Treating High Blood Sugar

Overview

Your doctor will give you goals for your blood sugar and recommend ways to treat high blood sugar. Here are some general guidelines for treating it.

  • Treat mild to moderate high blood sugar.

    Follow these steps if your blood sugar is over the target range set by your doctor. For example, that might be over 200 mg/dL for two or more readings a few hours apart.

    • If you missed your usual dose of diabetes medicine, take the missed dose.
    • If your doctor prescribed a dose of fast-acting insulin based on the blood sugar level (sliding scale), give the appropriate dose. If not, call your doctor for advice.
    • Test for ketones, if your doctor has advised you to do so. Call your doctor if the results show a moderate-to-large amount of ketones.
    • Wait 30 minutes after giving the extra insulin or the missed medicine. Then check your blood sugar again.
    • Drink extra liquids to replace the fluids lost through the urine. Water and sugar-free drinks are best.
  • Know when to take action.
    • If symptoms of high blood sugar become more noticeable or if your blood sugar level continues to rise, call your doctor.
    • If you start to feel drowsy or disoriented or if your blood sugar continues to rise (for example, above 350 mg/dL), call 911 or other emergency services immediately. It's best to have someone with you if your blood sugar is this high so that the person can call for you.
  • Recheck extremely high blood sugar.

    Follow these steps if your blood sugar is extremely high—for example, over 600 mg/dL. Some blood sugar meters read only levels up to about 400 mg/dL.

    • Wash and dry the finger carefully before checking again.
    • If the meter reads high, test the accuracy of the meter, and then recheck the blood sugar.
    • If the meter reads high again, call the doctor for advice or seek emergency care.

After a high blood sugar episode

After your blood sugar level has returned to a target range:

  • Continue medicine as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Check blood sugar levels as directed.
  • Report the episode to your doctor.
  • Drink extra liquids to replace the fluids lost through urine.
    • Water and sugar-free drinks are best.
    • Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol. Also avoid regular soda pop, fruit juice, and other liquids that contain a lot of sugar.

Credits

Current as of: July 28, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator