Thank you for your question, Karralene
When you have type 1 diabetes your doctor and educator encourage you to try and keep your BGLs within the target range.
When you are high – you might feel how you felt when you were first diagnosed – running to the toilet, drinking a lot and feeling really tired. You feel like this because you don’t have enough insulin to use the glucose in your blood for energy.
If your BGL is above 15mmol it’s really important to test for ketones. Ketones are chemicals in the blood which can occur when BGLs are high. Ketones mean things are out of balance and you need more insulin.
You can test for ketones either by urine testing with a ketodiastix or if you have an Optium meter, you can test your blood ketones. If you have ketones, you need to tell someone at home straight away to help you work out how much extra insulin you need. They may need to contact your diabetes team for advice.
Drinking plenty of water is also important when your BGLs are high. Otherwise you can become dehydrated.
When your BGLs are high, you would think that exercise would help bring BGLs down, but it doesn’t, it can actually make your levels go even higher. When you are high, with ketones, strenuous exercise is not recommended.
If your BGL is over 15mmol, with no ketones and you are not unwell, it’s OK to do some low or moderate exercise (eg. walking, tennis) but not strenuous exercise like a game of competitive football or basketball. It’s a good idea to check your BGL again in 1-2 hours to see if it’s come down.
If your BGL is high and you are vomiting, feeling drowsy, have tummy pain or your breathing becomes difficult, you should go to the emergency department of your local hospital immediately.
The main causes of very high BGLs are: not enough insulin, missed insulin dose, changes in physical activity, eating more food than usual, stress, puberty and hormonal changes, as well as infections and illness.
Talk to your diabetes team if you are concerned about high levels and exercise.