insulin.”

I’ll admit I don’t understand the science behind this but empirical evidence over the past few weeks proves this happens.  About 3 weeks ago I started to get what I normally get at the beginning of every Fall – Sneezing, Runny nose, sinus and chest congestion and generally feeling like crap.  After a week of increasing my daily Claritin dosage and using the Neti Pot twice a day I recovered but it took me another week before all the symptoms subsided.  During this 2 week period my blood sugar readings were elevated and this is demonstrated in the following graph of my morning blood sugar measurements (The red arrow shows the spike when I became ill and the green bars represent a ‘normal’ fasting blood sugar measurement for non-diabetics).

blood sugar - sickNote that this data contains measurements starting in late August when I stopped taking my medicine so the high readings on the left happened before losing weight and going on my low carb diet.

During these two weeks fighting my infection, I didn’t alter my low carb diet or decrease my exercise so the only variable that changed was my illness and therefore it can be the only cause for my elevated blood sugar measurements.

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5 Responses to How Illness Affects Blood Sugar Measurements

  1. You will soon be a professional in diabetes control sir. I love how you are documenting this journey.

  2. tannngl says:

    Excellent empirical evidence for illness as a cause of hyperglycemia!
    We’re all going to learn so much from your posts! Thanks so much for doing this.

    Do you think you really exercised as well while you were so sick? (Not doubting your statement, just that when I’m sick, I spend more time on the couch. 😀 )

    • cosmoscon says:

      That is a fair question. My allergy type sickness doesn’t get me tired and running actually helps because it gets the mucus flowing and clears out my nose. But for sure I don’t exercise as hard.

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