What Are Some Causes of Fluctuating Blood Sugar Reading?

blood sugar reading

Common Causes of Blood Sugar Fluctuation

The primary and preferred source of blood glucose is digested food. As such, skipping a meal or eating too infrequently will result in an inadequate supply of glucose and will eventually cause blood sugar to drop. In contrast, the consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates can easily cause blood sugar to rise because of how quickly they’re digested into a large amount of glucose.

Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, soda and energy drinks, provide their energy boost by forcefully stimulating the adrenal glands. Because the adrenal glands are responsible for raising low levels of blood sugar, this direct stimulation will typically cause an increase in blood sugar regardless of how much glucose is currently in circulation. Furthermore, caffeinated beverages are typically high in sugar which significantly increases their potential to cause a dramatic increase in blood sugar.

Alcohol is a significant source of blood sugar fluctuation as well. Because it prevents the liver from producing glucose, it contributes to hypoglycemia by inhibiting the body’s ability to raise blood sugar. This problem is made worse by the large amounts of sugar that most alcoholic beverages contain. The sugar causes blood glucose to rise, but when the insulin response brings it too far down, the alcohol inhibits production of the glucose that is needed to lift blood sugar to an adequate level.

Some Other Factors to Consider

Extra Activity

Exercise is essential for diabetics who are working to manage their blood sugar. When you exercise, your body uses sugar for energy and the more you exercise the lower your blood sugar levels become. Keeping a regular exercise schedule is essential so you can work to balance your blood sugar levels throughout the day and eat according to the energy you put out. At the same time, unscheduled exercise or strenuous activity can cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate and drop lower than normal. Having extra food and staying hydrated will help with this fluctuation.


Pregnancy causes a variety of hormonal changes in your body that will affect the way you manage your blood sugar levels. Even if you have had your diabetes under control for years, pregnancy changes can alter how your current blood sugar management program has worked and you must adjust your meal plans, exercise routines and even your medication levels. These will also change as the pregnancy progresses and you may find constant fluctuations are a regular occurrence. If you are diabetic, you are considered a high-risk pregnancy and should be under close supervision by your physician.

Menstrual Cycle

Similar to pregnancy, your menstrual cycle causes hormonal changes in the body that can affect blood sugar levels and your ability to control them. The week before a woman starts to menstruate, hormonal changes increase her insulin resistance and even the medications taken to lower blood sugar will not work as well, according to Dr. Betsy Dokken. Once menstruation starts, the blood sugar levels drop again. Keeping a calendar of when your menstrual cycle occurs will be helpful in learning when to expect these fluctuations and plan accordingly.


When you are sick, your body produces more hormones that are designed to help it fight the illness. Unfortunately, these hormones also work to raise the blood sugar in your body, according to the Mayo Clinic. When you are sick, your activity level tends to decrease and, depending on the illness, your appetite may also be affected. Both of these play a big role in the regulation of your blood sugar and can create fluctuations.

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