Stress within your comfort zone is a good thing – for instances, it is required when you need to do your best or keep you alert when danger looms! But the problem comes when it becomes overwhelming and you lose control on it. For such case, it can carry some health risks. Can also it cause high blood sugar levels in non diabetics?
Understanding stress in general
Stress is actually the natural mechanism of the body to respond any demand or even threat. For example, the body can release stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline when you feel threatened. You breath more quickly, muscles tighten, heart beats faster, and blood pressure increases. As a result you have increased stamina, strength, focus, and speed – making you ready for emergency action!
It is also important to help you rise to get your goal and meet challenges. You need it to keep focus during a presentation at work, drive your concentration for study, or sharpen your skill when playing a sport.
So stress is not always bad. Again it can give a number of benefits when working properly! But beyond this comfort zone, it is also linked to a number of many different conditions. When it doesn’t work as well as it should, it can be a serious threat to your mind and body.
Your body is naturally designed to have stress and react to it. Stress can also cause negative effect on your health when you face continuous challenges without relaxation /relief between challenges – or when you lose control on it. As a result, stress-related tension builds and your body becomes overworked!
When it continues without relief, you have a negative stress reaction (distress) that is to blame for physical symptoms such as raised blood pressure, upset stomach, difficulty sleeping, headaches, and chest pain. With this way, stress may also be a trigger for a number of health problems or worsen the symptoms of many diseases.
Unfortunately, some people use heavy drinking and smoking to relieve their stress. These choices are bad, or even can worsen the effect of stress on health. Alcohol and tobacco smoke tend to keep you in a stressed state, causing more problems.
Many long term sources of the problem are mental. Stress is actually designed for a real threat. But your mind can react to a harmless thing as if it was a real threat. Mental stress can pump out many hormones in the body to no avail.
In diabetics, bad stress management is bad blood sugar control
So again stress is actually a natural mechanism of your body to prepare itself to take action. This preparation is known as the ‘flight-to-flight’ response.
Type-2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes mellitus. It is often associated with lifestyle factors, though it also runs in families. Type-1 diabetes is another form of diabetes mellitus, it is thought as a consequence of the abnormality of the body immune system. In addition, there is also abnormal blood sugar condition called gestational diabetes, it only occurs during pregnancy as the name suggests!
So far, the answer of whether stress has contribution to cause diabetes is not fully known. There is still no evidence that stress is the cause of the condition. But it does have an effect on blood sugar levels.
For diabetics, stress may affect blood sugar in many different ways. But in general, it can alter blood sugar levels in the following ways:
- During stressful situations, diabetics may not take good care of themselves. They may choose the wrong ways to cope with such as exercising less (lack of physical activity), drinking more alcohol, and smoking. Or they may forget to plan good, healthy meals. Furthermore sometimes stress makes them forget to check their blood sugar levels.
- Hormones released during stress may also have a direct effect in altering blood sugar levels.
Stress is difficult to avoid, even many times it is inevitable. But the good news it is manageable. Good stress management is important for everyone, especially in people with diabetes. Losing control on stress can make anything more difficult, including for blood sugar control.
Can stress cause high blood sugar in non diabetics?
Most of the time, diabetes is to blame for the abnormal high blood sugar levels. But there are also a number of things that cause a spike in blood sugar, and stress is one them.
As mentioned earlier, the net effect of elevated stress hormones can stimulate the body to make lots of stored energy either from glucose or fat so thus the body is ready to take action. As a result, there will be more glucose released into the circulation (bloodstream).
Therefore a spike in blood sugar level can occur during stress, both in diabetics and non diabetics! But if you don’t have diabetes, this should be temporary. Your body usually will respond this spike quickly by releasing adequate insulin to help allow glucose get into the cells of the body for energy.
Some tests are available to diagnose diabetes. Elevated blood sugar level during stress cannot be used to determine whether or not you have diabetes since it can affect everyone.
For more information of diagnosing diabetes based on blood sugar level, see this post! Other causes of high blood sugar levels in non diabetics include: